Author Archives: Erica Silver, MA, APR

About Erica Silver, MA, APR

Director, National Media Relations and Corporate Communications Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc.

National Volunteer Week – April 23-29, 2017


Next week is National Volunteer Week, and we want to acknowledge our enthusiastic and skilled volunteers who together, help us accomplish our objectives and grow our community.  As a non-profit professional society, CPRS Toronto appreciates the donation of time and effort from our Board of Directors and volunteers, who help to enhance our knowledge, skill and competence and advance the professional stature of public relations.

As members of CPRS, we are committed to striving for the betterment of the ethics, standards and principles that govern our society.  Our volunteers are encouraged to grow, learn and seek fulfillment as they help our organization accomplish our goals.

We thank you for your dedication, continued energy, passion and insight which make our community and organization stronger.

For future volunteer opportunities, please visit the CPRS Toronto website and fill in this survey.

Building Media Relations: A Post-Event Recap


inBy Maxim Naylor

On Wednesday, February 22nd on the upper deck of Cumberland Street’s iconic Pilot Tavern, the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee hosted one of its annual events, Building Media Relations (BMR).

BMR brings together a panel of local media and PR pros to answer questions on creating and sustaining relationships with the press.

On the PR side of the panel, BMR featured Cole Douglas of APEX Public Relations, Jennifer McCarthy of Cohn & Wolfe, and Stuart Green of the TTC. On the media side were Hilary Hagerman of Yahoo Style, Steven Banks of ET Canada, & Rahul Gupta of Metroland Media, a panel full of character, knowledge, and an exchange of much industry humour.

Laurie Smith, VP Strategic Communications, Media and Audience Relations at CNW moderated the discussion. Although a difficult task keeping communications experts on one topic, Laurie guided the discussion flawlessly and with great wit.

The panel tackled a wide range of topics in the moderated question and answer session including blogger relations, influencer marketing, integrated content and professional communication with press members.

The floor was opened for students in attendance to ask questions, which sparked a great discussion on the changing nature of PR practice, client relationships and the role of press exclusives.

My favourite line of the night: “Know your brand, know who you are and stay true to that” – Steven Banks from ET Canada. Wise words!

The event was well-attended with students across different programs and schools, including Ryerson, Humber, Centennial and Seneca.

After the formal event had wrapped up, there was some time for networking. Students stayed, connecting with each other, as well as the panelists.

The event was a huge success from start to finish. We can’t wait for next year!

For those who attended, what was your favourite moment?

Maxim Naylor is a 1st year student in Humber College’s Bachelor of Public Relations program and student representative of the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee.

Twitter: @maximnaylor

Advice from an ACE Awards Judge


V Power Casual photo SM#CPRSACE

February 24th is fast approaching which means the submission period for this year’s ACE Awards is coming to a close. As a result, Vincent Power has given some insight regarding candidates’ submissions and his approach to judging the ACE Awards. Vincent is currently the Vice-President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications at Sears Canada. He is an APR recipient and this will be his third year as the co-chair on the judging committee for the ACE Awards. For those of you who have not submitted your campaigns, no need to fret, follow the advice below and you may be an ACE Award recipient.


The ACE Awards are a great way for PR professionals to be awarded for the campaigns they have worked so diligently to create. As a judge, Vincent is most looking forward to “learning about great campaigns, how they were planned, executed and implemented. It’s so much fun to see what different applicants experience in their efforts to bring a campaign to full fruition.”


For Vincent, The RACE (research, analysis, communication and evaluation) formula should tell the campaign’s story in a way that highlights all-important factors of the campaign. “Try to evenly spread your story among the four components of RACE, or at least be substantial with each component.” Moreover, since contenders are focused on the four components of the RACE formula it warrants that every submission will be judged on an objective and fair playing field.


Due to the high number of submissions, one of the most challenging aspects of judging is to ensure that all campaigns are given an equal amount of time for review. Therefore, Vincent emphasized the importance for submissions to have a clear and concise executive summary. This will ensure the judges will have a quick and proper grasp of the campaign at hand. “The supporting material is often useful in helping to have a better understanding of the tools described in the executive summary, but the executive summary should be able to stand on its own.”


