Friday, December 12, 2008

Freeze Frame with Phil Jolicoeur (Loyalist PR 05/06)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Phil Jolicoeur (Loyalist PR 05/06) who now works as the Marketing and Special Events Co-ordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough.

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

A comedian in his own right, Phil did his Loyalist PR internship with the Funnyfest Calgary Comedy Festival.

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

Phil Jolicoeur: As the Marketing & Special Events Co-ordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough, I have a lot of duties. Every day is different.

Last month I began organizing a “Laugh out Loud” Comedy for a Cause fundraiser which will be held in Cobourg in January. This month I’ve started researching Canadian foundations for grant eligibility. I have also have been known to vacuum the floors and do some dishes, but I don’t get a professional title for those jobs.

FF: What do you enjoy most about your job?

PJ: I enjoy coming to work for something more than just a pay check. Everything I do is for a reason and for a worthy cause. By the end of each work day I feel like I’ve just given a quarter to one of those people outside the grocery store raising money for Lupus!

FF: How did Loyalist PR help prepare you for your current position?

PJ: There are so many things I learned in the Loyalist PR program that I put to use on a daily basis to list. The tools I never stop using are PR writing (media releases, support request letters, donor thank you letters, etc.), networking, networking, and networking! Never stop meeting new people; they could be helpful in your future!

FF: What's your best memory of Loyalist PR?

PJ: My best memory would have been doing the PR presentation on Mr. Floatie. The PR campaign was for POOP (People Opposed to Outfall Pollution) in Victoria, B.C. Let’s face it, what better way to get your word out than a guy called Mr. Floatie dressed as a piece of poop! The word poop is funny!

FF: OK, you’re a funny guy -- so who's your favourite comedian and why?

PJ: I’m a huge stand-up fan. Jerry Seinfeld would be my favourite mainstream comedian, because he takes the simple things in life and makes very clever jokes out of them. I always find myself in real-life situations relating back to an episode of Seinfeld or a joke he said on stage.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Language takes an unnatural turn

One of the things we frequently discuss in our Post-Graduate Public Relations program here at Loyalist is language, its uses and impact on human behaviour.

So needless to say, two front section articles in today's Toronto Star and Globe and Mail caught my eye, and prompted a heated in-class discussion.

The latest news is that the Oxford University Press is removing a number of nature words from its Oxford Junior Dictionary --words like beaver, dandelion, heron, magpie, otter, acorn, ivy and clover. (A number of Christian terms are also being deleted, including nun, monk and psalm.)

In their place, Oxford is inserting more technological terms such as Blackberry, MP3 player, voice mail and broadband into its Junior Dictionary.

Are you kidding me? As if our kids weren't already far enough removed from the natural environment, we are now actually removing words from their vocabulary that will allow them to discuss the ecosystem using specifics?

Anyone remember Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods (2005) where the author discusses the concept of Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD)? If Oxford's latest move is any indication, we are apparently headed toward a world where there are no woods at all (or beavers or heron for that matter), let alone any children with first-hand knowledge of them.

What worries me is not only the removal of these "nature words" but their replacement with more technological terms. While I'm clearly in favour of new technology (I'm blogging, aren't I?), there is something intrinsically perverse about saying one can replace the other.

If language is a tool that helps shape our understanding of the world around us, then let's hope publishers like Oxford come to their senses before it's too late. Otherwise we can blow good-bye kisses to the natural world as we know it, along with the life-altering richness that comes from experiencing the great outdoors... unplugged.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Freeze Frame with Warren Bonnell (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Warren Bonnell (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working as Regional Manager for CanAm Physician Recruiting in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Prior to applying to the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Warren worked for 15 years in the medical sales industry.

Freeze Frame:
Tell us a little bit about your current position.

Warren Bonnell: I work directly with the four health boards in the province matching their physician vacancies with the doctors that are in our data base. This involves having a knowledge of the licensing requirements/procedures for this province and guiding the physicians interested in specific positions through the entire process.

Each week I have regular conference calls/meetings with health boards as well as numerous physicians, of whom the majority are International Medical Grads (IMG's) looking to come to Canada.

FF: How did you come to apply for the Post-Grad PR program at Loyalist?

WB: After having extensive experience in medical sales, I felt a need to step back and return to school to further develop my overall communication skills and possibly pursue a different career path.

FF: What did Loyalist PR do for you?

WB: Loyalist PR helped improve my analytical skills. It helped me to take the complexities of a given situation and be able to present the analysis of it in an organized, well-thought out, well-written format.

As well, I was able to enhance my presentation skills. I present regularly to the health boards, and am an active member of Toastmasters. The Program gave me even more exposure to public speaking and presenting.

FF: What did you enjoy most about Loyalist PR?

WB: My favourite memories would be the fun we had in class playing Kerry's “creative" games. Of course they ALWAYS related to Public Relations in one way or another. From dancing like frogs, playing Balderdash, to building a kingdom/castle with toothpicks, it all had undercurrents of the communications business. Actually, I smile now as I think of those moments.

FF: Do you have any words of advice for this year’s Loyalist PR students?

WB: Start the projects close to the date they're assigned and be on time in submitting them. Be on time for class and if you’re not there let Kerry know why!

FF: Since you’re working in the medical field, do you have any favourite medical TV dramas?

WB: My favourite medical drama has to be Grey's Anatomy for all the obvious reasons: they have the prettiest girls of any medical drama!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Rock Your Career!" Week

As we near the end of the semester, Loyalist PR students are beginning to turn their focus to the internship hunt, and the career that awaits them beyond graduation.

To help prepare for the job hunt, students were challenged to "rock their career" this past week.

Among the outstanding keynote speakers who joined us here at Loyalist PR were:

Leslie Hetherington, President of the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), an organization to which all Loyalist PR students belong

Sue Dafoe, Account Manager of Charity Village, who provided great insights on job-finding in the not-for-profit sector

Lyndsay Kerik, the "world famous" Career & Employment Services Manager at Loyalist College

Laurie Pratt, Counsellor who provided Loyalist PR students with helpful tips on managing stress both in school and in the workplace

Stewart Hood of Stewart Hood Creative Inc. who brought us all up to speed on personal branding

Pat Bradley of Job Connect who provided valuable, real-world tips on leaving a lasting impression and landing your dream job

Finally, we wrapped up the week with a great Business Etiquette Luncheon today at Club 213 here at Loyalist College.

A great week with limitless possibilities ahead... so glad I've been along for the journey.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Freeze Frame with Gracie LaRose (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Gracie LaRose (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working as Promotions Director for CHUM Radio Brockville.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program, Gracie earned a diploma in Broadcast Journalism from Loyalist College.

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

Gracie LaRose: As Promotions Director for CHUM Radio Brockville, I handle all of the promotions for 103.7 BOB FM and 104.9 JRfm. I also handle some of the promotions for CHUM Radio Kingston, which includes 98.9 The Drive and 98.3 FLY FM.

