Despite being able to manage my time wisely, my stress level is pretty high right now because of all my deadlines for next week. It is at least rewarding to know that my hard work does yield to great results. Today I presented on the shift from audience commodity to prosumer commodity and it went well. My group and I managed to finish our presentation within the time limit of 30 minutes, we had a great class discussion on it afterwards, and my professor was impressed with one of the questions I posed to the class. She said I have provided a unique perspective on the existing theory that we are studying in class and it has caused her to question whether or not the theory should be re-defined. My professor was very impressed and says that we have set the bar quite high for the other presenters. In spite of the stress, I am still capable of having a good day! :)
YWiB, pronounced as why WiB, is short for Young Women in Business. It is a non-profit organization aimed at connecting young women with the skills and support (workshops, panels, and network opportunities) to achieve success on their own terms and to become engaged members of the community. The organization’s goal is to make every woman’s dreams come true by allowing its members to be involved in numerous ways. There is a Ladies in Pink volunteer group, SOUL mentorship, the Beyond Pink Conference, the International Women’s Day Conference, and countless seminars held throughout an academic year. I actually had heard about this organization in my first year of university, but didn’t pay attention to it because I thought it was a business-focused group. It was recently brought to my attention again when Clare from the Peak Communicators suggested that it is a great way to network and get involved, even for people in the public relations industry. I took her advice and attended one of YWiB’s last events for this school year.
The event I attended today was the YWiB Wrap-up Party. Upon entering the tea party-themed event, there was a lot of free swag from the International Women’s Day Conference that was held last month. In the actual room, there was delicious food, a photomontage of the 2012/2013 school year, and a photo booth sponsored by Butter Studios. This was a great opportunity to meet the members and learn more about YWiB. Later on in the evening, a speech was given by the President and Vice President about success. They said that their success is measured in two ways: the first way of measuring is by targets. In the 2012/2013 school year, YWiB welcomed 120 new members, held at least 20 events, reached 1,200 Twitter followers and 500 Facebook likes, and maintained connections with over 100 companies. Success is also measured by the relationships that are formed with other members, mentors, and industry professionals through YWiB. Congratulations YWiB on another successful year!
I also got a chance to speak with the new Vice President, Michaela Klassen. She told me about some of the events that are held annually and informed me of the YWiB application process for September. I know that I am caught in a difficult situation because most organizations started hiring for executive positions in March. My absence due to my co-op term made it almost impossible to get more involved by obtaining an executive position for the upcoming school year, but I expressed this interest anyway. To my surprise, Michaela said that they are still looking to fill the position of Director of Public Relations for one of the conference committees. The hiring process for this starts in September. I am glad I asked about other opportunities to be involved! I enjoyed the event and YWiB seems like a great fit for me because the people I met are like me in a sense that they are motivated and goal-oriented. I feel like I can learn a lot from the members and from the events. I cannot wait for the new school year to start!
Talk Shop Media was established by Beth Boyle, Sara Padidar, and Katie Reiach in 2007. Their goal was to deviate from formality and tradition to make an impact on people using a three-pronged approach: traditional media relations, online PR, and direct to public and experiential marketing. This approach is one of the reasons why Talk Shop Media was recently announced as one of the Top 10 Best PR Firms in Business in Vancouver 2013. Their hard work has also yielded to client front-page features and interviews on Oprah and the CNN. Some of their projects include the Vancouver Whitecaps, Live at Squamish 2011, Mini Cooper, TEDx, and Toyota.
This afternoon I met with Tara Padidar, their General Manager. I asked her how to get involved with PRIME (Public Relations Innovators and Media Experts) because it is a great opportunity for public relations professionals to share knowledge with each other. The group, that is primarily organized by Talk Shop, has a mission statement of “we share more, we achieve more.” I believe this will be a great chance for me to gain more exposure to the industry during the summer months because Tara mentioned that there will be a meeting scheduled soon.
Another thing we talked about was the importance of keeping up with the news and media. Prior to meeting with Tara, I only followed between five to ten news outlets on Twitter and kept up with their updates on a daily basis. One of the things that I will work on this summer is to follow more news outlets on Twitter to get coverage on a broad range of topics and different interpretations on the news. This evening I now follow 32 local and international news outlets, as well as a few public relations trending topic outlets. However, online news is only one dimension of media, so I will start consulting TV and radio outlets as well. I always look for ways to learn and improve myself, so thank you Tara for helping me do so.
