Saturday, October 27, 2007

PR students make their mark in Ottawa

A perfect fall day welcomed Post-Grad Public Relations students to the capital city last Thursday.

Despite the early morning departure from Loyalist College in Belleville, everyone was keen to meet up with a number of the city's PR professionals.

Students with an interest in public affairs enjoyed a morning on Parliament Hill with Loyalist PR alumnus Lisa Kirbie in Senator Grant Mitchell's offices. They also met with Michael Ignatieff and members of the Hill's communications staff. Lunch at a popular parliamentary hang-out was followed up by a trip to the Privy Council (amidst tight security).

Meanwhile, students with more of an interest in the private sector met with Deneen Perrin, Public Relations Director at the Chateau Laurier, a visit which included a tour of one of the country's most historic hotels. Lunch followed at the nearby Elephant and Castle, after which students made their way to Sparks Street where they met with the president of Delta Media, Sheena Pennie.

A fantastic day of getting to know one another better (especially during the long detour home on the 401) and engaging with professionals in our field.

Great to have you along for the ride, everyone!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

College open house a sweet success

Thanks to all the Post-Grad PR students who helped host the huge Loyalist College Open House today .

As more than 1,500 high school students from across Ontario descended on the college, Loyalist PR students helped out with everything from greeting and guiding to handing out college-branded swag.

Your enthusiasm and self-directed work ethic helped make this day a great success.

Bouquets for everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Freeze Frame with Melanie Jordan (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 Melanie Jordan (Loyalist PR 06/07). Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Melanie earned a Social Science degree (concentration in sociology) from the University of Ottawa.

Freeze Frame: So, what’s up with you these days, Melanie?

Melanie Jordan: I am currently employed at Albert College, a non-profit private school in Belleville. My official title is Communications and Development Coordinator, and I work out of the Development Office at the school's main campus.

My responsibilities include communication and development tasks as well as some admissions requirements.

What’s a typical work day like for Melanie Jordan?

MJ: A typical day for me usually includes: alumni relations (answering e-mails and updated database), newsletter and magazine preparation, an admissions task or two, a few phone calls, maybe a meeting or two, updating the website and a press release (if I’m lucky).

FF: What are the three most important lessons you learned from Loyalist PR?

MJ: Coming to PR at Loyalist directly from university was a big
change. The assignments were hands-on and I had to change my writing style from university essay and research papers to short and sweet news release-style!

The most important lesson I learned in Loyalist PR was how
to write for a specific audience (ie. press releases, slogans and promotion tools).

The second lesson I learned in PR was to think up the craziest ideas, because they're the once that attract the most attention, and that's what we want.

The third lesson was that after thinking up the craziest of ideas, you need to speak up about them. Tell others what your thinking, share ideas and talk to others about them. That's the best way to make them great!

FF: What does it take find a job in PR these days?

MJ: To break into the current job market the number one thing you must have is an amazing portfolio! Definitely! It's hard to explain to
employers in a resume or an interview exactly what you have done and what you’re capable of. A portfolio does this for you.

The hardest part of getting a good job in this field right out of school is that you don't have any practical experience. PR at Loyalist will give this to you; you just have to show it off.

FF: Any words of advice for current or future Loyalist PR students?

MJ: The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. The more you learn, absorb and take in, the better off you'll be.

A little story of experience from my internship. When I began my
internship at Albert College they were in the middle of redesigning the website. This was one of my main objectives while I was here and I am very proud of it. We changed the payout of the site numerous times and it took about six months to get the whole thing, layout, design, text and photos, organized and put up on the website.

The main objective of the website was to make it appealing to all our diverse audiences, parents, current and prospective students, donors and past alumni.

I had a crazy idea and I mentioned it to my boss and the assistant head of school. I wanted to put a painting easel on the home page of the website as a display board for upcoming events. They didn't like this idea initially, but heard me out. I completed my internship and didn't hear the outcome until I returned to work at the end of August.

A focus group of parents, board members, students, alumni, sponsors, etc. was held to get their feedback on the site. They all loved my idea and my crazy easel idea now works well on the site.

FF: Any other interesting stories?

MJ: I was reading the CPRS [Canadian Public Relations Society] newsletter about websites and what should be included for the best media results. I brought this into my boss and a media page was added to the home page of the website.

Learning points here:

1. Speak up, share stories and experiences with others about what works and what doesn't.

2. Networking is important in this line of work so make sure you take advantage of every opportunity to network yourself and you
abilities. Take time to learn peoples names and remember them; it will pay off.

FF: Finally, have you downloaded any good YouTube clips lately?

MJ: I don't really have time to visit YouTube or Facebook but the last
time I was on Youtube I was looking for the MTV clip of Britney Spears' performance at this year's awards.

Friday, October 19, 2007

PR students raise $2,000+ for United Way

Post-Grad Public Relations students at Loyalist College came together yesterday to raise just over $2,000 for United Way in a high-energy six-hour event.

The “Way or No Way” take-off of the popular TV game show “Deal or No Deal” saw more than 1,000 briefcases sold for charity across the Loyalist campus.

Besides raising much-needed funds for the United Way, PR students also earned 20% of their grade for their Fundraising Fundamentals course.

Congratulations to everyone who took part in the event, and those who donated their hard-earned twoonies.

Without you there would be no Way!

To learn more about the United Way of Quinte, please visit

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Word on the wire

A big thanks to Lisa Davis of Marketwire (Toronto) who came down to spend the morning with the Post-Grad Public Relations students yesterday here at Loyalist College.