My current duties include: maintaining the BOB FM and the JRfm websites, coordinating on-air giveaways and promotions with music and movie reps, working with local not-for-profits and charities to help promote their events, promoting and maintaining the stations' brand, and doing budget stuff. I also do a daily on-air shift on JRfm, Brockville's Soft Rock, 7-10 pm weekdays, and Saturday Mornings!

FF: How did Loyalist PR prepare you for your current job?

GL: Without the Loyalist PR program I would not have been nearly as outgoing as I am today, and this is not the type of business that introverts thrive in. It also taught me a lot about keeping up a company's brand, which is a HUGE part of what I have to consider every time I prepare for a promotion or event. If it doesn't fit with the brand image we are trying to maintain - no matter how cool the promotion/prizing may be - we just can't do it.

FF: What are three key skills you use every day on your job?

GL: First, creating effective messages. In radio, you have VERY limited time in which to get your message out, and to make sure the important info was heard. A lot of what I do gets summed up in 15-30 second spots, or commercials. But, the length of the spot won't matter if you can't grab and hold the listener's attention.

Next, delivering persuasive presentations. Most of the in-office aspect of my job is writing proposals and creating PowerPoint presentations. The fun side to this, is that I have to make things very self-explanatory, because often the people I'm working with aren't anywhere near the metropolitan-hub that is Brockville. So I almost never get to be there when my presentations and proposals are being viewed. Most of the music and movie reps I work with are in the GTA or in the United States.

And finally, special event planning. This is key to my job. While everyone loves the free stuff I score through my links with music and movie reps, I can't give it away if I can't make a successful event. In radio, we do remote broadcasts all the time - often to help promote local businesses and charities. I have to make sure there is an announcer to go to the event, that there is someone in studio to make sure the cut-ins from the event get on-air, and I have to make sure that the commercial scheduling during the event has no conflicts. (It wouldn't be very good to have a commercial for Jimbo's Sports World running during a remote broadcast from Athlete's World.) The radio stations have a couple of major charity events that get sponsored every year, and we organize these events from the ground up. All the charity has to do is show up and take the cheque at the end of the day.

FF: What’s the best part of your job?

GL: The best thing about my job is the free stuff! Ha! In truth, I really like that I can work with the local charities to help them achieve their goals. I also get to meet a lot of really great people who I work with to create promotions, and who come through the station for interviews… Sam Roberts and the gents from Great Big Sea, and last week we had Steve Smith a.k.a. Red Green come by.

There are some things in my job that don't change from week to week, I'll always have paper work to fill out, and I'll always have to worry about ratings... but what I do for promotions, and contesting is never the same.

FF: Final question: what’s playing on your ipod as we speak?

GL: Powerline - The National Parcs Check 'em out! Totally awesome band!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

All We Want for Christmas...

Today's interactive Mall Crawl capped off a week of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) for Loyalist PR students.

The highlight? Getting to meet St. Nick himself, and reminding ourselves of the child-like magic of the season...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Freeze Frame with Chris Thompson (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Chris Thompson (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working as the Assistant Sports Information Officer at Queen's University.

Prior to enrolling in the Loyalist PR program, Chris completed a diploma in New Media & Animation from Loyalist College.

Freeze Frame: What's the best thing about your job these days, Chris?

Chris Thompson: I get to use all of my skills and combine them with sports and bring athletics to the entire country. It's neat to see my work out there in the public.

FF: What's the singlemost important ingredient to landing the job of your dreams?

CT: A strong work ethic. You have to know what you want and put the time in to get there. I still believe that your dream job can change even if you think you're at your dream job right now. Times change and you have to continually challenge yourself.

FF: What are the top two lessons Loyalist PR taught you in preparation for your job today?

CT: First, time management. I thought I was good, but Loyalist PR prepared me for my job right now and the work load and hours I put in now. I don't know where I would be without it. And second, organization. This is key. We had a lot of projects due at different times, and it really is like the real world. Loyalist PR was amazing for getting your affairs in order.

FF: How can this year's students better prepare themselves for the job market?

CT: Have open ears and open minds. Do not settle for a safe job because I believe you will never be challenged and become a successful PR person. Go for it all and keep on your toes. Widen your search; you sometimes don't always know where a PR job lies.

FF: Finally, you're a sports guy, so who do you think is the greatest coach of all time and why?

CT: Being a part of so many teams, I have a huge pool to select from. But I would have to go with not only my hockey coach, but my life coach: my father. He coached me for almost my entire hockey career, and while he was teaching me hockey, he also taught me about life. He taught me respect and loyalty, as well as a drive to compete and be successful. His advice to me: never settle for safe and always push towards the unknown; be smart and use your head.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Marketwire's Lisa Davis discusses PR 2.0

Senior Marketing Manager Lisa Davis of Marketwire dropped by Loyalist PR today to talk about the implications of PR 2.0 in the modern workplace.

Students were able to learn more about the evolution of the news release and how online tools like MediaHub allow PR practitioners to target their media relations campaigns to reach a more specific audience of journalists.

Thanks for the visit, Lisa! It's always great to have you on campus.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Author John Cooper visits Loyalist PR to discuss crisis communications in Canada

Loyalist PR students enjoyed a visit this afternoon from John Cooper, author of Crisis Communications in Canada (2006).

John's presentation focused in on the 2004 Royal Bank of Canada ATM crisis. He walked students through each step of the case, from identifying the problem to key messaging and post-crisis evaluation.

"The crisis isn't necessarily over when you think it's over," he pointed out. "You need to rely on your publics and the media to let you know when the crisis has passed."

Loyalist PR students discussed the effectiveness of the RBC approach to crisis communications, along with other recent cases ranging from Maple Leaf Foods Canada to the 2007 taser case in western Canada.

John's visit followed a morning spent focused on a mock disaster where students had the opportunity to work through a crisis using their own strategic skills and communication abilities. Great work, everyone!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Retired Captain Ian Stock kicks off Loyalist PR's Crisis Communications Week

Loyalist PR's "Crisis Communications Week" got off the ground with a visit from Retired Captain Ian Stock of the Canadian Armed Forces (now with RBC Dominion Securities).

As a friend of the Post-Grad Public Relations Program , Ian shared his experiences as a spokesperson and media coach for the Canadian military.

His key messages to students included the importance of creating (and test-driving) effective organizational crisis plans, as well as how to build professional credibility with the media.

Thanks for spending the morning with us, Ian!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Loyalist PR students take part in Hockey Canada media relations efforts

This week, several Loyalist PR students got hands-on media writing experience while working in partnership with Hockey Canada at the National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Napanee, Ontario.

