Saturday, March 16, 2013

5 tips to land your PR dream job

1.      Always be curious

Credit: m.inmagine.com
Learning doesn’t stop once you obtain your university degree. If you expect to become a successful public relations professional, you must remember to never stop learning. Yes, I know, you just finished studying like a crazy person for several months, and if you could never read a book EVER again, you would.

To ensure you stay ahead of the game, you should attend conferences, webinars, networking events and read up on PR blogs and websites.



I especially recommend PR Daily because they offer insightful articles about writing, media relations, crisis management and the latest news in the public relations industry. I particularly appreciated their article entitled, "4 skills PR newbies should possess (if they want a job)".


2. Network, network, network

I’m sure you’ve heard the popular saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Well, I don’t completely agree with that statement as I believe being knowledgeable is a valuable trait. That being said, building relationships with people in the public relations community is primordial. After all, you are in this business to ‘build relationships’, aren’t you? I encourage you to check out associations' websites such as the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) as they regularly host networking events in your area.


3.  Volunteer

Non-profit organizations are always looking for volunteers with specialized skills. As they often lack monetary resources to support their public relations efforts, they would be thrilled to have a public relations student help them with their communication needs. This may not be your first choice because you won’t get paid for your contributions but it’s an excellent way to gain valuable work experience

Credit: sobcdelta.org


4.  Write, write, write and then, write some more

Practice makes perfect. A blog is a great way to hone your writing skills and the more you post, the more potential writing samples you can accumulate. Oftentimes, the IABC is looking for volunteer writes for their blogs, websites and social media sites. This is an excellent way to gain valuable writing experience.


5.  Be proactive during your job search

Research organizations that you admire and that you could support through public relations efforts. An organization that you can support is one that would benefit from your expertise and if you can display that you know something about them, and that you’re ready to help them, you may get yourself a job.

You should also approach individuals within this company even if they don’t have a job posting. This notion is related to the importance of networking, and it’s never too early to start. 

Remember: Stay #plugged into current events to become a successful public relations professional. After all, knowledge is power.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Why I quit my job to pursue a career in public relations



The first thing that comes to my mind when someone talks about Public Relations is an image of Samantha Jones from Sex and the City wearing a fashionable suit in her corner office.

Now, I know that Samantha Jones is not a typical publicist. Nonetheless, I find her amusing, but this is certainly not why I chose to pursue a career in public relations.

My educational background is a Bachelor in Commerce, majoring in Marketing and International Business. With my degree, I started working in a marketing department for a financial services company.

The first year was great, but I quickly realized that it wasn’t a job I could do everyday. It wasn’t challenging to me, it didn’t make me feel useful, and I certainly wasn’t passionate about the work I did.

I felt that my purpose was to ‘make things work’ for our financial consultants’ marketing materials. My feedback wasn’t valued and I didn’t feel that I was contributing to society as a whole. My heart wasn’t in it, and I knew I had to quit.

For many months before I resigned, I searched for another job, and it seemed that everything that interested me was related to communications. I was familiar with the Creative Communications program at the Red River College as I’ve had friends graduate from this program, but it didn’t seem right for me. I would have to sacrifice two years of my life, and I wasn’t ready to commit this much time, especially because I knew I wanted to uniquely pursue Public Relations.

During a lunch outing at Stella’s at the Plug In center, I noticed a Public Relations Diploma Program flyer on my way to the washroom in the University of Winnipeg's Buhler centre. I read the program outline, and all the courses piqued my interest. 

Perfect! I was so excited to have found this flyer and as a popular saying goes: Everything happens for a reason.

Needless to say, I am currently a Public Relations student at the University of Winnipeg. I’ve come to realize that I am extremely passionate about public relations and I am eager to begin my career as a public relations professional. 


Why do I like public relations so much? Good question, here are a  few reasons:

Credit: constantcontact.com

1. I adore building relationships with others and helping people get their message out.
 

2. Most people hate this part, but I LOVE researching. I love finding the small details others wouldn’t think are relevant.
 

3. I would rather find new ways to communicate with people then market products/services to them.  

4. Being creative, being organized, being timely and being committed are all qualities that I possess and that are important in public relations.


