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How to write better branded content

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Written by Diane Begin, CPRS Toronto Co-president

“I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that he or she would be wise to develop a thick hide.” Harper Lee

Articles are a powerful tool in public relations for creating user-specific content, encouraging buzz and helping to manage the message.

That’s why author and journalist Jane Stokes offered tips at a recent Toronto Canadian Public Relations Society event, to make your branded editorial even stronger.

The approach seeks to match reporter tone through six characteristics:

  1. Cares that readers will trust the information
  2. Cares that readers receive solutions
  3. Remains neutral with the whole conversation; no persuading
  4. Interviews authorities to get opinions
  5. Does not care if audiences take any action
  6. Wants the audience to return

Ultimately, this is accomplished through the acronym Stokes refers to as “T.H.E.”

  • Build TRUST (Is every last word…Impartial? No selling, no cheerleading. Reliable? Sources given. Comfortable? Upbeat, welcoming, not preachy.)
  • Be HELPFUL (Does my wording…Promise solutions? Get straight to the point? Minimal small talk. Make the reader feel satisfied?)
  • Directly ENGAGE (Do all my words…Create a positive/helpful mood? Stimulate thought? Speak directly to the audience? Show empathy? Vary sentence structure, like posing a questions?)

Stokes offered the following headline with T.H.E. at work, to make it stronger.

Before
Top things Canadians love about travel reward programs

After
How to multiply the rewards of travelling

She also offered the following tips for headlines, leads and branding.

HEADLINE TIPS

  • Use the ‘reporter’ voice
  • No unnecessary words
  • Identify the topic exactly
  • Begin your headline with a present-tense verb

LEAD TIPS

  • Don’t repeat the headline
  • Hook the audience
  • Use the ‘reporter’ voice
  • Ask a question
  • Use quick, short sentences
  • No small talk
  • Never begin with boring word “Whether…”

BRANDING TIPS

  • Less is more: 1 brand mention is powerful; 2 exact name mentions are risky; 3 repeats of the brand name are a waste of time (a branded URL is also a brand mention)
  • Quoting an authority allows opinion in the article – a natural path to branding. Quotes give articles a credible Two-Voice quality:
    1. The Reporter Voice: Delivers the topic; guides the article
    2. The Authority Voice: Gives tips (quoted, or tip-list) based on expertise; delivers the branded information

Where are they now?

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Featuring Erika Manassis, Seneca College Student Representative, CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee

What did you enjoy most about being on the SSC?

Being on the SSC gave me the opportunity to not only attend student events throughout the year, but to help plan them. I enjoyed acting as liaison between my peers at Seneca College, and my fellow committee members, because it meant I could help make sure that the interests of my classmates were reflected in our SSC events. This made occasions like Passport to PR, and PR 360 much more relatable and applicable to students. It felt great to have a hand in that experience!

As a member of the SSC I was also introduced to non-student members of CPRS Toronto, many of whom I keep in touch with today. The opportunity to mingle with and learn from professionals in the field was invaluable to me as a student trying to find my place in this industry.

And of course – I’ll always be grateful for having met my fellow SSC members through this committee! Though we came from different personal and professional backgrounds, and now work in various fields, it’s nice to know that I have a support system of 15 amazing individuals close by!

Where do you work now, and what do you do?

In April 2016 I joined the team at Cohn & Wolfe Toronto as an Intern. In mid-July I took on the position of an Account Coordinator.

As an Account Coordinator I have a wide variety of responsibilities. From media monitoring, to developing coverage reports, to communicating with bloggers, to pitching stories to media outlets across the country. Every day is different. Most of the portfolios I work on are consumer products, which allows our team to have a lot of fun with story angles, creative pitch notes and media events.

One aspect of my job that I most enjoy is developing relationships with Canadian journalists.  It can be difficult to get to know journalists over email, so I continue to attend CPRS Toronto events each month, where the focus is often on how to communicate with members of the media. At work, I develop these relationships by making phone calls instead of emails to journalists when possible, and doing my best to know what a journalist typically looks for in a story idea.

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

Volunteering with CPRS gave me “real world” PR experience while I was still a student. Continuing to volunteer now that I work at a PR agency offers many opportunities to continue to learn from industry colleagues, and experts in the field. Since joining CPRS Toronto as a student member in September 2015, it has been nothing but a beneficial personal and professional experience!

LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/erikamanassis

How First-Year PR Students Can Stand Out: Lessons from Michelle McTeague, Publicity Manager at Shaw Media

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As the first year of my public relations program comes to an end, I now understand the importance of securing an internship in the field. An internship in PR allows you to hit the ground running, get hands-on experience and really get a feel for the industry.

That’s why it’s important that, as first years, we bring our “A” game to interviews and always leave a great impression on potential employers. Though graduation is still three years away, it’s never too early to start preparing for internship opportunities.

