Thursday, May 31, 2007

LoyalistPR Alumni now on Facebook


If you’re a member of our LoyalistPR alumni, be sure to check out the new LoyalistPR alumni group now available on Facebook.

This space has been created especially for graduates of the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, and features new job leads (two posted just yesterday!), volunteer opportunities as well as a great collection of student photos from years past.

Want to keep up-to-speed on your classmates’ latest adventures out in the “real world”? Stop by and see where everyone’s working and/or playing – and don’t forget to leave a post on The Wall to let the rest of us know what you’re up to.

There will also be pertinent discussion topics posted from time to time on the site, so check in often and let us hear your views!

(Please note: only LoyalistPR alumni are able to access this Facebook group.)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Freeze Frame with Jess Stevens (LoyalistPR 05/06)


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 is with Jess Stevens (LoyalistPR 05/06).

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Jess completed a diploma in Radio Broadcasting at Loyalist College.

Freeze Frame: What’s keeping you busy these days, Jess?

Jess Stevens: I’m working full time at News Canada Inc. in downtown Toronto. I am heading Customer Service for Media Relations Ratings Points (MRPs), the new industry standard for measuring media coverage in Canada.

This is a growing position and I am learning so much every day and loving work! Such an exciting industry to be a part of, and especially with MRPs since I have been with this tool since its launch one year ago in April 2006.

FF: What are the three most vital things you learned in LoyalistPR?

JS: Number one – staying organized. Kerry, you certainly gave the best tips and lessons when it came to learning how to prioritize and be organized, even if it was just an example on how to structure my essays. You wouldn’t believe how organized I am these days and how much I am in love with PowerPoint!

Second, crisis communications. I have been faced with some situations here where it was truly valuable to have a contingency plan. I can’t stress that enough.

Finally, the last lesson would be the reward of volunteering and taking part in as many selfless acts as possible. Whether it was selling wristbands for United Way at Loyalist or attending charity events on behalf of my company now, it just feels good and shows me how the little things can make the biggest difference!

FF: In your opinion, what does it take to find a job in PR?

JS:
Networking and the ability to make/keep contacts close to you and make them remember your name. I think you can’t be shy or scared in this industry, and you need to have the utmost confidence.

You have to make sure you never get a big head and are always thinking about the most important thing, which is how to stand out and be creative for your clients and customers.

Being creative and speaking your mind about ideas is always a good idea in this industry as everyone’s opinions are taken into account (at least around here). I love News Canada!

FF: Any words of wisdom for current and/or future Loyalist PR students?

JS: Yes, of course! I would advise everyone to strongly consider staying with the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) as a member after graduation [all Loyalist PR students are automatically members of the CPRS and IABC], or making sure they attend CPRS events while at school like I did. I know this doesn’t seem like much, but when it comes to being able to network and experience PR life before you hit the corporate world, CPRS is there to help you along the way to get that experience.

OK, so I totally sound like an advertisement for them, but I don’t work there and only know that attending CPRS events to better myself in PR has made a big impact on the skills I have today.

I would also make the suggestion that classmates keep in touch with not only each other, but their profs. I have learned so much from everyone!

One more thing would be to have confidence in your current skills, and always be open to obtaining more! Working in the PR industry is not always as sexy as you might think, but continuously finding ways to better your skills and learn more will be the most beneficial thing you can do!

FF: Finally, what’s playing on your iPod today?

JS:
Hmmmmm, well I’m not gonna lie. My iPod is turned off as I’m on a low battery right now and need the rest for when I hit the gym after work. So right now I’m listening to the radio on my work phone, which is Purple Rain by Prince. Nice! If I were to turn my iPod back on, though, it would be to hear Daft Punk – “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Such a good song!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A sweet farewell to internship...


As the month of May winds to a close, I would like to take a moment to thank the 25 employers who have provided such great internship opportunities for our Post-Grad PR students this year.