A great campaign is not only determined by meeting objectives but the way the campaign’s story is being told and analysed. According to Vincent, the analysis and research elements of campaigns are most often overlooked in submissions. He suggests, in order to stand out the most important factor of a submission is to touch on every aspect of the RACE formula. Though structure is very important within a campaign, creativity is an added quality that will ensure your submission stands out, “a winning campaign may not have achieved all its goals, however a sound execution plan that is innovative and creative can still achieve a finalist rating.”


The ACE Awards is a great way to acknowledge the best PR campaigns Toronto has to offer. “What we do recognize is how much hard work goes into successful campaigns, how much public and media reaction plays a role in promoting a brand or program or initiative, and we appreciate the incredible effort that it takes to produce just one submission,” said Vincent, “Good luck to all candidates for 2017!”




Written by Lynn Scherloski, University of Toronto graduate and public relations certificate recipient from the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies.


ACE Award Judging – An Interview With Vincent Power


ACE Award Judging – An Interview With Vincent Power
LinkedInV Power Casual photo SM

What is your approach when judging the ACE Award submissions?

I look to be told a story, a story whose framework is based on the RACE formula (Research, Analysis, Communication and Evaluation). The story may have a preamble (a paragraph or so that serves as an overview of the entire project) but there should be an introduction (research and part of the analysis), there should be a body (part of the analysis and communication plan), and there should be a conclusion (evaluation). The introduction should flow into the body and the body should flow into the conclusion, each part informing and linking to the next part.

What is the greatest tip you can give to all those who will submit their campaign?

Try to evenly spread your story among the four components of RACE, or at least be substantial with each component. The Communication plan and its execution can arguably constitute the largest percentage of the overall story, but the research and analysis portions are often short changed and submissions should ensure that each component is given its due.

Last year’s ACE Awards had shown many amazing PR campaigns, in your opinion what will make a campaign stand out this year?

To even be selected as a winner, a sound Executive Summary based on the RACE formula is the most important contributor to being considered. Once a submission demonstrates that, then innovation and creativity will usually drive one submission higher than the other. Although we like to see submitted campaigns be successful ones, a winning campaign may not have achieved all its goals, however a sound execution plan that is innovative and creative can still achieve a finalist rating.

What would you say would be the biggest challenge when judging this year’s ACE Awards?

In a word, time. Judges may review more than a dozen entries over the course of a day. Because we want to give equal time, effort and attention to those we judge late in the day vs. those we judge earlier, judges look to see everything there is to know about the campaign within the two-page executive summary. No matter how fabulous the support material included may be, it will not help an executive summary that is deficient in effectively communicating the campaign to a judging committee using the RACE formula. That said, the supporting material is often useful in helping to have a better understanding of the tools described in the executive summary, but the executive summary should be able to stand on its own.

In your opinion what makes the ACE Awards unique and why should we encourage PR professionals to submit their campaigns?

The ACE Awards approach success from a professional perspective. The need to address the four components of the RACE formula means that entrants must use senior-level thinking in the development of their submission, and the result is that their entry receives a fairer, objective evaluation which hopefully minimizes subjectivity based on undefined criteria.

What are you looking forward to most when judging this year’s ACE Awards and why?

Judges look forward to learning about great campaigns, how they were planned, executed and implemented. It’s so much fun to see what different applicants experience in their efforts to bring a campaign to full fruition. What we do recognize is how much hard work goes into successful campaigns, how much public and media reaction plays a role in promoting a brand or program or initiative, and we appreciate the incredible effort that it takes to produce just one submission. Good luck to all candidates for 2017!

#CPRSACE: Edelman’s Sarah McEvoy On The Power Of PR


“Imagine this. Picture yourself emerging from a dense jungle. In front of you? El Dorado, the lost city of gold.”

This sounds breathtaking, doesn’t it? This scene does have an end, and it was written by Edelman for their award-winning 20-Second Daydreams campaign.

Edelman and the Ontario Association of Optometrists (OAO) took home the ACE Award for 2016’s PR Campaign of the Year. We tapped Edelman Vice President of Corporate Communications Sarah McEvoy to grab insight into the campaign’s creative process and learn how powerful PR can be.