Michelle McTeague, Publicity Manager at Shaw Media, offered us her advice at this stage in our professional careers, speaking from experience and her in-depth knowledge of the industry. After graduating from Durham College with an Advanced Diploma in Public Relations, Michelle accepted a publicity internship at Bell Media. She went on to hold positions at TIFF, Dancap Productions Inc., and FLIP Publicity & Promotions Inc. Today, as a publicity manager, her portfolio includes Food Network Canada, Showcase, Slice, and Lifetime.

Here is Michelle’s expert advice on how first-year PR students can prepare for their internships, and really stand out from the competition.

What can a student do to make their resume stand out?

It has to be attention grabbing, great format, unique and uses keywords. Your resume also has to be error-free, make sure to always spellcheck. It has to be as detailed as possible and very strategic.

What are the key documents/materials to have in your portfolio?

A cover letter that is tailored to the specific job position, key writing samples, mock releases, event flow, and mock event. A range of your writing shows the employer your thought process, how you were being strategic and how you leverage different social media platforms and other tools.

Many first-year PR students may not feel the need to think about their internships right now. Why is it important to start preparing for your internship in the beginning of your program?

Preparing now gives you a sense of where you want to start. Networking and keeping in contact with the employer is also very important since it could be where you first officially begin working in PR. Also, be passionate about what you want, it will show in your work.

Are there any specific extra-curricular activities that employers look for on a resume that first-year PR students should be involved in now?

Employers look at any extracurricular activities that enable you to showcase some of your skills. However, make sure you identify and draw out what is relevant to the job. Also, include what sets you apart from the competition. Personal development should never stop.

Can you outline the expectations vs. reality when it comes to internships?

Don’t have too many expectations. Go into any opportunity with the mindset that you are a sponge, you want to learn and absorb as much as possible. Instead of expectations have a set of objectives. For example, “By the time I finish my internship at Google, I want to know how to write an effective press release.”

Are there any skills you think we should focus on now to prepare for internships?

Time management, prioritization, organizational skills and communication skills are very important skills to hone and to have. When it comes to prioritizing, if you’re not sure what’s most important to complete, or how to prioritize a long list of tasks, never hesitate to ask your employer or professors for advice.

What precautions should first-years have online when entering this industry?

Think before you do anything!

How can first-year PR students build or improve their social media presence or personal brand?

Share your interests, and think of how you can be your own publicist. You could also showcase your favourite brands in positive ways (like in a blog post!).

What sector would be the most beneficial for a first-time intern? Agency, in-house, corporate…?

A great place for first-year PR students to start, especially when you’re young, is agency. Be prepared to give your all! Finding the right placement can be rewarding professionally. If you’re not sure where you want to work, base the decision on your heart-of-hearts and the products you want to promote. Try everything to find out what you want. Also, remember doors never close!

Written by: Tomiko Stanton is a first-year student at Humber College, in the Bachelor of Public Relations program.

2016 CPRS ACE Award PR Campaign of the Year: Edelman for Ontario Association of Optometrists

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2016 CPRS ACE Award Creative Campaign of the Year: Narrative PR for Scotiabank

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2016 CPRS ACE Award Best in Show Contender: APEX PR for Polysporin

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2016 CPRS ACE Award Best in Show Contender: Narrative PR for Bacardi

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2016 CPRS ACE Award Best in Show Contender: APEX PR for Walmart Canada

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2016 CPRS ACE Award Best in Show Contender: Veritas for Stella Artois

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Banking and Optometry Come out on Top at the 2016 CPRS Toronto ACE Gala

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CPRS Toronto Recognizes Award-Winning PR Campaigns

TORONTO, May 5, 2016 /CNW/ – The Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) in Toronto hosted the Achieving Communications Excellence (ACE) Awards Gala and recognized award-winning public relations campaigns from across the Greater Toronto Area. More than 360 professionals attended the event at the Arcadian Court to celebrate their campaigns, showcase client work, and support their colleagues.

“The industry continues to evolve in many ways and the work presented this evening reflects that evolution and dedication behind the public relations profession,” said Diane Bégin, Co-President, CPRS Toronto. Jeff Rohrer, Co-President, CPRS Toronto added, “There is an immense amount of talent found within the Toronto community of public relations professionals and it is wonderful to have the opportunity to be a part of a ceremony that recognizes that.”

The Best in Show awards two outstanding campaigns with creative approaches to meeting the clients’ business and brand needs. Narrative PR received the Best Creative Campaign of the Year for their work with Scotiabank and its SCENE Fall campaign targeting millenials during Frosh Week, combining experiential and creative marketing. The Public Relations Campaign of the Year Award went to Edelman Toronto for its informative and engaging 20-second Daydreams campaign, which brings awareness to computer vision syndrome for the Ontario Association of Optometrists.

