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!