“I think the most important lesson I learned from this event was that we are learning skills in class that we will be able to use in the real world,” says Loyalist PR student Rachel Fehr, who attended the Hockey Canada event.

“We can go into the workforce with confidence knowing we can do our jobs well once we leave the program," Rachel adds. "This was a great experience for me personally, because it is something I never would have gotten to do in university.”

Loyalist PR student articles can now be found on the Hockey Canada web site.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Aaron Bell of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) speaks with Post-Grad PR students

Today Aaron Bell, Director of Information, Media and Publications for the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)/Canadian Hockey League (CHL) spoke with Loyalist PR students about his career and how to break into today's job market.

Aaron shared with us a number of his own valuable life experiences, as well as providing tips on cultivating relationships with the media and building a strong organizational brand.

"As the OHL/CHL, our main purpose with the media is to get the message out there, whether it's about educational opportunities or the quality of our hockey program," he observed.

Aaron left us all with this great quote by Jack Canfield: "If you're willing to do more than you're paid to do, eventually you'll be paid to do more than you do."

Food for thought. Thanks for a great afternoon, Aaron!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Fundraising expert discusses philanthropy with Loyalist PR students

Certified Fund Raising Executive Rhonda Cunningham of the Northumberland Hills Hospital led an engaging and thought-provoking discussion with Loyalist PR students this afternoon.

Rhonda's presentation in our Fundraising Fundamentals class covered everything from the five I's of fundraising and donor pyramids to how to approach major donors for significant campaign gifts.

Thank you for your time, Rhonda. Your passionate views on philanthropy have given us all something to think about.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Loyalist PR raises $1,200+ for United Way

Post-Grad PR students kicked off the Loyalist College fall campaign for the United Way yesterday by raising more than $1,200 in less than five hours.

With great enthusiasm and a flair for Halloween fashion, students engaged staff, faculty and other students in a campus-wide “Trick or Treat for United Way” event.

“The students looked great in their costumes and got me to buy a winning ticket that caused me to have a happy dance right on the spot!” says Doug Lafreniere, Professor & Academic Co-ordinator of the Fitness & Health Promotion Program at Loyalist College. “It was a fun and profitable day for the United Way. Kudos!”

Special thanks to the many corporate supporters who made this event possible, including: Walmart, Applebees, Starbucks, the Empire Theatre, the Belleville Bulls, Sunoco, Boston Pizza, The Spa at Loyalist, Office Depot, Club 213, Play It Again Sports, Chartwells and the Shark Tank Pub.

Great job, everyone!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

2008 Media Mash-Up Hosts Sell-Out Crowd

Loyalist PR students hosted a sell-out crowd at the 2008 Media Mash-Up presented by Apple last night in the Shark Tank Pub at Loyalist College.

Students, faculty and support staff of the School of Media gathered for an amazing night of live music, food and prizes -- all while mixing and mingling with people from a cross-section of media disciplines.

Special guest Scott Moore, Executive Director of CBC Television Sports shared his experiences from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, as well as the recent footage of the announcement of the new "Hockey Night in Canada" theme song.

Among the evening's live musical acts was Loyalist PR's own Kyle MacKenzie who loosened up the crowd with his talented acoustic performances. Way to go, Kyle!

More behind-the-scenes tasks were carried out by a host of other Loyalist PR students who did everything from managing ticket sales and event set-up to prize table organization and band co-ordination.

Through it all, we learned what it takes to run a great event, and how to work together as a team to achieve optimum results.

Special thanks to lead sponsor Apple, as well as Sony, Japan Camera, Future Shop and Huff Estates who made this event possible.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy turkey weekend, everyone!

Hats off to an amazing thanksgiving feast held at Jeff and Dana's Tweed estate yesterday. The food and company was "right arm" and I hope you all enjoy a wonderful long weekend. -- Kerry

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Loyalist PR hearts George Stroumboulopoulos (we really do!)

You see, George, we promised we'd blog about you and we kept our word. The CBC needs more rock stars like you. Call us.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Loyalist PR takes on Toronto

This year's Loyalist PR fall trip to Toronto was filled with loads of fun, learning and adventure.

After pulling out of Bellevegas early in the AM on our rockstar bus, we arrived right on time for our first stop at Hill & Knowlton. Thanks to Paule and the H&K associates who made us feel welcome, and challenged us to follow our passion.

Next up was a family-style lunch at Jack Astor's on Front Street, followed by a brisk walk to the CBC studios. After spending time with Public Relations Director Elizabeth Lea of the CBC, we all left feeling a bit prouder to be Canadian, and with a new appreciation for our broadcasting heritage.

Our final stop was Bullfrog Power where we met up with James Bosma, Marketing Communications Director of this cool eco-brand. James handled the student storm of questions with the utmost of ease and got us all talking about the new possibilities available to us all on the sustainable energy front.

This blog entry would be incomplete without a mention of the bus trip home where we uncovered many hidden talents, including a mobile accordian concert at 110 km/hour on the westbound 401 highway.

It just doesn't get any better than that, folks.

Diana Robinson comes to the party...

When is a party not just a party?

Ask Diana Robinson of Diana Robinson & Associates who has organized media events for the likes of P. Diddy and Beyonce, not to mention a litany of brand launches ranging from laundry soap to organic gluesticks.

Diana's visit to Loyalist PR today offered more than just a behind-the-scenes view of the PR world; she also provided her list of "20 Life Tips" and secrets to personal success.

Thanks for stopping by, Diana!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Loyalist PR Alumni Return for Fall Panel

Yesterday's Loyalist PR alumni featured a cross-section of grads who are applying their skills in a variety of ways for a broad range of organizations.

Among this year's participants were: Katie Dudley, PR & Special Events Assistant with the Toronto Zoo, Lindsay Conboy, Communications Assistant for the Canadian Paediatric Society (Ottawa), Lisa Kirbie, Chief of Staff for Senator Grant Mitchell(Parliament Hill, Ottawa), Alex Sancton, Communications Officer at World Vision (Mississauga), Heather Forsyth, a Communications Assistant working in The Senate (Parliament Hill, Ottawa), Briar Boyce, Donor Relations Assistant, Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation (Picton) and Phil Jolicoeur, Marketing and Communications Co-ordinator for the Down Syndrome Association of Peterborough and Northumberland.

Among the topics of discussion at today's panel were the use of social media in today's marketplace, along with the challenges of monitoring such tools as blogs, YouTube and Facebook. They also offered tips on everything from the job hunt to finding the ideal internship.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! We wish you the best of success in your careers, wherever they may lead you.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tickets now on sale for Media Mash-Up!

The Post-Grad Public Relations students are now selling tickets for the 2008 Media Mash-Up (presented by Apple) to be held Wednesday, October 15th from 6 – 9 p.m. in the Shark Tank Pub at Loyalist College.

Key sponsors for the evening include Apple (lead sponsor), Sony, Future Shop, Japan Camera and Huff Estates Wines.