In January, Yulu Communications and SIP Publicity merged to become Yulu Public Relations. I was interested in learning more about Yulu because I was aware of one of their programs called Yulu Cares. The company offers its public relations services to charities and non-profit organizations at 50% of the original cost. In addition, each year Yulu selects one organization that has made a positive impact on society and donates their services for three months. I believe that a company that invests its time and money on a philanthropic cause is what makes Yulu unique. Yulu means the journey of words and telling stories that matter. The company prides itself for serving businesses and organizations that strive to make a positive impact on the people, the planet, and the economy. Some of the projects that Yulu has worked on are Artist for Conservation Festival on Grouse Mountain, Vancouver Aquarium Great Shoreline Cleanup, Okanagan Springs Brewery launches Winter Ale, Red Mountain Resort, ClearlyContacts.ca, Vancouver’s Farmers Market, and the BC Cancer Society. By sticking to their company values, Yulu received an award for Best PR Campaign of the year in 2012 at the International Stevie Awards.
Today I spoke with Nadia Gillies, the Account Manager at Yulu. She has had a great deal of PR experience, working at SIP Publicity, TalkShop Media, Spark PR and now Yulu. She used her expertise in the industry to secure client media features in Entertainment Tonight, Elle, HELLO, Globe and Mail, USA Today, and FASHION magazine. Nadia was aware that I was new to the industry, and she reassured me that it is okay that I don’t know everything about the industry right now because she said I would develop these skills later on through work experience. She said that being genuine, honest, eager, and resourceful would go a long way in their company. I am glad to have met Nadia and am thrilled to have met people that hold different positions within the public relations industry these past few days. It gives me a better understanding of the structure of the different agencies.
Last week I had called the Peak Communicators office, asking if anyone was interested in meeting with me so I can learn more about the industry. The receptionist was very friendly and did not hesitate to transfer me to someone else in the office. I briefly spoke to Charlotte Sherry the Account Director, and although she said she would be quite busy in the next few weeks, she grabbed my contact information and said she would find someone else to meet with me. Later on in the day, I was contacted by Vice President Clare Hamilton-Eddy to arrange a meeting. I spent all of last week looking forward to this meeting because I had good vibes about the company that was very helpful and friendly.
From my first encounter, I can confirm that the Peak does focus on its clients to provide the best service possible. It is evident why the Peak is considered the largest Vancouver-based public relations agency and ranked 4th in Business in Vancouver’s list of top public relation firms. They respond to clients needs quickly, and with honesty and integrity. What makes this agency different from the others is that the company allows its employees to be well rounded and knowledgeable about all aspects of public relations. Instead of hosting departmental meetings, the employees share knowledge with each other on a regular basis. Clare says that it is one of the benefits of being a local company. The Peak partners have strong media experience, and the team has international public relations experience. Some of their clients include 7-Eleven, Coast Capital, Pacific Blue Cross, Science World, Simon Fraser University, Sprott Shaw, TELUS, and the Vancouver Giants.
Clare has had news, radio, magazine and PR experience in the UK, but she said she decided to continue with public relations when she moved to Vancouver because the industry requires a wide range of skills, instead of just specializing in one. It is the same reason I am interested in the industry. She gave me the names of a few organizations that host networking events or need volunteers. She also gave me a very detailed outline of the skills and qualifications they look for in their applicants. Clare was so friendly and an absolute delight to speak to. She even encouraged me to keep in touch with her and to never hesitate to contact her if I had any more questions. I was truly honoured by the fact that the Vice President made time to meet with me, even though she did have meetings almost every hour that day.
My co-op work term may be over, but my interest in public relations is here to stay. I still have much to learn about the industry, so I have decided to spend my free time networking. I have been in contact with a few public relations agencies that are willing to meet with me, and the first one is Allison Arnould, the Human Resources representative at Edelman.
