Author Archives: Diane Bégin, APR

About Diane Bégin, APR

Account Director APEX Public Relations Inc.

Are there gripes about your company?


Dave Carroll @DaveCarroll (Canadian musician in band Sons of Maxwell who wrote “United Breaks Guitars”) launched a new customer service complaint site since he spoke at the CPRS National 2011 conference in St. John, New Brunswick.

The site called @realgripevine was featured in Techvibes last week.

Is your company one of those getting complaints? Are your clients?

Here are a few things you should do to learn more:

And checkout the success stories too!

Advice for APR candidates: Think critically


The night of Thursday, October 21, 2010 I couldn’t sleep. It was the night before my Accreditation in Public Relations exam. The national exam is Friday, October 19 this year. Last week I participated on the prep call for candidates on the oral portion of the exam.

If there’s only one piece of advice you remember, it should be this:

Don’t just say what you think they want to hear. Just like in your job, think critically.

The most annoying thing in any workplace is when people won’t do something in a new way because that’s not the way things have been done in the past.

The most refreshing thing anyone can hear in a workplace is, “we’re not going to do it that way and here’s why… [backed up by evidence for the new approach].”

The reason why I couldn’t sleep the night before the exam was not because I hadn’t studied. My life was consumed with studying from late summer until that night.

It was because I disagreed with the way we are taught as practitioners to apply the RACE formula (research, analysis, communication, evaluation).

I’ve written lots about the evolution of RACE. The short version is that all the same elements are there, they just can’t be applied in a linear process the way we’re taught. In practice it’s more like a constant state of being rather than a formula.

I knew the examiners would bring up the application of the RACE formula as part of the negative feedback on my case study, which was a social media campaign we’d done from 2009.

That night, I decided that I didn’t care if I failed, I couldn’t live with myself without challenging the 50-year-old formula (John Marston wrote about RACE in his 1963 book The Nature of Public Relations).

I armed myself with what I knew from my experience and one blog post that I found that someone else had written. That’s it.

The thing is you’ve only made it this far in the process because of what you’ve experienced through your work. So have confidence in that.

Needless to say, I didn’t fail. I find it most reassuring in the accreditation process that the examiners value original thought and the ability of candidates to challenge things in our constantly evolving work environments.

If you miss the webinar, it will be posted on the CPRS National website. Originally posted at  

Archived presentation: Adrienne Batra, Comments Editor, Toronto Sun and former Press Secretary to Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford (45:30)


The CPRS Toronto Annual General Meeting featured Adrienne Batra @AdrienneBatra, Comments Editor, Toronto Sun and former Press Secretary to Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford speaking about crisis communications and reputation management on May 29, 2012 at the Metropolitan Hotel. Press play beneath the slides to hear the audio.

The screen can be enlarged in the bottom right corner.

Archived presentation: Toronto Hydro – Building a brand (42:28)


Karen Evans @KarenEvans51, Manager, Communications & Public Affairs and Gillian Earle @GillianEarle, Advisor, Communications & Public Affairs at Toronto Hydro presented on their award winning Light the Night campaign on May 24, 2012 at OISE at the University of Toronto. Press play beneath the slides to hear the audio.

The screen can be enlarged in the bottom right corner.

CPRS advocates for post-secondary PR education


Provided by @CPRSNational

Many members and student members of local CPRS Societies across the country are the graduates of almost 50 public relations (PR) and communications management (CM) programs in Canada. Practitioners are earning public relations diplomas, certificates, degrees and masters of communication across the country. With the number of programs and graduates increasing in Canada, CPRS has taken an important step towards being more involved in post-secondary public relations education.

For three years the CPRS National Council on Education, academic and professional public relations community have worked together to develop Pathways to the Profession™: An Outcomes Based Approach Towards Excellence in Canadian Public Relations and Communications Management Education.

As an advocate for the PR industry, CPRS acknowledges that the profession has an interest in how future practitioners are taught. With the development of the Pathways program, there is an opportunity to strengthen the partnership between industry, the academic community and graduates. The Pathways takes a modern, forward-looking approach to PR education, focusing on what students will contribute to the workforce upon graduation.