“We introduced a new category this year called Marketing Communications Campaign of the Year in response to the shift underway in our industry. The long list of winners in this category is proof of how far we’ve come,” said Carolyn Merchant, ACE Awards Chair, CPRS Toronto. “It is a pleasure to once again lead a team of committed volunteers and judges dedicated to the advancement of the communications profession.”

The 2016 ACE Award recipients include:

Best PR Campaign of the Year

  • Edelman Canada – Ontario Association of Optometrists 20-Second Daydreams

Best Creative Campaign of the Year Award

  • Narrative PR – Scotiabank SCENE Fall

Leadership Awards

  • Lois Marsh Award: Christina Marshall, APR, Vivant Communications
  • CPRS Toronto PR Professional of the Year Award: Lauren Dineen-Duarte, American Express Canada
  • Volunteer of the Year: Terrence Freeman, Humber College
  • CPRS Toronto Public Relations Student of the Year: Charzie Abendanio, Humber College

Investor / Financial Relations Campaign of the Year

Bronze

  • Kaiser Lachance Communications – PUDO Lists on the CSE

Crisis or Issues Management Campaign of the Year

Silver

  • De Beers Group of Companies – Closure of Snap Lake Mine

Community Relations Campaign of the Year

Silver

  • Kaiser Lachance Communications – Sears Canada Milestone Celebrations Program

Bronze

  • Edelman Canada – Canadian Women’s Foundation Get Consent Campaign
  • Veritas Communications – Microsoft Code Generation
  • Weber Shandwick – Ronald McDonald House Charities

Government Relations / Public Affairs Campaign of the Year

Gold

  • Counsel Public Affairs – Ontario Real Estate Association

Bronze

  • Sussex Strategy Group – Dairy Farmers of Canada “Canadian Milk Matters”

New Product or Service Launch Campaign of the Year

Silver

  • MAVERICK Public Relations – Amope PediPark
  • Weber Shandwick – WOW Air Canadian Launch Announcement
  • Weber Shandwick – McDonald’s Canada Restaurant of the Future Launch

Bronze

  • Weber Shandwick – McCafe Standalone Launch
  • Narrative PR – The Journey Begins Here: Scotiabank GM VISA Launch

Brand Development Campaign of the Year

Gold

  • Edelman Canada – KD Rebrand
  • DDB Public Relations – CIL Beauty on a Small Budget

Silver

  • PRAXIS – Quaker Canada “The Recital”
  • Weber Shandwick – McDonald’s Canada Restaurant of the Future Launch

Bronze

  • Weber Shandwick – McCafe Standalone Launch
  • Edelman – Go RVing Canada #BringBackWildhood”
  • North Strategic – AIR MILES “Brand Rejuvenation”

Best Use of Special Events

Gold

  • Narrative PR – BACARDI PALADAR
  • North Strategic – Airbnb “Stay At Air Canada Centre”
  • Veritas Communications – Stella Artois’ Sensorium
  • Weber Shandwick Canada – McFlurry 20th Anniversary

Silver

  • Media Profile – Google Canada “Youtube FanFest”

Bronze

  • Canadian Tire – “Canadian Tire presents Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame 2015”
  • Hill+Knowlton Strategies – Maytag Ultimate Laundry Room, 2015 Pan Am Games Sponsorship
  • FleishmanHillard – Temptations “Just for Cats”

Best Use of Media Relations Under $50,000

Silver

  • Paradigm Public Relations – Kid Poker Documentary Debut
  • Weber Shandwick – WOW Air Canadian Launch Announcement
  • High Road – American Express Canada “Entertainment on Cloud 10”
  • Kwittken Canada – Re-introducing The Keg to Canadians
  • FleishmanHillard – Concord Adex “Nineteen Century Schooner Discovery”

Bronze

  • Porter Novelli Canada – Kids Help Phone’s BroTalk launch
  • Strategic Objectives – MEGA BLOKS “Building Kids Up Through Play”
  • MSLGROUP – RandStad Workmonitor: from thought leader to game changer
  • Narrative PR – NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto
  • Argyle Public Relationships – Beating the ‘Cancer Blues’ on World Cancer Day
  • Kaiser Lachance Communications – Sears Canada Holiday Media Relations