Besides providing a great overview of the purpose and possibilities of newswire services in Canada, Lisa also touched on the changing world of media relations, including the emergence of the social media news release.

One important lesson from Lisa’s visit: if it’s not newsworthy to begin with, your story’s dead in the water. No amount of fancy window dressing – including video, audio and/or embedded photos - can disguise the fact if there’s no solid news at the core of the release.

Thanks for the visit, Lisa! Your experiences and insights have allowed us to examine yet another side of this fascinating field of public relations.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Professional panel offers reality check

An outstanding panel of professional communicators from across the province joined Loyalist PR students yesterday for a frank discussion on industry standards and ethics, employment prospects and more.

Special thanks to Doug Mepham (MacDonald & Company), Larry Futers (Mitsubishi Canada), Paul Chaters (Marshall Fenn Communications), Brenda Pergantes (PR Communication), Aaron Bell (Ontario Hockey League), Beja Rodeck (Royal Bank of Canada), Catherine Campbell (Loyalist College) and Glenn Rainbird (Imperial Oil).

Your insights and experience have left us with much to consider.

Thank you for making room for us in your busy week!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Freeze Frame with Sundeep Shahani (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 Sundeep Shahani (Loyalist PR 06/07). Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Sundeep lived in India where he earned his Masters degree in Spanish and a degree in Radio Broadcasting.

Freeze Frame: What are you up to these days, Sundeep?

Sundeep Shahani: Since graduating from Loyalist, I’ve worked as a Pride and Recognition Officer with Service Canada in Ottawa. Recently, I was hired as a Trade Advocacy Officer with Western Hemisphere Trade Division, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. It’s interesting to know how agri-based products have a meaningful impact on bilateral trade between US & Canada.

My new responsibilities involve helping already motivated US buyers to further recognize the true potential of Canadian Agri based market.

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

SS: Relationship building is a key to success. Kerry’s interactive teaching method helped me recognize my true potential since I was fairly new to Canada at that point of time. I also learned that ethics play vital role.

FF: Do you have any advice for current or future LoyalistPR students?

SS: Manage your time as you manage your money. Additionally, I believe LoyalistPR students have the opportunity to be with one of the best professors in Canada, so make the best possible use of it...

FF: What is the one of your favourite things about living in Canada, now that you are living here full-time?

SS: Canada has treated me so well since the day I showed up; starting from my landlord in Belleville, to my friends and professors at Loyalist College. I am proud to be a part of the Loyalist family!

Friday, October 05, 2007

L-O-Y-A-LIST hearts Ritallin!

Not the drug, people. I'm talking about Ritallin, aka Greg Frankson of Ottawa, who blew away Loyalist’s Post-Grad PR students this past Wednesday with an unbelievable spoken word poetry performance.

From “Play” to “Untouchable,” Ritallin’s urban style of poetry struck a chord with audience members from all walks of life, and left us in awe of the energy and creativity all rolled up inside this one talented individual.

As if the outstanding performance in Alumni Hall wasn’t enough, Post-Grad PR students were also treated to an afternoon slam poetry writing workshop with Ritallin – the perfect remedy for those mid-semester writing block blues.

Thanks, Greg (and Quinte Arts Council), for an experience we’ll never forget.

Cut, copy and paste that…

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

PR maven shares trade secrets

This morning the Post-Grad PR students at Loyalist College enjoyed an excellent presentation by Diana Robinson of Diana Robinson & Associates.

Diana shared her secret (well, not-so-secret anymore!) formula for her success working alongside clients like P.Diddy and Beyonce, which amounts to the following: Listen. Think. Plan. Watch. See. Hear. Think. Adapt. Respond.

Diana’s insights and personal experiences were a great reality check for anyone considering the field of high-profile event management.

Her observation that “the business of living is life, not business” is perhaps one of the most important lessons of all.

Thanks for stopping by, Diana!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Freeze Frame with MJ Shields (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 MJ Shields (Loyalist PR 06/07).

Freeze Frame: So, what are you up to these days, MJ?

MJ Shields: These days I'm busy developing my business PRfect Communications, marketing a broad range of PR service to business and non-profits in small communities between Belleville and Peterborough. I'm also a board member with Volunteer & Information Quinte, thanks to my internship.

FF: What are the top three lessons you've learned in LoyalistPR?

MJS: There were so many, but here are my top three:

1. Edit and polish your work. Clients are unaware of the theory and
strategic planning behind good PR (and professors expect it). Your
abilities are judged by the finished product.

2. Avoid tunnel vision. Don't get so focused on one idea, method or end result that you miss new possibilities. And always support creativity with function and logistics.

3. Learn it all. PR is so diverse it could never be covered in a year, but the program provides perspective, knowledge, and skills that are essential as a foundation to develop your abilities.

FF: What would you say is the key to finding employment in the PR field?

MJS: Determination. Many employers or clients don't realize PR is what they need. Those who do recognize the power of PR have a grueling interview process. Either way the jobs are out there so just keep trying. I created my own job in response to an under-serviced niche market.

FF: Any words of advice for current or future PR students?

MJS: Understand that good relationships with people will connect you everywhere those people go. To connect to a particular field or organization, make more than one contact.

FF: Finally, tell us about some of your favourite blogs.

MJS: I get warm fuzzies reading Loyalist PR. Besides that, I like The New PR because it makes me laugh, Fleet Street gives me useful information, and Globe & Mail's Ingram 2.0 inspires me.

For more information, contact MJ Shields at PRfect Communication, (705) 772.0232.