5. Public Relations is an ever-evolving field and I adore learning new things on a daily basis. Did I mention I religiously read PR Daily?



Public relations isn’t for everyone, but if you’re passionate about communications, building relationships and telling great stories to others, you may have found your calling.

#pluggedingal #PRrocks #UofWPR


Discovering Winnipeg food, wine and more


As a former waitress and self-proclaimed foodie, I consider myself to be #plugged into the Winnipeg restaurant scene. I frequent hip and new restaurants whenever I can.  Quite frankly, I would rather spend my hard-earned cash by enjoying a romantic evening with my lover or a fun night with my girlfriends at a restaurant than at a hockey game, for example.

I should also mention that it helps that my boyfriend’s family invites me to their Friday night restaurant outings. How could you decline a chance to enjoy good company and good food?  Well, I can’t and I don’t which has contributed to my deep appreciation for divine restaurant food.

Gastronomy is the art of food eating. I LOVE discovering new foods, new wines, new food eating rituals and I must admit, I am quite envious of food bloggers and food critics who are paid to devour delicious foods, wines and more.

Out of all the global cuisines, I would deem the Spanish cuisine to be my favorite. I first developed my appreciation for tapas during a trip with my boyfriend to Barcelona. We randomly stumbled upon a tapas restaurant, they had a seat at the bar, and this is where the magic began. We got to taste a variety of foods, bacon wrapped dates, seafood, olives, etc. It was delightful.

 













When we returned to Winnipeg, we discovered Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant. They opened their doors on Stradbrook avenue in November 2009 and they were recently ranked as being of one of Canada’s Top 50 restaurants.

I absolutely agree with these critics and I would even state that Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant is the BEST restaurant in Winnipeg.  I am not an expert foodie, but I’ve been to tapas restaurants in Winnipeg, Montréal and Minneapolis and not one of them can compete with Segovia.

Credit: Urbanspoon


I also cherish my visits to Segovia because of its relaxing ambiance. When I go with my boyfriend, we always enjoy discussing what we liked and didn’t like about each dish by rating them.  We often agree, but sometimes our ratings are completely off.

Some of the best tapas at Segovia, I would say are: the patatas bravas, the bison tartare, the scallops with cauliflower purée and I couldn’t end this list without mentioning the smoked duck risotto.

My last visit was in December 2012 and I’m already planning my tapas line-up for my next visit. Here’s a few dishes I would love to try at Segovia:


1. Baharat Spiced Oxtail, Flatbread, Maple Tzatziki, Kale
2. Arctic Char a La Plancha, Bacon, Creamed Leeks, Romesco Sauce
3. Seared Scallops, Sun Choke Puree, Pickled Apples, Foie Gras Torchon
4. Confit Rabbit, Savoy Cabbage, Fine Herbs, Mustard Seed Labneh



Just thinking about these dishes is making me drool. I feel like Homer when he dreams of eating mountains of donuts.

One word: Delicioso

If you still haven’t tried Segovia, you must put it on your bucket list. You will not regret it.

Segovia, you are my one true restaurant love and I will miss you dearly when I move to Montréal.

#pluggedingal  #gastronomyrocks  #segoviaesmuydelicioso

A prairie girl’s journey to Montréal


It was a late Friday afternoon and I was picking up tomato sauce at a local supermarket before heading to work.  As I was waiting in line to pay, I picked up a phone call from my boyfriend.

Credit: webpages.mcgill.ca


He just received an email from the Faculty of Law at McGill University.

My heart stopped because I could hear hesitation and excitement in his voice but I couldn’t figure out if he received good or bad news…

GOOD NEWS! He was accepted into the Faculty of Law at McGill University!!! I’m extremely proud of him, I knew he was a smart cookie when I first met him.


 I also happen to LOVE Montréal. It’s a charming and multicultural city that is home to a plethora of unique restaurants, an eclectic art scene and a hub for PR jobs (just what I’m looking for!) I’ve also travelled to Montréal numerous times, as it is my boyfriend’s hometown.

Happiness, nervousness and fear are the best way I can describe how I felt at that exact moment. I can't believe I am actually moving to Montréal.