This year’s Media Mash-Up event will feature a great night of professional fun complete live music, plenty of door prizes, cash bar and light buffet.

The evening will also spotlight special guest Scott Moore, Executive Director of CBC Television Sports. Scott will be talking about the CBC’s recent live coverage of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Tickets are only $5. Get yours today!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Freeze Frame with Sylvia Draaistra (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Sylvia Draaistra (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working as Marketing Director for Teach Your Children Well in Belleville, Ontario.

Freeze Frame: Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to these days.

Sylvia Draaistra: My job consists of several tasks including writing a newsletter for QLC Educational Services to help inform the parents of the students and to promote the materials we use to the greater community. I also spend time teaching students who struggle in school how to read and write (one of my favourite things).

FF: Tell us about your recent trip to Los Angeles.

SD: As a volunteer for the Belleville Rotary Club, I have been involved in organizing a reading program for kids this summer at the Belleville Public Library. Literacy is one of Rotary International’s main focuses which is why we were invited to hold a booth promoting literacy at the Rotary International conference in Los Angeles.

We spoke with people from all over the world offering solutions for their education problems. It was amazing to see how people everywhere are challenged with the same issues, and it felt good to be able to offer a solution.

FF: How would you say the Loyalist PR program helped prepare you for your current job?

SD: One of the guest speakers at the Rotary International convention in LA was Premier Dalton McGuinty. He spoke on the topic of literacy and happened to be on my flight home -- the one that flew in circles for three hours and landed in Las Vegas because of an air compression problem.

Our trip back to Canada was very late but very interesting for me since I was seated next to Ben Chin, Premier McGunity's Media Relations Specialist. We discussed education in Canada at length and he introduced me to the Honourable McGuinty after we landed safely in Toronto. As Professor Ramsay said (a million times or so) you just never know who you will meet so be at your best and be careful what you say and to whom you say it. Good advice!

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

SD: Be organized, be flexible and be honest. I learned that these three things are crucial in public relations.

The course involved many hands-on activities and real-life situations where I learned how to juggle many things at once, while having a crisis thrown at me, and remain positive even when others are not.

I appreciate the way that we were encouraged to be truthful and honest at all times since this coincides with my own personal values. It makes relating to the public a pleasure.

FF: Finally, we know you love literacy – so what's your all-time favourite children's book?

SD: Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman is my favourite children's book. It has beautiful illustrations and a heart warming story with a positive message for all ages.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Loyalist PR takes part in AERO webinar

Post-Grad Public Relations students at Loyalist College enjoyed a CPRS webinar hosted this afternoon by Daniel Tisch, President of Argyle Communications and Alison George, the firm's VP.

The webinar (the first in a CPRS series) deconstructed the recent "Guys Just Don't Get It" PR campaign for Nestle AERO.

Learning points ranged from brand positioning to the use of Ombnibus surveys and effective media relations.

The campaign also highlighted the usefulness of Media Ratings Points (MRPs) in the PR evaluation process.

Thanks to Dan, Alison and the CPRS for a great presentation!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Freeze Frame with Ashley MacCormack (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Ashley MacCormack (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working in Events and Special Projects with the Ottawa Humane Society.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Ashley earned a B.A. (Honours) in Political Studies from Queen’s University.

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

Ashley MacCormack: I have several major projects that I am responsible for. Half of my time is spent making our monthly PAW (pre-authorized withdrawal) donors happy. I take care of everything and anything from sending welcome packages, to dealing with expired credit card information, to making thank you calls to each of our 3,000 donors.

The second half of my jobs involves all of our events. I am currently attending United Way events across the city encouraging employees to direct their contributions to the OHS, as well as, promoting all of the services that we offer to the community.

I am also in charge of third party events, which could mean anything from accepting money from Timmy’s birthday, to being the OHS contact for a charity country jamboree, to helping with the details of our largest event of the year, the FurBall.

Finally, I actually get the opportunity to take ownership of two events - Santa Pet Pics and Bunny Snaps. Held in conjunction with Christmas and Easter, we organize photo ops with Santa or the Easter Bunny and your little furry friend. I have already started planning for SPP 08 and am super excited to have the opportunity to plan such a creative event!

FF: What’s the best thing about your job?

AM: Feeling like I am making a difference! I was lucky enough to intern with Disney Canada in Toronto last May, and loved every minute of it, but came out realizing that the corporate environment might not be for me.

After applying with multiple non-profit agencies in Ottawa, the OHS came along and just seemed like the perfect fit. With thousands of non-profit agencies in Canada promoting multiple causes, I think animals sometimes get forgotten. They have no voice and are unable to justify their cause, so it is great to be able to be that voice for them and really help people understand why donating to such a worthwhile cause is important.

Being around cute and cuddly animals everyday, is a pretty cool perk too!

FF: How did Loyalist PR help prepare you for your current position?

AM: The one thing that I loved about the Loyalist PR course is the multiple areas that you get to cover. I really feel like I am getting the opportunity to use them all (even digital media).

This course really gives you a hands-on learning experience. I felt like I had a great background coming from university, but really had no marketable skills.

I was able to come into my current job with a very diverse background and the confidence to attempt any task that was given to me. Kerry really gives you a great foundation, making anything else a piece of cake to tackle!

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

AM: Learn, learn, learn, and when you think you’ve got it all, learn more! You never know the direction your life might take you, and after this year you really will want to have as many marketable skills as possible. I really thought I would be moving to Toronto at the end of the year to attempt getting into Sports Entertainment. Oh how our dreams change! So, take in as much as you possibly can.

Second, don’t box yourself in. I think one of the coolest things that I learned from Kerry last year is that an adult will think of maybe 3-5 ways to tackle a problem, pick one and go for it; a child will think of 60 or more. Be creative. Think of wacky solutions and different ways to approach problems. The one thing I am hearing a lot at work right now is, “this is a new position, make it Ashley”. I am getting the opportunity to flex my creative muscles and find ways to reach as many people as I can with our messages.

Lastly, get to know your fellow students! You really will be like a family in no time. Enjoy this experience, because you will long for it when it’s over.

FF: Finally, you work for the Humane Society now – so, do you have any pets of your own?

AM: Mac “Mackie” MacCormack was born on a cold day in March 2007. On May 9, 2007 he officially became a part of my family, and has brightened up my life every day since then. He enjoys long walks in the park, organic peanut butter treats, and visiting his “glamma” (my mother).

I’m not sure who was more excited about me working for the OHS. The 20th annual Wiggle Waggle Walk-a-thon was on September 7th and Mackie is still investigating all of his free “swag”. Once he is able to sit still for more than three seconds, he will actually be able to come with me to work.

For someone like me, who is an avid animal lover, this really is the perfect place to start my PR career!