Here is just a sampling of employer comments (used by permission) following this year’s internship process:

“Jess has been a great addition to the Cake family. She is upbeat, eager to learn and very good at asking questions if tasks are unclear. We’re happy to have hired her as part of our team .” – Allison Daisley, Public Relations Manager, Cake Beauty (Toronto)

Amanda has been fantastic. Her attitude is phenomenal which is the most important thing! She is willing to learn, put in hours and is very responsible! So much so that I have hired her!” – Hala Bissada, President and CEO, Hala Events and Communications (Toronto)

“Shorey has been a great intern. Based on her internship at Live Tour Artists we have offered her a position. We would hate to lose her and perhaps we can be her entry into the world of entertainment.” – Joan Kirby, Live Tour Artists (Oakville)

“Great internship. Clear grasp of PR skills and application. Very keen and enthusiastic about all assigned duties. Has a bright future in public relations.” – Chris Morrison, VP, Client Services, MediaMiser Ltd. (Ottawa)

“Very mature student. Possesses great writing skills. Good at managing her time. Very passionate. Communicates well with team leader and other staff. Very effective. I would not hesitate to hire her.” – Sophie Castonguay, Communications Manager, Canadian Paralympic Committee (Ottawa)

Sharon has come to our busy department and has really thrived. She’s adapted quickly to our environment, has quickly understood our culture and has proven herself a tremendous asset to our team. If I had an opening, she would be hired immediately!” – Julie White Public Affairs Manager, Kingston General Hospital

“With just a couple of days of orientation, Brent was able to jump in and take on jobs. In his short stay, he contributed a great deal of work, and he was always eager and willing to take on more jobs and responsibility. We wish him all the best in his career and know he will do well.” -- Chandra Tremblay, Communications Officer, Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit (Port Hope)

“Sundeep was a pleasure to work with. He arrived with enthusiasm and inspired staff with his level of involvement in the projects to which he was assigned. He has left us with a very favourable impression, and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.” – James Bluhm, Director, Corporate Services, Human Resources Development Canada (Ottawa)

Finally, thanks to all of our other wonderful internship employers! We wish we were able to post all of your positive comments and feedback.

Interested in a Post-Graduate Public Relations intern from Loyalist College for the spring of 2008? Just e-mail kramsay@loyalistc.on.ca for your very own PDF internship brochure.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Freeze Frame with Shorey Andrews (LoyalistPR 06/07)


Today we’re launching a soon-to-be-regular blog feature called Freeze Frame where we post our findings about what our illustrious alumni are up to and how much they’re making these days (just kidding!).

Today’s inaugural Freeze Frame features Shorey Andrews (Loyalist PR 06/07).

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Shorey completed a diploma in Radio Broadcasting at Loyalist College.

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

Shorey Andrews: I recently began working for LiveTour Artists (an entertainment agency in Oakville) after completing my internship there. I am currently an assistant for two agents that book the college circuit, as well as an entry-level publicist dealing heavily with artist media kits (both improving and updating them).

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

SA: First, to be patient, both with myself and this career field. Nothing gets handed to you, and if it does you still need to work hard for it in order to it to feel real!

Number two, be open-minded. You don’t have to enjoy all areas of PR, but you must be open-minded about all the sectors, as there is a lot to learn from each area that can be carried over.

And number three, be confident… not sassy or conceited, but confident enough to believe in yourself. Again, nothing will be handed to you; it’s a work-hard, play-hard business and you need to be confident enough to persevere.

FF: In your opinion, what does it take to find a job in PR?

SA: Again, I think it takes a lot of patience and focus. Looking for a job in PR (or any career field) requires focus and attention. You can’t just skim through ads occasionally every day; you have to be on the hunt! It also takes an open mind. Don’t simply look at the job title and decide if you like the job. Try the job out and see if it fits. Proving your worth is half the battle to getting your dream job.

FF: Any words of wisdom for current and/or future Loyalist PR students?