Credit: popmontreal.com


When I announced my ‘good news’ to my parents, my mom wasn’t exactly jumping for joy. In fact, she was worried, nervous and sad. I don’t blame her, it’s never easy to see your child move to another city even if it’s just two and a half hours away by plane.

And then, the perfect idea came to her mind. She was convinced that I should work at Air Canada. “Their headquarters are in Montréal and I’m sure they have a public relations department”, she says.

I tried not to laugh because I knew she wasn’t being completely truthful.

“Do you want me to work at Air Canada so you can get discounted flights to Montréal?”, I quickly responded.

She started laughing hysterically yet tried to deny this is why she thought Air Canada would be a great fit for me.

These are the types of conversations I will miss. I will evidently continue to converse with my family and friends through Skype, but it won’t be the same.

I’d be lying if I said I’m happy to be leaving Winnipeg. I’m not. I will always keep a special place in my heart for Winnipeg; after all, my friends and family are Winnipeggers. To name a few, here are some landmarks that I will always cherish:

1. Wellington Crescent (It’s a lovely place for walkers, joggers and runners)
2. Segovia Tapas Bar and Restaurant (I’ve at some of my best meals here)
3. St. Boniface neighbourhood (I was raised in this quaint neighbourhood)
4. Albert beach (I’ve enjoyed many summers at this beach with friends and family)
5. Université de Saint-Boniface (This is where I met my boyfriend)

Credit: www.entreprisesriel.com

Needless to say, I am thrilled about moving to Montréal but Winnipeg will always be my home and my first love.



#Winnipeg #Montréal #LoveCanada

Monday, December 3, 2012

Strategic PR Plan - Art in the Exchange

Below you will find my Strategic PR Plan for three art galleries located in the heart of the Exchange District of Winnipeg, Manitoba.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Hello Canada! Expect More. Pay Less. Is that eh ok?

smartcanucks.ca

Target Canada will face stiff competition when it arrives in 2013. I believe that Target  can convince Canadian consumers to chose them over the other guy if they position themselves correctly. That being said,  how can Target accomplish this? Most importantly, can Canadians truly embrace Target as THE new upscale discounter in their fine country?

Similarly to the U.S., Target caters to women. This target audience is characterized as having significant purchasing power, they exercise great influence as opinion leaders and are "multi-minded". As the Canadian economy is quite strong, their purchasing power will work in Target’s favour as they will be instrumental in deciding whether or not their household will shop at Target or continue to acquire their goods at other large  Canadian retailers.

Firstly, Target must ensure that its brand and its "bull’s eye" logo becomes top of mind for Canadian consumers. In order to accomplish this objective, they will need to integrate it into their marketing and public relations tactics and play up its colours as their logo  and the Canadian flag share the same colours. Also, their upscale discounter image can be successful in Canada if Target continuously communicates their strong value proposition of  "Expect More.Pay Less" as part of their overall strategy.

We must also consider Target's competition such as Walmart, Canadian Tire, Sears Canada and JOE Fresh. To counter this threat, Target must continue to position itself as a trendy and hip retailer whose mission it is to ensure its guests live a unique shopping experience while acquiring high quality items at discount prices. This will help differentiate them from Walmart, for example, as they prefer to focus on offering consumers everyday low prices.

This leads us to the exciting part: Tactics! To successfully enter Canada, Target will need  to integrate Canada's cultural diversity into its tactics. As they have never encountered this challenge, I've come up with a few suggestions to help them receive a warm welcome from my fellow Canucks.

My first attempt to create buzz and excitement around the Target brand would be to stage a special event in popular shopping malls across Canada. I would send out press kits to local fashion reporters and invite local bloggers to attend the event.  The special event would feature models wearing Target's designer clothing and Target representatives would give out goodie bags while serving local fare, for example, mini poutines in Montréal.


agoracosmopolitan.com

The main attraction would be a large version of the Target logo. People could potentially win  a variety of Target gift cards by playing darts with the logo. The maximum prize would be $1,000 and presented to people who reached the center of the bull’s eye.

The second tactic will build on Target’s design for all mantra and would be announced a week after the special event. Target would launch a new designer competition and encourage Canadian designers from across the country to create an apparel line for their store. The winner would be awarded $10,000 and their collection would be featured in their own "Shop".