Friday, September 12, 2008

What We Learned from Ultimate Frisbee

Yesterday's Loyalist PR students took it outside for some ultimate frisbee (see right) -- and together we learned 10 things that will help us out in the year to come:

1. Sometimes you've gotta dive for what you want.

2. Get in the game.

3. Teamwork matters.

4. Look before you lunge.

5. Everyone has a part to play.

6. Winning is sweet.

7. Losing sucks; but at least we can learn from it.

8. Pay attention to your teammates' strengths -- and play them up.

9. Play nice.

10. Have fun!

Thanks, guys (and to the weather for such a spectacular day) -- see you Monday.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Something's fishy...

What a great first week we've had together! Here's to a fishy year ahead!
-- Kerry, Rob and JoAnne

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Let's get it started...

It's that time again - the start of a new fall semester is just around the corner!

We here in the Loyalist PR program are looking forward to meeting this year's students, and making this the best year ever.

We'll see everyone at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, September 2nd in the Loyalist gymnasium.

Enjoy the long weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer issue of college magazine features work of Loyalist PR students

The latest edition of Lasting Connections magazine is hot off the presses, and features a variety of articles written by Loyalist PR students.

If you're a Loyalist College alumnus, watch for the summer issue in your mailbox soon!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Freeze Frame with Sarah Koester (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Sarah Koester (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working as a Public Relations Assistant with the St. Boniface General Hospital & Research Foundation in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Sarah earned a B.A. in Politics and Criminal Justice Studies from the University of Manitoba.

Freeze Frame: What are your duties since you began working at the St. Boniface General Hospital & Research Foundation?

Sarah Koester: I have been primarily involved in event planning. This has involved setting up vendors, for special events, and soliciting donations for raffle prizes, takeaway gifts, and auctions. Other event planning aspects have included coordinating donation pickup schedules, and creating event information packages that are sent to potential event sponsors.

From the communications side I recently wrote a communications plan for an upcoming Foundation fundraising event. I’ve written a few stories for the spring edition of the Foundation newsletter, and I also recently had the opportunity to write the speaking notes for a Foundation news conference.

FF: How did your internship help prepare you for your current position?

SK: My internship actually turned into my current position, so it was a seamless transition. The staff at the Foundation has been nothing but encouraging. They aren’t afraid to let me try new things, which is essential when you’re looking to gain practical experience.

Additionally, my internship has provided me with great networking opportunities, and a chance to work in a fully bilingual environment which has given me the opportunity to exercise my French language skills.

FF: What were the top three lessons you learned from Loyalist PR?

SK: First, always tell the true, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Second, if something goes wrong at an event and no one notices, then nothing went wrong. And finally, write, write write, then repeat.

FF: What's the best-kept secret about living in Winnipeg?

SK: Winnipeg has brutal winters, but beautiful summers. When the snow melts the city comes to life. There are tons of great festivals, restaurants, and beautiful parks. We’re often overlooked, but it’s not a big deal, it’s what maintains our low cost of living!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Convocation Day 2008

"This time, like all times, is a very good one -- if we but know what to do with it." - Emerson

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The seas of change

The theme of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) national conference in Halifax this past week was “Charting the Seas of Change”. Set against the backdrop of one of Canada’s most beautiful harbours, the three-day conference explored many facets of change as it relates to the field of public relations.

Here are just a few of my favourite conference highlights:

Max Valiquette (aka Conference Rock Star), President of Youthography in Toronto delivered an outstanding presentation on youth culture and the ways today’s brands can connect with the digital natives.

Keynote speaker Ret. General Rick Hillier proved that the Canadian Armed Forces brand has undergone a radical transformation in recent years, and that true leadership is based on a strong set of core ethics, personal values and humility of heart.

Joseph Thornley, Chairman and CEO of Thornely Fallis Communications (Ottawa) and Carman Pirie, Principal at Colour (Halifax) teamed up to bring us up-to-speed on the latest social media developments and what they mean for the field of public relations.

Leonard Brody, Co-founder and CEO of NowPublic challenged our beliefs about the role of citizen-generated news in our digital age.

Amanda Brewer, Director of Change and Internal Communications, Hill & Knowlton and Brendan Hodgson, Director, Hill & Knowlton outlined a great case study detailing the use of social media during the last CBC lock-out, and applied the philosophies of SM to employee communications

Dana Phillip Doiron, Managing Director of the Partners Strategy Group articulated the keys for success during crisis communications planning, using personal examples from the Swiss Air disaster.

And of course, who could forget the amazing lobster suppers at The Shore Club, the cobblestone streets of the city where democracy was born in Canada, and the many new colleagues (and old acquaintances) who made this conference such a great success.

Congratulations to all the conference organizers on a job well done!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Freeze Frame with Katie Dudley (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Katie Dudley (Loyalist PR 07/08) who is now working with the Marketing & Public Relations Department of the Toronto Zoo.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Katie earned a B.A. in Sociology from Western University.

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

Katie Dudley: For the most part my job consists of co-ordinating group events at the Zoo. From speaking with clients one-on-one during the planning process to sending out work orders to various departments at the Zoo to visiting the site throughout the day during the event, I make sure that the group events (mostly corporate picnics and fundraisers ranging from 70 to 1,500 people) run smoothly.

I also assist the rest of my PR team with media filming, VIP tours, exhibit launch events (i.e. our 2008 Stingray Bay), and promotional endeavours.

When I was first hired at the Zoo, people questioned what kind of “PR stuff” would a Zoo do? The answer is LOTS! We have numerous partnerships, including many various popular media outlets. We also hold over 70 corporate events through out the summer and many other cross-promotional and fundraising events. The Zoo is a not-for-profit organization, and, as all PR junkies know, non-profits thrive on PR tools and techniques.

FF: What's the best thing about working at the Toronto Zoo?

I work with an AWESOME team. My co-workers are all from various walks of life (similar to my classmates from the Loyalist PR program). We get along great, have an awesome communication system at play, and continually learn from and support each other.

Second best part is that I get to visit Africa, India, and Australia (to name just a few countries!) on a daily basis. I also get to be outside a lot which will be so much fun once the weather starts to warm up, if it ever does! I plan on hitting up the Loyalist PR Reunion in September with a fabulous tan :)

FF: How did Loyalist PR prepare you for your new position?

KD: The program prepared me on numerous levels. Coming out of university with a degree in sociology I honestly had no idea what to do next. The PR program looked like it would be a lot of fun and great training - which it was and much more!

Through the various courses and hands-on learning opportunities I was able to hone my PR skills and become more confident with myself as an employee and in general.

The PR industry is a great place for someone like me. I love meeting new people, constantly learning new skills and developing my current skills, as well as getting to do fun and interesting work on a daily basis.

The Loyalist PR program prepared me for a successful career and showed me that there are opportunities for me in the industry.