  1. What inspired the 20-Second Daydreams campaign?

Our research. When we sat down with the OAO, the optometrists told us their patients most commonly ask about how computers affect their eyes. Then we learned about the 20/20/20 rule – look away from your computer every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, 20 feet away. We used this rule to anchor the campaign and educate the public about computer vision syndrome, an issue we know they care about.


  1. What was the biggest challenge the creative team faced while developing an idea to promote computer vision syndrome?

We know online channels are most effective in reaching Ontarians en masse. Ironically, this meant we needed people to use screens to tell people to look away from their screens. The challenge was crafting a compelling idea based on that irony. Instead of simply sharing our information, we used an audio theatre of the mind concept to create a way for them to enjoy it. “Edutainment” if you will.


  1. You launched your campaign and waited for the public to react. What was it like to watch the public respond?

We had speedy results, shares and comments on our five different videos. YouTube and Facebook delivered over 356,000 video views and the OAO’s “Find an Optometrist” locator tool saw clicks increase by 26,000. Seeing these kinds of numbers was gratifying for the team to realize we struck a cord with the public.


  1. The OAO said the 20-Second Daydreams campaign was a success.
    Why submit it to the ACE Awards?

We exceeded our objectives within the first couple months. That’s when we realized we really had an interesting story to tell. The traditional model of PR is evolving, where campaigns are far more integrated, combining research creative, earned, digital, paid and search all as part of the PR offering. Since our work fit perfectly into this evolving world of PR, we wanted to share it with our industry colleagues and beyond.


  1. Do you think it’s important to recognize work in PR?

Absolutely. PR, and by extension, communications marketing, is a powerful tool that can influence positive change. Working with the OAO to bring attention to an issue that affects nearly all Ontarians continues to be fulfilling. After our campaign, the OAO reported that an additional 198,843 optometry services were provided in 2014/2015 compared to 2013/2014. We were so pleased to have our campaign contribute to that increase.


  1. After all of this, do you see yourself taking more trips to the optometrist?

100 per cent. I have three kids at home who all go for comprehensive eye exams and I’m now more passionate than ever about children’s vision. I’m thrilled our campaign sent more people to the optometrist. It’s so rewarding when your work truly makes a difference.


Sarah’s PR Tip: Our research was the foundation for our campaign idea. You cannot underestimate the importance of insights and analytics.

To hear more Edelman voices on the 20-Second Daydreams campaign you can click here.

The CPRS Ace Awards Gala will be held on May 2, 2017.


By: Carolyn LoConte,
Humber College Postgraduate PR student

Rendezvous with Veritas; Winner of the 2016 ACE Award for Best Use of Special Events


Rendezvous with Veritas; Winner of the 2016 ACE Award for Best Use of Special Events

Nina Szirmay-Kalos* is the Group Vice President at Veritas Communications. She is an award-winning media relations guru, PR extraordinaire, dedicated leader and a wise mentor. She is an experienced and highly motivated PR practitioner known for pitching ice to a snowman.

Kaur: Hi. I’m Suneet Kaur, a graduate of Public Relations at Seneca College. I’m talking today about the Award-Winning Sensorium by Stella Artois, a PR campaign planned and executed by Veritas Communications. It’s my pleasure to be speaking with Nina Szirmay-Kalos, Group Vice President of Veritas Communications.

Nina, first things first, what inspired you to launch Sensorium with Stella Artois?

Kalos: We’re always looking for new sources of inspiration. We knew our client wanted to be part of the circuit during TIFF but we needed to find a way to do that which was authentic to the brand and disruptive enough to break through the Festival clutter. Nothing is more authentic to the brand than the Stella Artois’ Chalice, so we used that as a jumping off point. The chalice is specifically designed to engage all senses – so we wondered what an event that did the same could look like. Sensorium was born.

Kaur: Like you mentioned, the campaign was timed around TIFF, and there was a lot of festival clutter. Not only did you break through the clutter, but won honours at the Ace Awards. Why do you think the campaign was such a huge success in the end?