Edelman has been ranked as the #1 public relations agency in Business in Vancouver, and has been awarded titles like 50 Most Engaged Workplaces 2011/2012 and Best Workplace 2012/2013 Canada. Allison says that their success can be attributed with the fact that they use social media and digital tools to be the leading independent global public relations firm. The company applies honesty, integrity, creativity, and entrepreneurial spirit on all of their projects. Some of the projects that Edelman has worked on include Live@YVR, where a contest was conducted for someone to live at YVR airport for 80 days and share his or her experience; the 2010 Canadian Olympic Team Apparel Campaign for HBC; LiveCity Vancouver, a celebration site for the 2010 Winter Olympics; and Resort Municipality of Whistler, the branding for the Olympics. A quote I found on their website by John Edelman states that it is important to be a “responsible global citizen of the world we live in and give back to communities we operate.”
From Allison’s experience in the Human Resources field in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, she advised me to be more involved in community events and stay updated within the industry that is constantly changing due to technological advancements. She also mentioned one of the great things about working for their company is Edelman’s fellowship. She says that because Edelman has offices around the world, their employees have the opportunity to work at the other offices. I appreciate Allison spending some time to speak with me in Edelman’s new office, despite her busy schedule. She was a pleasure to meet with and I learned so much from her.
CMNSU is a departmental student union that connects students with Communications-related information by liaising with the department staff and other students. They organize Communication FROSH, workshops and events throughout the school year. The general meetings are a great way to meet other communication staff and students, and learn how to make the most of your undergraduate degree.
At the CMNSU General Meeting, I wanted to learn about ways I can get more involved. In the time that I was away, I also couldn’t have applied for any team positions because those required me to attend interviews that would be conducted while I was still on the tour. Luckily, I am able to participate on the Street Team and help out with any events. Attending the meeting was a great opportunity to speak with Neena, our Communications Undergraduate Advisor. She gave us helpful advice regarding courses, our majors, and even gave us a brief yoga class to help us de-stress.
Another thing that was discussed during the meeting was the Career in Communications 2013 event that was held on March 20 at the Vancouver Art Gallery Lounge Cafe. Unfortunately I was away, but it would have been a great opportunity to meet with some industry professionals from Electronic Arts, Fleishman-Hillard, Hootsuite, Holt Renfrew, JRFM, and Tribal DDB. I may have missed this event, but it certainly does not stop me from speaking with these professionals. I am quite eager to speak with these guests, so I contacted some of them via Twitter or e-mail. They were happy to answer my questions, and some are even willing to meet up with me!
The school year is almost over, but CMNSU will be having monthly workshops over the summer. In May, there will be a personal branding workshop with Teri Conrad, a Communications, Brand, and Promotions Strategist. In June, I am excited to attend the Introduction to Public Relations workshop with Rachel Thexton, who is an Associate Partner at Dunn Public Relations. Finally, in July there is a workshop with Amanda Panes, the Promotional Coordinator for JRFM, on blogging. I am excited for these workshops because I can develop communication skills from industry professionals. Overall, it was great seeing familiar faces and Communications classmates at the meeting. I will definitely be more involved with CMNSU in the upcoming school year.
This Spring, a team of four people (myself, Adam, Richard and Theo) travelled in two vehicles to 23 communities in British Columbia
...to host job fairs.
We drove through all kinds of weather,
and met interesting people.
I developed some skills,
saw how beautiful British Columbia is,
and had a great time on my first co-op term!
My first co-op term working with Pace Group Communications Inc. on the BC Jobs Plan was great. Looking back at this adventurous journey, I got to see 23 different communities in British Columbia and made the most of what each city or town had to offer. I got to snowboard at all the top resorts of the province, go for a wine tasting, and enjoy some scenic views and amazing weather. On top of that, I made new friends and developed new skills like media relations and writing professional reports.
The most important thing that I will take away from this experience is working in a team. I was the youngest of the four; Theo was two years older than me, Adam was ten years older and Richard was twenty years older. Despite our age gap and different personalities, we managed to work well together. The key was our team bonding activities like talking in the car, going bowling, or playing board games. This helped us become a strong and efficient team because we learned more about each other and got past the shyness phase. As the tour progressed, we each specialized in our strengths and communicated effectively with each other. Bonds with co-workers are important in optimizing your experience on the job.