FF: Any words of advice for students entering the Loyalist PR program this fall?

KD: ENJOY IT! The eight months (including internship) flew by. I miss it, but am also really happy to be in this new phase of my life. I would advise the students to get to know their classmates as it is important to develop your social skills throughout the year. Once you enter the workforce these skills will set you apart from the rest of your colleagues.

Also, pay attention and apply yourself to the best of your ability. The program professor and co-ordinator, Kerry Ramsay, offers so much in terms of needed skills and mentorship so take total advantage (in a good way).

FF: What's your favourite zoo exhibit?

KD: Hard to say. Our new Great Barrier Reef Exhibit is gorgeous! Over 1,000 tropical fish in the most colourful aquarium I have ever seen. The moon jellyfish are awesome to watch as well, so calming. I also try to visit the Siberian Tigers and Orangutans as often as I can. Our baby orang is hilarious to watch - such a little monkey!

FF: Good luck, Katie! We know you’ll do grrrrreat (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Loyalist PR Professor Receives Award for Innovation & Excellence in Teaching

Professor Kerry Ramsay, Coordinator of the Post-Graduate Public Relations program at Loyalist College, has been awarded the College’s first Innovation and Excellence in Learning-Centred Teaching Award.

The annual award acknowledges an individual who exemplifies excellence and engages on an ongoing basis in innovation that improves the quality of teaching and learning at Loyalist.

“I am very pleased to sponsor this award, the recipient of which is selected by the College Faculty Professional Development Committee, chaired by Associate Vice-President Academic Geoffrey Cudmore,” said Loyalist President Maureen Piercy.

“The students in the Public Relations program are fully engaged, networking with each other and the community from the moment they arrive on campus. My congratulations go to Kerry on this well-deserved honour.”

As part of the recognition, Professor Ramsay participated in the Teaching Professor Conference, held in Florida and hosted by Dr. Maryellen Weimer. Dr. Weimer is Associate Professor of Teaching and Learning at Berks-Lehigh Valley College of the Pennsylvania State University and editor-in-chief of the Teaching Professor newspaper. She has authored and co-authored numerous books including Teaching on Solid Ground and Learner Centered Teaching.

“Having the opportunity to attend The Teaching Professor Conference was definitely a career booster," says Kerry. "I especially enjoyed the chance to sit in on sessions with experienced and knowledgeable educators from right across North America. With the conference now behind me, I'm more determined than ever to create a learning environment for students here at Loyalist that is collaborative, interconnected and community-minded.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Freeze Frame with Alex Sancton (Loyalist PR 07/08)

Today’s Freeze Frame features Alex Sancton (Loyalist PR 07/08) who recently completed his internship at World Vision Canada’s head office in Toronto. Alex has now been hired on at World Vision Canada as an Emergency Response Communications Officer.

Prior to enrolling in the Post-Grad Public Relations Program at Loyalist College, Alex earned a degree in International Development from Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Freeze Frame: Given the recent disasters in Myanmar, you must be busy these days. What are your current duties as an Emergency Response Communications Officer with World Vision Canada?

Alex Sancton: I am currently working with our support offices around the world in the U.K., the U.S. and Australia, along with our national offices in each country that we work. All these offices have communications officers just like me with whom we communicate and share information on a regular basis.

In times of emergencies, like the one we are facing right now in Myanmar, these communication officers are crucial to us. They co-ordinate media interviews with World Vision staff who are on the ground in countries like Myanmar, Uganda, Zimbabwe or Sudan. This way we can tell their story to Canadian media, and complement it with information about specific programs we have in that specific country.

On the home front, I help co-ordinate interviews with our VP's and President Dave Toycen, and have so far accompanied Dave twice on media "tours" through downtown Toronto to places like CTV Newsnet, Business News Net, Global National, City TV, CP24. During these visits I help Dave keep up with the hectic schedule of interviews.

For instance yesterday we did a live hit on CityTV from 12:30-1 p.m., another hit from 1-1:30 p.m., did a pre-interview with Global National on the way to the car, took an interview with National Post at 1:45 p.m., Globe and Mail at 2:10 p.m. (these two were done while navigating downtown Toronto enroute to the DVP for Global's studios), and finally Global National and Local from 2:30-3:00 p.m.

When things aren't so crazy, I do things like create fact sheets and backgrounders on countries so that in the event of emergencies, we have a solid background of how many sponsored children we have, how many programs are in that country, etc. This way we can quickly brief ourselves, and be able to tell the media what World Vision Canada is doing there.

FF: What do you enjoy best about working at World Vision Canada?

AS: Helping children. The best thing about my job is stepping back from the insanity and knowing that we are all, as an organization, helping children, families and others who are in need. Often in times of crisis or emergency, we are so busy that I find it takes a deep breath and removing yourself from the situation to be able to look at the big picture and think of who we are helping. That is where I can find motivation and strength to work even harder so that we can continue helping them.

FF: What's it like being at the heart of a humanitarian disaster like the recent crisis we’ve seen in Myanmar?

AS: Insane. We've had two major events in the last two weeks: the food crisis announcement on April 23rd and Cyclone Nargis on May 5th. Everyone in the office says this isn't normal, and for the sake of the victims of both of these situations, I hope it isn't.

That being said, these are the kinds of things that some of us thrive on. The fast-paced environment of fielding and managing media calls is often high stress as you try and keep everyone happy while raising awareness of World Vision is one that I truly love.

I also work with a phenomenal team who have been such great teachers and mentors. The combination of exposure to the events of the past two weeks, their guidance and encouragement, and the confidence they have in me is giving me an experience I will never be able to get again, and I am extremely thankful for that.

FF: How did Loyalist PR help prepare you for your current position?

AS: I had a mini-panic attack about five weeks before the end of term. Kerry taught us so much and had covered off everything so well, but I was worried that I wouldn't remember it all, or wouldn't have the confidence to apply it. It was clear from day one of my internship though that I was so well-prepared for everything they threw at me, and even the things that were new to me were a breeze.

That's because Loyalist PR teaches you how to deal with new things. If I hadn't been through the Loyalist PR program, I know I wouldn't have been able to have the confidence that I now have on the job, and the courage in my work to be able to jump off a cliff and know there will be a working parachute to guide me to a successful, safe landing.

FF: All the best – you’re doing a wonderful job, Alex and we’re proud of you!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario: centre of the PR universe?

One of the questions I’m often asked by students considering the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College is, “Where exactly is Belleville?”

Once I explain we’re located on the shore of Lake Ontario, an equal distance between Ottawa and Toronto, I point out that our classroom is filled with a variety of university and college graduates from right across the country (and, in some cases, around the world).

This year, for instance, our class of 30 outstanding Loyalist PR students hail from the University of Toronto, the University of Manitoba, the University of Ottawa, Dalhousie University, the University of Prince Edward Island, Queens University, the University of Western Ontario, Memorial University (Newfoundland), Loyalist College and Fanshawe College.