Best Use of Media Relations Over $50,000

Gold

  • APEX Public Relations – Get Ready for Back-to-School with Walmart Canada

Silver

  • Argyle Public Relationships – Sugary September: Diabetes and the Canadian Election
  • Hill+Knowlton Strategies – FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola
  • Paradigm Public Relations – Add A Little Joy with Nutella: 2015 Truck Tour
  • Edelman Canada – Canadian Women’s Foundation Get Consent Campaign
  • Strategic Objectives – Kellogg’s Breakfasts for Better Days
  • APEX Public Relations – Discover Another Side of Walmart Canada
  • Strategic Objectives – #YouAreWelcome from MNCFN: The Official Host First Nation of TO2015
  • APEX Public Relations – Nestle Canada launch of the new SMARTIES packaging
  • MSLGROUP Canada – P&G Always #LikeAGirl: Turning an insult into a confidence

Bronze

  • Weber Shandwick Canada – PetSmart Charities of Canada National Adoption Weekends 2015”
  • Edelman Canada – Baking with Becel ® and Demystifying Margarine News Bureau
  • Kaiser Lachance Communications – Royal LePage “Thought Leadership in Canadian Real Estate”
  • North Strategic – Cadillac Fairview National Black Friday 2015 Campaign
  • FleishmanHillard – MARS Pet Mixed Feeding
  • Woods Canada – Ultimate Dream Job
  • Strategic Objectives – Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats for Toys Holiday Program
  • Edelman Canada – KD Rebrand
  • MSLGROUP Canada – Indigo Holiday 2015
  • Citizen Relations and Loblaw Companies Ltd. – President’s Choice® Insiders Collection™ Holiday Boutique

Best Digital Communications Campaign of the Year

Gold

  • APEX Public Relations – POLYSPORIN®: Targeting the Quebec Market on Facebook

Silver

  • Strategic Objectives – Second Cup Coffee Co. Hot Chocolate: #TasteItRateIt
  • High Road – Canadian Labour Congress “Better Choice”
  • Paradigm Public Relations – Edgewell Personal Care “Be Carefree. Everyday”
  • MSLGROUP Canada – P&G Always #LikeAGirl: Turning an insult into a confidence
  • Cohn & Wolfe – Coleman Canada “Get Outside Day”
  • MSLGROUP Canada – P&G’s “Pantene #ShineStrong Tag Challenge

Bronze

  • Edelman Canada – Canadian Women’s Foundation Get Consent campaign
  • Veritas Communications – Kimberly-Clark “Buckle Up, Creampuff”
  • Sussex Strategy Group – Dairy Farmers of Canada TPP Campaign

Marketing Communications Campaign of the Year

Gold

  • Edelman Canada – Ontario Association of Optometrists 20-Second Daydreams
  • APEX Public Relations – Get Ready for Back-to-School with Walmart Canada
  • Narrative PR – Scotiabank SCENE Fall
  • APEX Public Relations – Discover Another Side of Walmart Canada”\

Silver

  • Edelman Canada – Intuit Canada “Know Your Worth”
  • FleishmanHillard – Uncle Ben’s for “Ben’s Beginners”
  • Media Profile – “Starbucks Canada Sparkle Shop”
  • Toronto Public Health – “The Truth about Smoking Hookah”
  • Government of Ontario – Public Education Campaign to Prevent Sexual Violence and Harassment”
  • Paradigm Public Relations – Add A Little Joy With Nutella: 2015 Truck Tour
  • Weber Shandwick – McCafe Standalone Launch
  • Woods Canada – “Ultimate Dream Job”
  • Media Profile – Cancer Care Ontario “My CancerIQ Online Risk Assessment Tool”
  • Weber Shandwick – McDonald’s Canada Restaurant of the Future Launch
  • PRAXIS – Quaker Canada’s “The Recital”

Bronze

  • Narrative PR – Bayer “Break up and move”
  • Veritas Communications – Microsoft Canada for “Microsoft Surface Studio”
  • Engagers – Bay of Quinte: Isn’t It time
  • Cohn & Wolfe – Coleman Canada “Get Outside Day”
  • Paradigm Public Relations – Tim Hortons Warm Wishes

Student Public Relations Communications Plan of the Year

Bronze

  • Centennial College – Civic Action “Up All Night”
  • Centennial College – Civic Action/Project Fusion “Know the Signs”

The Canadian Public Relations Society is a national professional organization focused on establishing and upholding educational and ethical standards in Public Relations. CPRS Toronto is one of the largest local societies with nearly 600 members. For more information, please visit: http://www.cprstoronto.com.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

CNW, the ACE Awards title sponsor

Business Wire

CNW Creative

ConsumerVision

Fifth Story

Freeman Audio Visual Canada

Leger Marketing

MarketWired

McMaster University

The Canadian Press

Edelman

The Edelman Team with their PR Campaign of the Year Award for Ontario Association of Optometrists: 20-Second Daydreams

Narrative

The Narrative PR Team with their Creative Campaign of the Year Award for Scotiabank SCENE Fall

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For further information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Charzie Abendanio
Lead, ACE Marketing/Communications
CPRS Toronto ACE Awards Committee
ace@cprstoronto.com