The competition would be promoted through a national TV ad campaign similar to their current commercials yet tailored to engage a Canadian audience. In addition, I would reach out to local fashion reporters as well as local fashion schools. I would also post information on Target's  social media pages and create a Twitter hashtag: #designforcanada to incite participants to share their collections with Target's followers.  




Participants would need to create a full Winter 2013 collection clothing line that integrates at least one revamped traditional Canadian apparel item, i.e. moccasins, or a new Canadian item, i.e. Japanese kimono. The final participants’ collections would be judged by Canadian opinion leaders which would include Jeanne Beker, Marilyn Denis and Flare magazine’s new editor in chief, Miranda Purves. The winner and their collection would be announced on the opening day of Target's first store in Toronto. This will help attract curious consumers and local media who are eager to purchase or view their fellow Canadian's clothing line.

I am confident that by using these proposed public relations tactics to support Target as THE new upscale discounter in Canada that they would not only satisfy Canadian consumers’ stylish and unique tastes but that they would topple their competition in 2013.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Is it too late to say I'm sorry?


Timing is everything in the world of public relations.  The need to juggle multiple priorities, deadlines and budgets for a client may tempt a PR practitioner to immediately create a to-do list. This is a common mistake but it is also a grave one.



Test, test, test….Is anybody listening? 

Companies tend to think they already understand the needs of their customer but do they take the time to assess and re-assess their needs on a regular basis? If not,how can they be confident their communication tactics will be effective? 

"The goals of communication are to inform, persuade, motivate, or achieve mutual understanding," therefore a clear understanding of your publics is primordial.  Once you've determined your audience's needs, you can better craft key messages that will grab their attention and enable you to truly engage with them.

Without having done the back work, it is very unlikely that the dissemination of your key messages will go smoothly.  A major PR faux pas is being out of touch with your audience. “People want to be entertained, informed or alerted to opportunities that can fulfill their needs.”1 Today’s consumers are quite  savvy and can quickly detect a message that is not authentic.  Even worse, they may ignore it.

A botched campaign is not only detrimental to one’s career but you’ll also be left to deal with one angry client.



Netflix: How to lose and alienate customers

Netflix’s PR blunder stemmed from an overconfident CEO who stopped listening to his customers and disregarded their needs.In July 2011, Netflix announced to its customers that they would be increasing their prices in addition to separating its DVDs and unlimited streaming services.

Price hikes are not unusual but in Netflix's case, they failed to explain why they implemented the price hike ? What did this mean for their current or future customers?  What was their strategy? 

The bottom line was : Customers would now be paying more for less.

Netflix may have thought that masking the reason for their price hike through euphemisms would play in their favor but it did quite the opposite. Customers were infuriated and didn’t hesitate to share their thoughts online. Within minutes, Netflix was trending as #FAIL on Twitter and was being slammed all over the blogosphere.



Don't forget to throw in an insincere apology

Netflix chose to stay silent amidst receiving thousands of complaints. In a crisis management situation, listening and responding to your customers’ needs is key.

To make matters worse, when Netflix’s CEO, Reed Hastings, finally decided to respond, his apologize was insincere and he did not address the price hike issue. In fact, he took the opportunity to unveil Qwikster, their sister company who would manage their DVDs by mail. Customers would now be forced to log in to Qwikster and Netflix separately.  

This was not exactly a more convenient way for customers to access their services. Can anyone say #FAIL?




Let us not forget that the owner of the Twitter handle @Qwikster was an avid marijuana consumer and loved to integrate sexual innuendos into his tweets. Netflix may need a refresher course on the importance of research.

Needless to say, Qwikster was abandoned and Mr. Hastings admitted he tried to move forward too quickly. In the end, their lack of transparency and strategy resulted in the loss of “800,000 subscribers, its stock price dropped 77 percent in four months, and management's reputation was battered,” as reported by CNET.

This is a perfect example of what not to do when re-branding. It is evident that Netflix hadn’t done the back work. Ultimately, they alienated their clients and they ended up paying the price.



#be honest, be transparent and be timely.


Wilcox, Denis et al. (2013). THINK Public Relations. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.