Kalos: I think the campaign attracted so much attention and was a huge success because it was grounded in insight. We knew that our target demographic was more motivated by cool experiences than they were by cool things so we took our product and imagined a way for them to interact with it in a unique way. You need to always consider the needs of your market when building out campaigns and then ultimately deliver against those needs.

Kaur: You have your finger on the pulse with key industry trends. What is the most important aspect in PR campaign strategy design?

Kalos: Insights, insights, insights. You need to start from a smart place to end at an effective one!

Kaur: What was the significance, if any, of social media in your campaign?

Kalos: Social was of huge significance – an answer you’ll get 9 times out of 10 from most PR professionals. Our goal with this campaign was ultimately ticket sales and because of that we wanted to cast a wide media net to spread the word. By the time our media preview rolled around, the event was actually sold out, so the purpose of social went from driving ticket sales, to allowing all those who couldn’t actually attend to experience the event in some way. It also helped to drive interest in Sensorium, which Stella Artois has grown into a global adapt and reapply, largely based on the interest generated in Toronto.

Kaur: How did you pitch media and influencers to cover your event? Any tips for Public Relations students?

Kalos: We used the same insight we had for our consumers. We hosted a media preview before the launch of Sensorium, so media was enticed by also getting to experience this unique event. It was a huge draw given that this was all taking place during TIFF and the demands on media were so high – we really need to give them a reason to take notice of us.

Kaur: Did you have an ACE Award on your mind during the campaign, or was it only after that you thought to submit? Why did you think of submitting to the ACE Awards?

Kalos: Winning awards is wonderful. We love to celebrate great, smart partnerships with our clients – because don’t forget that none of what we do would be possible without engaged and collaborative clients.  But that’s not the basis of our campaigns. We work towards objectives that are clearly defined from the outset which rarely but sometimes includes getting industry recognition – but that’s less about the award itself and more about pushing ourselves to do something truly great and impactful.

Kaur: Do you think it’s important to submit to recognition awards like ACE?

Kalos: I think ACE awards serve a wonderful purpose. They inspire the industry community. It’s fantastic to see what your counterparts are doing and what they’re achieving. It motivates us all to find the next big thing.

Kaur: Why do you think VERITAS won last year?

Kalos: I think we were successful in last year’s awards competition because we had an awesome campaign that we presented to the judges in a clear, concise and illustrative way. Sometimes these awards submissions are difficult because you’re trying to bring to life a campaign that literately took months to conceive and execute through 2-3 written pages. Award submissions really are an art and the team takes them seriously.

Kaur: What advice do you have for those PR campaigns being submitted this year?

Kalos: Make sure your submissions are grounded in insights and that your objectives link to tangible results. You can have an interesting campaign, but if it didn’t move the needle for your client, you’ll have real trouble showing business-minded people why their investment in PR was a valuable spend.


By Suneet Kaur Lamba, Seneca College


*Nina Szirmay-Kalos

Event Recap: Passport to PR


Three valuable tips I learned from Passport to PR

Passport to PR is one of the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee’s most highly anticipated events of the year. Students are given the opportunity to visit three agencies or organizations in the downtown core and learn from their PR teams. The group I led visited an interesting mix of two agencies and an international organization: Strategic Objectives, Coca-Cola and Pilot PMR.

Here are the top three tips I learned from PR pros during the November 2016 edition of the event.


  1. Internship interviews require a lot of preparation.

The team at Strategic Objectives recommended researching as much as you can about any organization you’re interested in working with in the future. Take the time to read about their current and past work, get familiar with their social media accounts and read up on the key players on their team. They also stressed that confidence is very important. You need to know exactly how you want to present yourself and what key messages you want to communicate.


  1. Keep a “roll up your sleeves” attitude at work.

Next on our agenda was Coca Cola. When asked how students can make themselves stand out during internships or volunteer opportunities, both agreed that it was to make sure you have a “roll up your sleeves” attitude at all times. It’s an asset to have a positive attitude and to always be prepared for any job your boss or co-worker hands to you. They emphasized that this crucial characteristic will allow you to challenge yourself and grow as a person.


  1. Get as much experience as you can.

Last but not least, our group visited the offices of Pilot PMR. There we learned the importance of getting as much experience in the PR industry as you possibly can, in order to find out what you do and don’t want for your career. Although most volunteer opportunities are not compensated, they are a great way to earn on-the-job experience when you’re new to the PR industry.