What’s more, our students find internships all across Canada with some of the nation’s leading PR firms, corporations, non-profit agencies and media outlets. We compete against the country’s very best, and are highly successful in our placement process.

As I write this blog, this year’s Loyalist PR students are completing internships with a variety of employers in cities like Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, London, St. John’s (Newfoundland), Mississauga, Ajax, as well as Belleville and the surrounding area.

Throughout the year, our students also enjoy guest visits from some of the brightest and the best PR professionals in Canada. During the past two semesters, for instance, we welcomed PR and communications professionals into our classroom from a broad range of organizations, including:

• Hill & Knowlton (Toronto)
• Argyle Communications (Toronto)
• World Wildlife Fund (Toronto)
• World Vision (Mississauga)
• Ontario Hockey League
• Hala Events & Communications (Toronto)
• Canada News Wire (Toronto)
• News Canada (Toronto)
• MarketWire (Toronto)
• Cake Beauty (Toronto)
• Mitsubishi Canada (Mississauga)
• Marshall Fenn (Toronto)
• MacDonald & Company (Toronto)
• Diana Robinson & Associations (Guelph)
• Office of Premier Gordon Campbell (Victoria, BC)

and many more.

Finally, Loyalist PR students enjoy field trips to cities such as Ottawa and Toronto, and regularly participate in CPRS Toronto chapter events.

In short, studying PR in Belleville offers the best of both worlds: all the advantages of a high-quality, one-year, post-graduate education while living in an affordable and safe community on one of the most beautiful college campuses in Ontario.

What’s not to love?

For more information about Loyalist College or enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations, contact Professor Kerry Ramsay, Post-Graduate Public Relations Program Co-ordinator at or call 1-888-LOYALIST, ext. 2127.

You can also enroll directly at the Ontario Colleges web site.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

PR students raise $11,000+ for charity

Students of the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College raised more than $11,000 for charity this spring as part of their final semester (pictured here: the Gourmet Marche Gala team).

The fundraising projects were planned during the first semester in the students’ Fundraising Fundamentals class, and implemented second semester through their Event Management course.

Among the beneficiaries of this year’s student team fundraising projects were:

Fixed Fur Life - $1,983.76 raised by Pet Glamour Day

Bridging the Gap - $501 raised by Local Luxuries Raffle

Big Brothers and Big Sisters - $200 raised by students through Wild & Wonderful Workshops; American Eagle matched the students’ fundraising efforts with an additional $250 contribution through its Salute Program, since one of its employees was on the team.

World Vision Canada - $700 raised through a twoonie drive to supply underfunded, overseas classrooms

Salvation Army - $175 raised through a student yard sale

Loyalist College Foundation - $7,500 raised through the Gourmet Marche Gala fundraiser in celebration of the college’s 40th anniversary; the Ontario Trust for Student Support (OTSS) also matched the students’ fundraising efforts, bringing the grand total of funds raised to $15,000. Funds will be added to the student endowment fund for financial assistance.

"The fundraising project was a great learning experience for me. I was able to exercise the skills and techniques that I have learned from the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist, as well as have a great time raising money and awareness for a local charity,” says Loyalist PR student Katie Dudley.

Fellow Loyalist PR student Kate Shaughnessy adds, “Our fundraising event allowed me to hone the skills I have been developing throughout the year. From the planning stages to the execution of the event, I gained a great deal of experience, and it opened my eyes to the amount of work that goes into event management. The entire process was both stressful and exhilarating. Months of research, organization and preparation resulted in hundreds of dollars that will help to better the lives of those who are less fortunate. It was an amazing feeling to be a part of that."

In a note of thanks, Fixed Fur Life President Darlene Quinsey remarks, “I want to take the opportunity to commend your PR students for their wonderful efforts in planning and implementing the Pet Glamour Day fundraiser."

"The idea was brilliant and attracted an overwhelming number of people and their pets," she adds. "The concept was unique and appealed to many. The event was carefully planned and to my knowledge took place with zero complications which I would attribute to the carefully thought out details. This was a very mature dedicated group and I would not hesitate to recommend their planning and PR skills."

Congratulations to all our student fundraising teams!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Students and employers grade Loyalist PR

Recent results from an independent study of Key Performance Indicators (2007) for the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College reveal that students and employers alike are highly impressed with the program -- and the results it’s getting in the workplace.

Here are a few of the survey’s findings:

Students speak:

Ability to provide skills and abilities specific to your chosen career – 100% satisfaction

Includes topics relevant to your future success – 100% satisfaction

Teachers' knowledge of subjects – 90% satisfaction

Teachers’ presentation of the subject material – 100% satisfaction

Quality of classroom learning – 95% satisfaction

Helpfulness of teachers outside class – 90% satisfaction

Teachers are up-to-date/current in their fields – 90% satisfaction

Your overall college experience
– 90% satisfaction

Overall your program is giving you knowledge and skills that will be useful in your future career – 95% satisfaction

Overall quality of the learning experiences in this program – 95% satisfaction

Employers speak:

Based on the same independent survey results, here's what employers have to say about the Loyalist PR students they are currently employing:

Quality of work – 96% satisfaction

Teamwork – 100% satisfaction

Problem solving – 92% satisfaction

Computer skills – 96% satisfaction

Productivity – 92% satisfaction

Adaptable – 96% satisfaction

Responsible – 96% satisfaction

How would you rate your satisfaction with this employee’s overall college preparation for the type of work he/she was doing? – 96%

In the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program we are committed to the pursuit of excellence, and will continue to put forward our best efforts in preparing our students for a dynamic and ever-changing workforce.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

PRISM Awards Honour Student Excellence

Students of the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College gathered together with professors, college staff and advisory committee members for the third annual PRISM Awards, held at the Bohemian Penguin in Belleville, Ontario.

PRISM Award winners for 2008 are as follows:

PRISM Service Award - Sylvia Draaistra

PRISM Innovation Award - Chris Thompson

PRISM Professionalism Award - Jennifer Boyd

PRISM Spirit Award - Hollie Stephenson

PRISM Student Excellence Award - Kate Shaughnessy

PRISM Mentorship Award - Bonnie Perrigard, Public Relations & Promotion Director of the Quinte Ballet School of Canada

Congratulations to all award winners, and to all our students! We are proud of each and every one of you, and your many achievements.

We wish you all the best as you set out on your internship adventures next week.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

MarketWire Morning Mingle brings together students and professionals

On Wednesday morning, professional communicators from Kingston, Belleville, Peterborough, Quinte West, Prince Edward County and Cobourg enjoyed a chance to get together, share ideas and gain new insights into the field of public relations.

The breakfast was held at the Bay of Quinte Golf & Country Club and hosted by students in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College.