SA:
When on internship, you must become a sponge! Listen to everything you hear, and allow it to soak in – even information you feel may not be relative. You’ll find out more about the company you’re interning for or simply lessons, good and bad, in the field just by keeping your ears open!

As for words of wisdom for those just starting or considering taking the program… have fun! This is one of the most rewarding and exciting careers out there.

FF: Finally, and most importantly, what’s your favourite pizza topping?

SA: Mmmmmmmmm, Greek pizza – gotta love feta!

Friday, May 25, 2007

A taste of del.icio.us


This just in: LoyalistPR now has its own collection of online favourites at our new del.icio.us web link.

So what is del.icio.us exactly? Simply put, it’s a social bookmarking web site that allows users to keep links to their favourite articles, blogs and virtually anything else on the Internet. The tool also allows you to share your favourite links with people you know or the greater del.icio.us community.

Now before I go any further here, let me emphasize that I’m not a great promoter of technology for technology’s sake. Case in point: I have yet to muster up the energy to transform my sweet self into a Second Life avatar, for instance.

But when an online tool as straightforward and user-friendly as this one comes along, I just have to give it a try.

The immediate value I see in del.icio.us for my post-graduate public relations students is easy access to focused PR research, agencies, associations, professional network opportunities and case studies.

del.icio.us also includes a search engine so students can comb the resources highlighted on the site for the topics and questions that interest them most.

Since the bookmarks are saved to the web, they can be accessed from any computer in the world, not just the originator’s browser.

What’s more, as Loyalist PR students discover additional links they feel will benefit the entire group, they can add them to our shared Loyalist PR del.icio.us site.

After an initial taste test of del.icio.us, I have to say: yum!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

You say press release, I say news release

Is it just me or is the term “press release” woefully outdated?

Add to that the terms “press conference”, “press pass” and “press box” while you’re at it.

The notion of the “press” evokes the notion of print media exclusively, at least as far as I’m concerned.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re already well aware that today’s media encompass much more than the traditional notion of the printing press.

Of course, there are the television, radio and other more conventional electronic media. But then there is the growing social media phenomenon which includes blogs, YouTube, Facebook, del.icio.us and flickr to name just a few.

So why can’t we seem to buck this trend in the PR industry of using an old-fashioned term like “press release”?

The more accurate terms, as I see it, are news (or media) release, news (or media) conference, media pass and media box (although whether or not people actually work in a "box" these days is a completely separate issue!).

Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s just a bad habit – but in my opinion we need to reflect our changing industry in the terminology we casually toss around in our workplaces and PR classrooms.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Netseeding defined


Definition: a non-branded Internet commercial and guerrilla marketing tactic made famous by the recent Bridezilla wig-out clip on YouTube.

“You plant your seed on the net, you nurture it, you watch it grow and then, hopefully, you watch it become a phenomenon that everyone’s talking about, which is exactly what happened with the wig-out video,” Burnout Productions producer Robbie McNamara told the CBC this past February.

Ethical marketing practice or not? That is the burning question.

What I know for sure is that media consumers today are becoming increasingly cynical (not to mention frustrated) about the deceptive practices of modern marketers.

Which makes me wonder: sure, the YouTube incident got everyone talking – but what was the actual benefit to the brand in question?

Did the hair product’s 15 minutes of fame translate into a stronger brand – or did it simply flag the company as a bunch of tricksters who will do anything to make a buck?

Public relations is first and foremost about building relationships with audiences, not duping them into buying a product or idea.

Building brand longevity takes time and trust; only an ethical approach to communication can achieve this in the long run.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First Nations PR Program Coming to FNTI


This fall the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) on Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory east of Belleville, Ontario will launch a one-year public relations program.

The new program will be overseen by instructors of the institute’s existing three-year journalism diploma program.

“Both programs are about telling our own stories,” says co-ordinator Dan David, whose background includes the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as a range of public relations experience.