After speaking to my co-op supervisors (Kristina and Jocelyn), and discussing my co-op experience with the co-op coordinator (Marcia), I realized that working in a public relations industry helped me figure out which part of communication I wanted to get into. From speaking to Kristina, Jocelyn, and Shivani on our car rides or during dinner, I realized the reason why I wanted to get into public relations is because I have been involved with large-scale events like the Winter Festivals, Richmond Ozone, and the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Oval. I enjoy being a part of events because it brings a community together. I also like the idea that in public relations, you do use the same skills on a day-to-day basis and you generally work Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 5pm, but each work day is never the same. Some days may be spent liaising with clients, venue locations, or co-workers, while other days may involve being at a venue and planning out the event. I have also learned about the other specializations within the public relations industry, like media relations and crisis communication. Every aspect of public relations interests me and the sporadic layout of the industry will always keep me alert and thinking.
My exposure to the public relations industry has indeed confirmed which path of communication I would like to specialize in. Having received feedback from my co-op supervisors, Kristina and Jocelyn, I will take their advice and work on the areas that need improvement and also work on my strengths to enhance my talents. For future co-op terms, I would like to gain more experience in the public relations industry and receive training on social media optimization, writing news releases, and matter regarding crisis communication. I will accomplish this by researching public relation opportunities within Vancouver and establishing connections with people in the industry. I also plan on getting more involved and developing more public relations-related skills by attending workshops and volunteering. Co-op has motivated me to do what it takes to be a more qualified applicant for public relation positions in the near future.
My advice for other co-op students is that it is important to be positive and keep an open mind. Before my work term, I thought that I would gravitate towards the journalism aspect of communication. I tried the tour staff position anyway because I enjoy interacting with people. It turns out that my exposure to the industry made me love it. Public relations encompasses my passion for interacting with the public, my strength in writing, and my need to learn and develop more skills. You cannot assume you will not like a job unless you have tried it. It is important to explore different career options while you still can because in the real world outside of university, you cannot just switch careers with a snap of a finger.
Completing one co-op term has already made me feel confident that I have the skills that I will need after graduation. Co-op reassured me that I am indeed on the right track to my “dream job,” that I will in fact like my job, and that I will not graduate feeling unsure about what to do next. Once I complete my undergraduate degree, I will know exactly where to start applying. Catching a glimpse of what I will be doing two years from now is now another one of my motivations to do well in school. I am excited for another co-op term and another chance to get more exposure to public relations.
I would like to give special thanks to:
This is the last week of our tour before we head home on Saturday! I had another TV interview on Tuesday with CFTK TV of Astral Media. I feel like I improved from the last one because I gained more confidence. We’ve had more memorable team stories this week. Firstly, we went up to Hudson Bay Mountain after our fair setup. Richard and Adam bought crazy carpets from Canadian Tire for $3 and slid down the mountain on them. I got one last time to snowboard before the trip is over and Shivani enjoyed going down the mountain on a sled. The mountain had large dumps of snow and it wasn’t as busy as the resorts that I had been used to. The following day, the team went out for dinner. A man sitting next to us had overheard our conversations and mistook Adam as my dad. It was a hilarious moment, but it sure does explain why we are so alike!
On our drive to Prince Rupert, we passed by Hazelton, which is the furthest North we will go for the entire trip. We only passed by, but I was happy to see the place because one of my floor mates from last year is from there. Prince Rupert is the furthest Northwest we will go and the final stop in our tour before we head back to the Lower Mainland. I can’t wait to come home!
Quesnel is a beautiful city. It was sunny every single day that we were there. I took advantage of the nice weather by walking on a trail along Fraser River and taking the footbridge to cross the River. It was a beautiful view. Quesnel had a Mr. Mike’s restaurant, which I learned was a chain that actually originated in Coquitlam. They had great food and dessert. This restaurant reminded me of the big city because it had the same ambiance that Earl’s or Cactus Club has.
We also spent part of the week in Prince George. This city reminded me a lot of home because I have five friends in residence that are from here. On the first day, I wasn’t sure what to do in the city so I decided to drive down to check out my friend’s high school and scope out the city. I eventually reached the University of Northern British Columbia. The campus is situated on a hill, much like SFU, and the view is spectacular. The campus also looked gorgeous and fairly new. Later on in the day, I came across the Visitor’s Center. The gentleman, Terry, was very helpful and advised me to see some of the popular tourist attractions. I learned that 2015 is a big year for the city because it is Prince George’s 100th birthday, but it is also the year that they are hosting the Canadian Winter Games. I will strongly consider coming back there that year!