Keynote speaker Mark Hunter LaVigne of Hunter LaVigne Communications treated the audience to a great presentation entitled “Making Ink and Airtime in a Cluttered Media Landscape.”

“Today’s media move at the speed of light,” he noted, pointing out many effective techniques for capturing the interest of today’s news editors and reporters.

Official Sponsorship for the event was provided by MarketWire, while Mentorship Sponsors included Dr. Geoff Cudmore (Loyalist College), News Canada, PR Communications Inc., Royal Roads University and Thornley Fallis. Friend Sponsorship was provided by Quadra Research.

“I found the workshop quite informative, and yes this old dog can still learn some new tricks!” comments Gerry Fraiberg of Vision & Voice/Fraiberg Communications. “The MarketWire Morning Mingle was a good networking opportunity with a very knowledgeable and funny speaker.”

Thanks to all our participants -- and stay tuned for next year’s big networking breakfast event!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Senior communications staffer from World Vision visits Loyalist PR

This morning Philip Maher, Senior Correspondent (and all-round communications wizard) from World Vision paid a visit to Loyalist PR students to share his insights and expertise in the field of not-for-profit public relations.

Philip's presentation covered everything from building the credibility of a non-profit brand to practical tips on media relations.

"World Vision is about helping the poor and dealing with the root causes of poverty," he explains.

As the largest distributor of food for the UN's World Food Program, World Vision also enjoys top-of-mind brand awareness, and manages an effective (and comprehensive) communications campaign

On a related note, a team of PR students will be raising funds for World Vision this Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Loyalist Cafeteria and Shark Tank Pub. For $2, students and faculty can help contribute toward the purchase of school supplies for students in need overseas.

Pictured above: Loyalist PR students and Philip Maher of World Vision (second from the left).

PHOTO CREDIT: Anthony Damonse, Online Pioneer

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tara Wood of WWF-Canada visits Loyalist

Loyalist PR students had a great time yesterday sitting in on a session by Tara Wood, Public Relations Manager for the World Wildlife Fund (Canada).

Named one of Marketing Magazine’s “Ones to Watch” for 2007, Tara shared with us her knowledge and enthusiasm for the field of public relations, and the projects she is currently overseeing.

One of those projects is Earth Hour, which takes place on March 29th from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. As Tara describes it, Earth Hour is a “one-hour, lights out event that’s designed to get people to take action for the planet.”

Pioneered by WWF in Sydney, Australia last year, Earth Hour is going global on March 29th, with participating cities including Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver, Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and dozens of others.

“Our goal is to get people to think beyond the one-hour, lights out event,” says Tara. “We want to get people thinking about creating a conservation culture.”

To register for Earth Hour, visit the WWF's Earth Hour link.

Thanks for a fantastic visit, Tara. We enjoyed your hearing about the various campaigns you've been involved with, as well as your tips for internship and job hunting.

We’ll be joining millions of others on March 29th as the lights go out!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Get on the ball... Loyalist PR now accepting fall applications!

Interested in enrolling in the Post-Graduate Public Relations Program at Loyalist College for the fall of 2008? If so, we're now taking applications!

To join our fall program, simply visit the Ontario Colleges web site and register to enroll.

In order to apply, you must have completed either a college diploma or a university degree, since this is a post-graduate program.

Last year's program was waitlisted, so act today!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Professor Kerry Ramsay, Program Co-ordinator at or by phone at 1-888-LOYALIST, ext. 2127 (drop the T if calling by cell phone).

The Five Minute Mentor: Featuring Robin Luymes

Today’s Five Minute Mentor features Loyalist College grad Robin Luymes, now working as Public Relations Manager for Quixtar Inc., based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Loyalist PR:
What’s the coolest thing about working in PR at Quixtar?

Robin Luymes: I've been with the Quixtar and Amway companies for 16 years and the best thing has been variety. I view my job here to be the chief "story teller" for the company with public audiences, employees, our business partners, and more. We tell those stories through our interface with news media, but also through web communications, our sponsorships and philanthropy, and so much more.

Loyalist PR: What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Robin Luymes: As a professional communicator for nearly 20 years, I'm always seeking feedback on what I write. With a blog, you get that immediately. If your readers think you're off the mark, they let you know. If they agree with you, they might even elaborate on your points with their own experiences, adding depth and meaning to your views.

From a PR perspective, it’s an excellent tool to achieve for your clients the “mutually beneficial” relationship that is at the core of our profession, provided they’re willing to be open, honest and transparent. A true blog, to be respected, has a true “voice,” an identified author, a unique point of view, and a willingness to publish comments that are not always flattering.

Loyalist PR: What's the most innovative advancement in social media you've come across lately?

Robin Luymes: There are lots of innovations for which the most appropriate use has not yet been discovered. I’ve met the creator of Twitter, for instance, who also developed Blogger, which later was bought by Google. I like to say I know the guy who created Blogger and Twitter, but I have no idea what deep, human need Twitter solves yet. I’m sure someone will discover it.

My most recent fascination has been with Facebook. For most students, this is probably a funny thing. But for all of us who graduated from college some 20 years ago, Facebook only became open to us in the past year or so. It’s been a great tool to reconnect with friends from long ago. Sadly, I’ve had the least success reconnecting with old friends from my days in Loyalist’s Print Journalism program.

Loyalist PR: Looking ahead two to three years, where do you see the growth in jobs for the field of public relations, both in the U.S. and in Canada?

Robin Luymes: I’ve been in the U.S. since I graduated from Loyalist, so I’m not as familiar with the Canadian business scene. I think it’s probably true that the Public Relations profession has made tremendous strides in Canada, as it has in the U.S., over the past few decades. Companies are beginning to understand the tremendous value of PR to achieve business results. The fact that there is a PR program at Loyalist is a key indicator (to me) that the profession has made great gains in Canada. I didn’t even know what PR was when I went to Loyalist in the mid-‘80s.

Advertising does a good job of delivering a message. PR is better at creating a dialog and creating trust. With the boom in web communications and social media plus the heightened awareness of the value of Corporate Social Responsibility, the PR profession is well-positioned for continued growth.

Loyalist PR: Have you had a mentor during your career, and if so, what impact did he/she have on you?

Robin Luymes: My mentor is my boss, with whom I’ve worked 16 years now. I don’t think we’ve ever talked about our relationship in terms of “mentor/mentee,” but that’s essentially what it has been.

When I joined this company in 1991, I had no background in Public Relations. I was a reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal and covered a lot of major companies based in the West Michigan region. When approached to make the switch from news media to public relations, I did so because the pay was better.

While I could already write, there were aspects of Public Relations I needed to learn from scratch. That’s why having a mentor in the workplace worked well for me. I also became a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), through which I received accreditation in 2001.

These days I’m always thrilled to help younger practitioners and students learn more about Public Relations as a profession and a career.