On the whole, Passport to PR was an immensely rewarding experience. The lessons I learned from the PR pros were invaluable and will help me as I strive to become the best PR professional I can be.


The Student Steering Committee’s next edition of Passport to PR will be taking place on Thursday, March 9, 2017. I hope to see you there!


About the author:

Mary Aloia is in her second year of Humber College’s Bachelor of Public Relations program and currently serves as the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee’s Vice President of Internal.

Twitter: @maryaloia

Where are they now?


Featuring Charzie Abendanio, Account Coordinator at APEX Public Relations Inc. and past President of the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee 2015-2016

What did you enjoy most about being on the SSC? 

What I looked forward to the most when being part of the SSC team was the opportunity to meet students from across the GTA during the class talks at the beginning of the school year. I was able to visit classrooms in Seneca, Humber, Centennial, Loyalist and Ryerson.

During the class presentations, I shared my knowledge, advice and passion for the public relations industry, which I continue to do today.

Where do you work now and what do you do? 

Today, I am an account coordinator at APEX PR supporting clients from across the corporate and consumer sectors. However, the journey I took to find myself where I am today was a whirlwind but also an experience I am very grateful for.

I initially interned at several Toronto PR agencies, which included energi PR, Weber Shandwick and Edelman. At the end of last summer I was offered an opportunity by APEX PR to work for the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo on the Recovery Task Force in Fort McMurray, Alberta.

My main responsibility on the Task Force was to support the Public Information Officer and communications department as the community of Wood Buffalo was going through recovery after facing the largest Wildfire in Canadian history.

How do you think CPRS Toronto helped advance your career or get you ready for your current position?

Every relationship I developed throughout my time with the SSC and at my internships was imperative to the opportunities that came my way.

The PR community is small and the connections we make are as important as interviews. My advice for PR students is: treat every interaction you have with a communications professional as an opportunity to learn about them and a chance to help guide your own career path. The opportunities that come from that will be endless and you can find the best position that aligns with your passion and goals.

Twitter: @charziecastillo






As public relations practitioners, we build relationships so we can invoke change – to affect outputs, outcomes and business results.  According to Hon and Grunig (1999)1: Outputs are usually the immediate results of a particular PR program, often in the form of media coverage, awareness and exposure;   Outcomes: measure whether target audience groups actually received, paid attention to, understood and retained the messages; Business results are commonly recognized as effects that make a direct contribution toward the organization’s goals and objectives.

One go-to tactic is media relations – measuring output success with volume, key message placement, share of voice and tonality. What about the results that are not covered by mainstream media – that are targeted to smaller audiences or issues we want to remain out of the headlines?

We want to recognize your hard work in these areas.  Apply for an Ace Award.
•    Employee Engagement / Internal Communications Campaign of the Year
Purpose: Recognizes exemplary employee engagement and/or internal communication programs that improved employee-management relations, strengthened employee communities and/or successfully administered change management.

•    Investor / Financial Relations Campaign of the Year Purpose: Recognizes outstanding communications work targeted toward investors, shareholders and other financial audiences.

•    Crisis or Issues Management Campaign of the Year Purpose: Recognizes effective crisis and/or issues management work through the use of strategic public relations.


President’s Message: 2017 YOU’VE ARRIVED – THANK GOODNESS!


The year of the Fire Rooster is upon us and since it only comes every 60 years, let’s make our mark! Efficient hard work filled with integrity is the key to meeting goals and achieving success this year1.  We are looking forward to another successful year at CPRS Toronto, with an enthusiastic team on the Board of Directors working on some exciting projects.


The 2017 ACE Awards have been announced and the deadline will be here before you know it, so get started and submit your awe-inspiring campaigns and be recognized by your peers.  Want to display your hard work at Illuminate 2017? The Jan. 30 deadline to be part of the 2017 Research program in Kelowna, is a few weeks away.


We will also have a robust calendar of professional development events, so stay tuned for more details in the coming months!



Danielle Kelly, APR

Erica Silver, APR, MA

Co-Presidents, CPRS Toronto