Pathways to the Profession™ also provides post-secondary institutions an opportunity to become formally recognized by CPRS for a period of five years. Academic institutions considering developing a PR or CM program will be able to create their curriculum with the Pathways guidelines as a tool to ensure that their programs produce highly skilled public relations practitioners.

Pathways to the Profession™ offers an educational framework for public relations programs which Canadian post-secondary institutions can follow,” said Colleen Killingsworth MCM, APR, FCPRS, Presiding Officer, National Council on Education. “For years we’ve heard about the importance of having a standard approach to educating up-and-coming public relations professionals. It’s a great feeling to finally have a document in place to help facilitate this.”

The Pathways’ aim is to balance the similarities of programs across Canada with the unique elements that each educational institution offers. Whether students are looking to get into the industry at a junior level or if professionals are interested in pursuing public relations at the scholarly level, there’s a pathway available to reach those goals. Pathways to the Profession™ is broken down into five different pathways: technical, career, management, leadership and scholar. For more information on all five pathways, please visit Pathways to the Profession™.

“This is an incredibly important step for public relations education in Canada,” said Amy Thurlow APR, PhD, Chair, Department of Communication Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax, N.S. “We recognize that this commitment by the profession of public relations and communications management to academia will not only benefit students and employers, but also the profession as a whole.”

By developing Pathways to the Profession™, the Canadian Public Relations Society has positioned itself as the leading advocate for public relations and communication management education in Canada.

Khadija Lee: Brock University’s 2012 Lou Cahill Scholarship Winner


This news release is posted on behalf of the Communications + Public Relations Foundation

Toronto, May 16, 2012 – Khadija Lee, Kitchener, is the 2012 winner of the Lou Cahill Scholarship in Communications awarded by Brock University, St. Catharines. The Scholarship is awarded to a communications student in the final year of study for academic excellence, community involvement and participation in charitable activities.

The Scholarship was established to honour Lou Cahill, the founder of Enterprise Canada, the country’s longest-operating public relations firm. An icon of the Canadian public relations industry, Lou Cahill died in November 2008 at the age of 94. He held an honorary doctoral degree from Brock.

“We are delighted that Khadija has received the Lou Cahill Scholarship in Communications,” said Barbara Fox, Enterprise Canada President and Chief Executive Officer. “Lou Cahill would have been proud of her community involvement and commitment to charitable service.”

According to Jennifer Good, Associate Professor, Communication, Popular Culture and Film at Brock, “Khadija looked for everything she could possibly get from her education experience and gave so much to the rest of us in the process.”

Lee has been a communication assistant for Traverse Independence in Kitchener, Ont., where she assisted a client with an acquired brain injury with speech and communication skills by creating social environments to promote interactivity, dialogue and speech. In addition, she has provided graphic design to the Canadian Mental Health Association of Kitchener, by developing posters using semiotics to offer empowering images, graphics and texts, and has been a volunteer leader in the execution of an anti-violence campaign for youth, by raising awareness about the detrimental effects of violence. She has also been a media intern with the Predators of the Canadian Junior Football League where she was involved in promoting home games, developing inaugural programs,
photography and co-ordinating media relations.

“Khadija’s passion for improving relationships among young people and her commitment to living and modeling a life of justice are remarkable,” said Dennis Gingrich, Head of Guidance, Resurrection Catholic Secondary School, Kitchener. “She is a visionary and talented young woman who will change the world around her.”

In addition to the Lou Cahill Scholarship, Lee received the Louris De Costa Scholarship for her academic and volunteer achievements and was honoured by a letter of appreciation from former MPP Elizabeth Witmer for her outstanding volunteering in the Kitchener-Waterloo community.

The Lou Cahill Scholarship is managed by the Communications + Public Relations Foundation. The Foundation promotes the advancement of communications and public relations as vital functions in society, is
dedicated to the public interest, and is committed to increasing public knowledge and awareness of the role of communications and public relations in daily life. The Foundation accepts individual and corporate contributions towards research and educational initiatives nationwide.

Applications for the annual Lou Cahill Scholarship in Communications, valued at $1,250 for eligible graduating students from the Department of Communications, Popular Culture and Film at Brock University are available from the University’s Student Awards and Financial Aid Office. Scholarship winners have an opportunity to participate in a four-month internship with Enterprise Canada following graduation.