“Both will have a strong new emphasis on delivering those stories on-line,” he adds. “As always, we’ll emphasize excellence and encourage students to take stories rooted in their own communities to the world at large.”

The new PR program will offer hands-on experience in aboriginal public relations, including internship opportunities with real-world employers.

Graduates of the FNTI program will receive a Public Relations certificate from Loyalist College of Applied Arts and Technology.

Anyone who is interested may contact Wendy Sero at 1-800-267-0637, ext. 160 or e-mail wendy@fnti.net.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Taking the High Road


This week's Globe and Mail featured a one-on-one interview with Mia Wedgbury, president and co-founder of High Road Communications in Toronto.

First off, I have to say that my own Post-Grad PR students thoroughly enjoyed their visit to High Road this past fall (see above photo), where one of my University of Ottawa buddies, Laura Ono (now VP), hosted our group with flourish (and plenty of free candy).

I must say, though, that I found it quite interesting this week for a major national daily to dedicate a full page interview to one of its supposed nemeses: the public relations professional.

The move only confirms, at least as far as I’m concerned, the level of growing mutual respect among PR practitioners and journalists.

Reputation is sacrosanct when comes to working in the PR industry these days, and the very fact that High Road has found its way into the pages of G&M’s business section speaks volumes.

So congratulations, High Road, and here’s to more PR firms we can all be proud of.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Social Media Webinar with Eli Singer


Yesterday I had the privilege of participating in a virtual conversation with Eli Singer of Cundari and about 200 other PR professionals from across Canada and around the world.

Hosted by CPRS, the Social Media (SM) Webinar offered an insightful discussion on the application of social media in two specific case studies (the Art Gallery of Ontario and the World Wildlife Fund-Canada), as well as the emergence of the social media news release (I refuse to call it a press release, sorry, Eli).

The discussion was a great catalyst for thought. One statement I particularly appreciated was Eli’s emphasis that social media are social first, and media second.

“It’s not about technology and web sites,” he points out. “It’s about people and how they connect with one another and share experiences with one another.”

As PR professionals, I think it’s paramount that we don’t lose sight of this very fact; media should exist to somehow link people together, not further disconnect them by creating virtual silos.

This past winter, our Post-Grad PR students here at Loyalist had the opportunity to host Pam Davis, Marketing Director for WWF Canada, who expanded on the use of social media in the organization’s Save Our Climate campaign. The students thoroughly enjoyed the experience (so much so that one became an intern there this spring). You can learn more about WWF’s social media approach at the WWF Canada blog.

As PR educators, we cannot ignore the enormous impact and potential of social media on our profession. That’s why social media will weave a thread throughout all of our curriculum this fall.

Brand storytelling continues to evolve with the emergence of each new medium; but when you come right down to it, it’s still storytelling.

And they all blogged happily every after.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

LoyalistPR on Canuck PR Toolbar

Big thanks to Martin Hofmann of High-Road Communications for linking our humble blog to the Canuck PR toolbar.

To download your own Canuck PR toolbar check out the toolbar link.

The Canuck PR toolbar features Canadian PR and marcom blogs, a news ticker, blog directory and RSS reader where you can see which PR blogs have been updated recently.

Simply smashing.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The XYZs of Retaining Great Volunteers

Volunteer retention is the focus of this week's cover story article by Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf on the Charity Village network.

When it comes to volunteer retention, I think one of the biggest challenges is recognizing the generational differences of the volunteers within an organization.

Having worked for several years as Director of Communications at Northumberland Hills Hospital in Cobourg, Ontario, I've been directly involved with hundreds of volunteers, and I can honestly say that in order to retain great volunteers, you need to understand what makes their generation tick.

For the Millenials (born 1981-2000), also referred to as Generation Y, it's often about the chance to gain real-world experience as they sort out possible career options. A few are just out to fulfil the dreaded required quota of high school volunteer hours, but many are genuinely interested in making a difference in the communities in which they live.

