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.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Time to exhale...

It's spring break time, everyone! Time to take a deep breath, relax... and get ready for March madness.

The month of March will be a busy one for Loyalist PR students with our Community Media Workshop series (March 10-14th), MarketWire Morning Mingle networking breakfast (March 19th), PRISM Awards (March 26th) and plenty in between.

So enjoy the time off, and let's look forward to the last month of classes together as we gear up for internship season.

See you in March, everyone!


Friday, February 15, 2008

Loyalist PR hosts Job Fair 2008

A big thanks to all the Loyalist PR students who helped host this year's Job Fair 2008 at Loyalist College.

With nearly 100 employers and an endless stream of students, the day was a great success. Loyalist PR students were involved from welcoming employers to set-up, take-down and hosting of the event.

We couldn't have done it without you - thanks for your professionalism and enthusiasm on this important day!

Friday, February 08, 2008

PR students ring in the Year of the Rat

Understanding the global impact of public relations is key when it comes to communicating effectively in a world of disappearing borders.

Yesterday, a week of fascinating (and often delicious) intercultural experiences came to a close with Loyalist PR students welcoming in the Chinese New Year (Year of the Rat).

We would especially like to thank Lucinda Pritchard of the International Student Centre at Loyalist College for arranging such a wonderful feast for us, and for connecting us with such an interesting group of international students.

Thanks also to the EAP (English for Academic Purposes) faculty and students from Egypt, Japan, Korea and Cuba who participated in a lively roundtable on intercultural relations. As professional communicators, we now have a better understanding of your unique cultures, as well as an appreciation for our own.

Happy Chinese New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

NEW FEATURE: The Five Minute Mentor

Today we’re launching a new blog feature called “The Five Minute Mentor.” From time to time, we’ll be dedicating this space to five-minute interviews with some of our favourite mentors in the public relations industry.

Our first Five Minute Mentor features Joel Levesque, Vice President, Public Affairs, Moosehead Breweries Ltd.

Loyalist PR: Joel, what’s the social media tool you can't live without?

Joel Levesque: I've recently subscribed to a new blog-monitoring and measurement tool called Radian6. No self-respecting practitioner can live without this service. Radian6 takes the guess work out of monitoring on-line conversations and postings. For PR professionals working for consumer goods companies (like Moosehead Breweries) managing social media commentary about your products is now mandatory. I have already used Radian6 to flag a potentially embarrassing issue thus allowing me to intervene quickly. I was able to turn a disgruntled consumer into a fan overnight. I am so impressed with Radian6 that I invested in the firm.

Loyalist PR: What's the one word or phrase that is so overused in the industry you'd like to see it banished forever from PR vernacular?

Joel Levesque:
I absolutely detest the term "Spin Doctor". Spin doctors usually work for politicians and spend their miserable lives twisting facts and distorting reality. I've only met one spin doctor in my life. I hope to hell I never meet another. I will leave the last word on this subject to the legendary American PR practitioner, Thomas L. Harris. Writing last year about U.S. politics, Harris said, "I am profoundly disturbed by the high jacking of public relations, which I always thought was about truth-telling, by its bastard stepbrother spin."

Loyalist PR: What’s the title of one book every PR student should read before they graduate?

Joel Levesque: The best PR book I've read is not about PR, it's about advertising. David Ogilvy's 1983 classic, Ogilvy on Advertising, chronicles the author's success in the ad biz. He started as a junior and ended up building the world's largest ad agency. But substitute the word "communications" for "advertising" in the book and the reader will come away with wonderful insights about reaching and influencing consumers (publics in PR parlance). Plus, it's one of the most entertaining books you'll every read.

Loyalist PR: If you hadn't wound up in PR, what would you be doing right now?

Joel Levesque: I left my first year of university because I hated the parochial feel of the small liberal-arts institution I was attending. My objective was to work for the rest of year, then enroll at a larger university. I got a job at the local phone company delivering the inter-departmental mail. The only office in the company where employees seemed to be enjoying their work was the PR department. After 10 months as the mail boy, I applied for a junior post in the PR department and got the job. If the good folks at the phone company hadn't given me a chance at PR, I probably would have retired 25 years later as a senior
clerk in their warehouse.

Loyalist PR: Finally, tell us about a mentor who's made a difference in your career.

Joel Levesque: I've been blessed with the opportunity to work with a number of superb PR people throughout my career. But my favourite was Ron Coulson. Ron was an old-school practitioner and was kind enough to take an active role in the development of his young charges. Ron not only encouraged me to return to school, but also taught me the value of volunteer service to my profession and my community. Thirty years on I still keep in touch with Ron and remind him every so often of his role in the success of my career. He claims his influence was minor; it most certainly was not.

Loyalist PR: Thanks for your time, Joel! All the best at Moosehead.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Loyalist PR grad discusses event planning

In yesterday’s Event Management class, Loyalist PR students had a chance to sit in on a high-energy presentation by one of our alumni, Amanda Attard (Loyalist PR 06/07). Since graduating this past June, Amanda has been working full-time as the Events Assistant at Hala Events & Communicationsof Toronto.

Amanda’s natural skill for lighting up a room and conveying her passion for events management gave students a taste of high-end event planning, including glimpses inside some of Toronto’s hottest charity events.

Students picked up tips on everything from event crisis management to creating corporate sponsorship kits that will turn heads.

Amanda also joined students for a post-class networking luncheon where the conversation continued!

Thanks for brightening our day, Amanda. We wish you and Hala Events & Communicationsthe very best of success.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Loyalist PR gets pointers on grant writing

An integral part of non-profit communications is grant proposal writing, and this week, Loyalist PR students got first-hand training from Bonnie Perrigard, Public Relations Director for the Quinte Ballet School of Canada.

Bonnie's presentation outlined the 5 W's of grant writing, including understanding WHO your organization is (and its niche in the marketplace), WHAT you're applying for, WHEN to apply, WHERE to find grant databases and other sources of funding, and finally WHY the needs of your organization dovetail with the motivations of the funding organization.

Thanks, Bonnie, for the excellent pointers, and for leading a lively classroom discussion on this important skill.