For more information about the Foundation and its public relations educational initiatives, contact Barbara Sheffield, Executive Director, Communications + Public Relations Foundation, Suite 1515, 73 Widdicombe Hill Blvd., Toronto, Ontario, M9R 4B3, or phone 416 242-6146 or e-mail



Jeffrey Sinibaldi
Brock University
(905) 688-5550 x4687

Barbara Sheffield, APR, FCPRS
Communications + Public Relations Foundation
(416) 242-6146

For more information about the Scholarship, please visit

Canada participates in first Global Congress for Muslim PR Practitioners


As chair of the Global Alliance (GA) for Public Relations Dan Tisch, APR, FCPRS (@dantisch) recounts an experience that he describes as a career highlight – “the unique privilege to be one of the few non-Muslims be part of the dialogue and offer perspectives, to listen and learn” at the first Global Congress for Muslim Public Relations Practitioners. (Read more about the GA in a previous post.)

Dan admits the congress was not what he expected, but he’s not really sure what he expected.

A former member of GA board from Malaysia invited Dan to participate in the event held in Kuala Lumpur in December 2011, which was largely attended by moderate Muslims deeply concerned about the gulf that has grown between the Muslim and non-Muslim worlds.

“The one interesting conclusion that a lot of people seemed to come to was that the Muslim public relations community itself needs to become larger, more robust, more vital, more professionalized,” says Dan. “There are already many outstanding Muslim public relations professionals in the world, but the focus needs to be on young professionals.”

The focus of the congress was not a matter of pointing fingers, but rather pointing the way to solutions.

Themes of unity and diversity in public relations resonated with parallels to unity and diversity in the Muslim world represented by different countries, political regimes and cultures.

In addition to Dan’s involvement from Canada, countries represented included Iran, Sudan, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia among others.

A congress speaker who stood out in Dan’s mind was the former Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“He stood out for me in part because he was a person of great status from Malaysia and but he also took the time to participate in the “rebranding of Islam in the world,”” says Dan. “He was really focused on the connections between age old elements of Muslim principles [with an analogy to] public relations. He talked about justice [and] he talked about accountability.”

In terms of justice he touched on ethics, telling the truth and counseling clients to do things for the good and just of society. While in terms of accountability, he discussed reporting with clarity and transparency by engaging stakeholders and governments.

Dan recalls another speaker defining the concept of shura – building of consensus.

“What could be more relevant to public relations? The idea that no decision by an authority has legitimacy unless implicit in it is the consent of those who are governed by it,” says Dan who adds that the idea is weakened without consent.

For Dan’s own presentation, he focused on unity and co-creation.

Dan described unity can be achieved through conquest (one wins, the other disappears) or compromise (coming to an uneasy coexistence).

By building a little more on the idea of unity, he added the idea of co-creation that brings together a diverse set of players to the table with nothing but the motivation to create something new.

“Personally, I have considerable sadness at some of the attitudes that have developed about Islam in the west in the last ten years,” says Dan. “For me it was partially thinking and learning about and wanting to go there to better understand how we in civil society, who aren’t part of government, can help bridge that divide because we can’t leave it to government alone.”

One such initiative that Dan mentioned was the Islamic community center planned to be built two blocks away from the Ground-Zero in Manhattan. While the initiative led by another speaker at the congress – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative – gained international attention, Dan remembers being outraged at those who were outraged at the plan. For him, it was an opportunity for dialogue and to build a bridge for diversity.

“The larger and more powerful the industry can become in the Muslim world, the greater the odds that the voice of moderate Islam will become the dominant one in the world when we think about that faith,” adds Dan.

When asked what fellow CPRS members can do to build upon the work of the congress, Dan offered, “we need more people who are developing broader expertise and deeper expertise in all dimensions of communications, who are thinking critically of the role of communication in society, educating themselves, reading perspectives of communicators of other parts of the world because it enriches us in what we do. It also makes the foreign less foreign.”

Read more about Dan’s experience at the Global Congress for Muslim Public Relations Practitioners in the Argyle Communications blog