At the other end of the age spectrum, the Traditionalists (born 1925-1942) frequently volunteer because it offers them a chance to socialize with like-minded individuals, and to give back to those organizations that have made a difference in their lives.

As more and more Baby Boomers (born 1943-1960) retire, they find themselves relocating to smaller communities where volunteering provides a great way to meet new people and make use of their post-retirement skill sets.

The least visible generation represented in the volunteer workforce today (at least from what I've seen) is my own: the Gen Xers (born 1961-1981). Perhaps we're too busy with family or careers (or blogging for that matter!), but there are truly endless opportunities to volunteer our time if we'll just look around.

One of the most meaningful ways to volunteer as a Gen Xer is through mentoring. Whether through an established community program like Big Brothers and Big Sisters or more informally, mentoring can provide a life-altering experience for both the Millenial and the Gen Xer.

As a teacher, my ears and eyes are always open to see what I can learn from my own students (and trust me, that's a lot!). But crossing the line from teacher to mentor is a unique experience and one that brings great rewards.

When it comes down to it, I suppose it's that great feeling we get when we volunteer that keeps us coming back for more.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Time for Tim Hortons to Go Green

Tim Hortons is continuing to dig in its heels when it comes to the greening of its multi-billion dollar coffee empire. While other organizations like President's Choice and the LCBO have shown shades of environmentalism, Canada's beloved icon staunchly refuses to get with the program.

"We're not a waste management company," explains Nick Javor, Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs for Tim Hortons (Toronto Star, May 11, 2007) in the company's defence.

So much for corporate social responsibility. According to that weak brand of logic, families and individuals everywhere should forget about recycling, let backyard sprinklers run the Great Lakes dry, and toss our trash out the window on our way down the 401... after all, we're not waste management companies, are we?

Granted, Tim Hortons does compost coffee grounds and give people a discount who bring in their own thermal mug. But as a Canadian corporate leader, isn't there much more this wealthy company can do to green its business?

Case in point: the millions of non-recyclable Tim Hortons coffee cups that litter boulevards and parks all across this country. What's being done to address this issue and others like it?

Being a good corporate citizen isn't a choice; it's a responsibility. Time to step up, Tim Hortons. We'll all be watching.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Toronto Employees Lose Face(book)


The City of Toronto announced this week it will ban Facebook on employee computers (with the exception of city councillors). An interesting move considering Facebook is currently the fastest-growing form of social media around the globe.

Says city spokesman Brad Ross: "Not to say more and more people at the city were starting to spend a lot of time on Facebook, but to mitigate against the possibility we just simply denied access" (Toronto Star, May 10, 2007).

So let me get this straight. Even though no one was abusing this new form of media, the city has now banned it just in case? Seems a bit paranoid to me.

Not to mention the fact that Facebook offers great team-building and networking opportunities for employees of any organization. It's user-friendly, highly visual and provides limitless opportunities for employees to connect, whether they're divided by oceans or an office corridor.

And let's not forget the potential for PR applications. One of my PR grads recently got a job at Cake Beauty in Toronto where they've started up a Cake Beauty Lovers group on Facebook -- what a fantastic way to reach youth audience members (who are using Facebook like mad, by the way!).

My final viewpoint: the City of Toronto's move to ban Facebook on employee computers is short-sighted to say the least, and it won't be long before they realize it too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Welcome to Loyalist PR!

This is the first-ever entry for my new Loyalist PR blog... an exciting new venture! As full-time professor for the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario, I am forever trying to keep up with my students and their various high-tech forays (yes, even Facebook!). So here it goes, everyone!

My hope is that my students (past and present) and other PR enthusiasts will visit to share their thoughts and ideas about this ever-changing field.

To get us started, here's a thought from author Michael Levine (A Branded World): "Advertising is what you pay for; public relations is what you pray for."

What do you think?