Freeze Frame with James Lewis (LoyalistPR 06/07)

Freeze Frame is a regular feature of the LoyalistPR blog where we post our findings on what our illustrious alumni are up to and how much they’re making these days (just kidding!).

Today's Freeze Frame features James Lewis (LoyalistPR 06/07). Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, James completed a diploma in Advertising and a post-graduate certificate in Media, Marketing & Sales at Loyalist College.

Freeze Frame:
What are you up to these days (work wise)?

James Lewis: I am working on a contract as a College Advancement and External Relations Officer at Loyalist College. I was given the job after completing my internship. My main role is to plan and ensure that the celebrations for Loyalist's 40th Anniversary are carried out without a hitch. So far we've created a unique 40th anniversary visual identity and planned the events for the following year. I also get to put my skills learned from the PR program into play by helping write media advisories for local papers, among many other tasks.

FF: What are your plans for the fall?

JL: I am planning on heading to Australia this fall. I have been offered a seat in Griffith University's Masters of Marketing program and have the choice of which field I want to study in. I have the choice between Communications, Business, and Criminal Law. I think I may choose the Criminal Law program and study for the BAR exam as well. It's been a dream of mine since I was a young boy to become a lawyer, and a professional hockey player. I am also getting the chance to play on a professional Australian hockey team while I am there. So it looks like both dreams may come true.

FF: What are the three most important lessons you learned in LoyalistPR?

JL: The first is a no-brainer. LoyalistPR taught me to be up front, open and honest, and never hide the truth. The public, and your audience, will appreciate your honesty and forgive you, and your misdeeds far more if you are honest. History shows that brands/companies/organizations that are upfront recover more quickly than those that aren’t honest.

The second is that you must stick to your code of ethics, not those laid out for you. Look into the future and see if there is a possibility that you may be asked by your company to do something that you really aren’t comfortable with. If you feel that you may be asked to do something that your personal code of ethics won’t allow, make it known ahead of time. If you are against doing something, you will never succeed.

The final thing that I learned in LoyalistPR was that writing skills can ALWAYS be improved. I came into the course wanting to polish my English writing skill-set and realized that I have only begun to scratch the surface. Never lose the passion for writing; as a PR practitioner, you will be required to write. A lot. It doesn’t matter if it is an internal memo or a multi-national, cross-media, product launch. You will be judged on how well you communicate. Ensure that you edit, edit, edit, and then get someone else to edit. Your words represent you and your company so you must make them the best that you can.

FF: Any words of wisdom for up-and-coming PR students at Loyalist?

JL: Don’t be afraid to get your paws a little dirty. You have to be willing to do what no one else will to get ahead in this industry. You will have long hours, hard work, maybe a bad boss or two, and probably more than a few missed parties/weekends but it will be worth it.

Make yourself valuable, but not un-replaceable; because if you are un-replaceable you will never move up. Do the jobs you’re assigned to, and enjoy them. Show initiative to do the jobs you weren’t asked to do, and reap the rewards.

Don’t give up if you don’t get your pie-in-the-sky job straight out of college. You’ve got a lot of time to become a PR guru, so use it to your advantage. Everyone in the PR industry knows one another. The sky is the limit with PR, and the industry is only going to grow.

FF: Ok, so who's your favourite Australian actor or actress and what's the best flick they ever starred in?

JL: Everyone probably wants me to say Mel Gibson in Braveheart or Nicole Kidman in Batman. Although I like both actors, and most of the movies they play in, I have to go with another Aussie on this one. Eric Banna in Chopper. You’ve never heard of it have you? Well then, you’ve got something to rent for next week. I don’t suggest that you let the kiddies watch it though. It’s about Australia’s baddest Gangster and his rise to infamy. It’s based on a true story and the New York Time’s best-selling book, written by the illiterate Mark Brandon “Chopper” Reid. It’s a pretty killer movie, and Banna plays an amazing role. You’d actually believe that he was the real Chopper.

FF: Any final words?

JL: G’day, mate -- time to throw another shrimp on the barby...