Tag Archives: PR networking events Toronto

How to write better branded content


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.

Top things Canadians love about travel reward programs

How to multiply the rewards of travelling

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


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


  • 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…”


  • 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

Passport to PR’s Shaw Media, Paradigm PR and FleishmanHillard Sessions


Group A visits the Shaw Media, Paradigm PR and FleishmanHillard offices

Battling spring showers and Toronto traffic, we arrived unscathed and (fairly) dry at one of Toronto’s communications hot spots – Bloor Street. We were set to meet and explore three diverse and equally awesome communications and PR organizations: Shaw Media, Paradigm PR and FleishmanHillard.

We heard it all from the Shaw Media crew


First up on the list, Shaw Media. Right from the start the team had our group laughing and well caffeinated. We learned that a day in the life of a Shaw Media communicator is always varied. From organizing media tours for Chopped Canada’s Brad Smith to establishing their talent as subject matter experts to sending Supergirl capes across the country, Shaw Media communicators are constantly on the move. The team also gave some great advice for any PR and communications student looking for their first internship.

“Be resourceful and people will remember you.” – Jacqui, Senior Publicist for Global

“Volunteer inside of your organization to meet new people and expand your professional network.” – April, Publicity Coordinator for Food Network Canada

As for the golden rule of media relations, Greg, Associate Publicist, told students to be “100 per cent reliable, 100 per cent of the time.”

Paradigm PR gives us a glimpse into agency life

Next up on our route, Paradigm PR, a creative consumer PR agency. After introductions and Timbits we saw a number of client case studies. A favourite was definitely the media relations for Toy “R” Us’ ‘Chief Play Officer’ (every child’s dream job).

Johnathon, an intern turned account coordinator, went on to describe the variety of accounts he gets to work on, and the challenges he faced when transitioning from school to work. Anticipating what’s next in agency life can be difficult, as you’re moving top speed (almost) all the time. He credits attention to detail and meeting last minute requests as a sure way to build great relationships inside and outside your agency.

The Paradigm PR team also stressed the importance of company culture fit. Do your research, ask for informational interviews and find out as much as you can about the dynamic, clients and day-to-day rhythm of the agency. When you know the company culture you’ll know if it’s the right place for you to thrive.

Johnathon’s parting words of wisdom, “Be hungry.”


FleishmanHillard introduces us to the diversity of PR

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FleishmanHillard greeted the group with a number of faces from across different practices and various levels. From associate consultant to senior partner, the presentation was full of interesting insight into FleishmanHillard and the communications industry itself. The unanimous decision from the FleishmanHillard team, agency is the right place to “earn your chops”, build your professional network and gain exposure to many different elements of the industry.

We saw sizzle reels from consumer brands such as Uncle Ben’s Beginners, which leveraged influencer Logan Guleff (MasterChef Junior winner) to get more kids in the kitchen. We also learned about their work with Bayer, a healthcare company, for a completely different take on communications. The campaign was creative in building community around “Hemophilia Champions.” Without direct mention of the brand in any of the communications, it was all about relationship building between stakeholders.

One of the best pieces of advice we learned from FleishmanHillard: take a shot; initiative goes a long way.

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Until next year

Passport to PR was an amazing introduction into the very busy lives of PR and communications professionals. The candid conversations, exposures to real client work and bits of wisdoms from so many talented professionals were extremely valuable. If you get the chance to join a CPRS Passport to PR group, don’t hesitate. It’s a learning experience that you cannot find in any classroom at school.

To see more photos of the event and other locations click here: http://on.fb.me/1YRX3Pa 

Written by Sarah Rogers, Centennial (Story Arts Centre) PR Post-Graduate Certificate Program student and representative on the Student Steering Committee



Event post: Building Media Relationships



Authors: Molly Campbell and Natalie D.

On Thursday, Feb. 12 CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee (SSC) welcomed students to the fourth-annual Building Media Relationships event at the Pilot Tavern. A panel of journalists and PR professionals shared insights with attendees. The panel consisted of Jessica Gold, Shaw Media; Robin Smith, H+K Strategies; Heather MacGregor, LCBO; James Bradshaw, The Globe and Mail; Carolyn Jarvis, Global News; Josh Rubin, Toronto Star and Justine Lewkowicz, Newstalk 1010. CNW Group‘s Nadine Tousignant moderated the animated discussion.









The biggest takeaway? “Just be a decent human being,” said Josh Rubin, followed with a laugh from the crowd. Rubin also outlined having a sense of humour, being respectful and valuing the other journalist’s time as being important, which received agreeing nods from the other panelists.

Media relations is taught in PR students’ coursework, but stepping out of the classroom safety net and doing the real thing is daunting. This event gave aspiring students the opportunity to find out what exactly makes news and how to navigate the media landscape.

When asked how newly graduated PR practitioners can avoid “annoying” journalists, every panelist quickly said they didn’t care about experience or age. What matters to them is the story, considering the audience, pitching an interesting angle, timeliness and relevance. The next most important thing is a practitioner’s attitude; being positive, respectful and doing research goes a long way.



Here are some key tips from the pros:

1. Ask the right questions – Begin media relations campaigns by asking your client about the results they want, said Robin Smith.

2. No matter what realm you work in, always follow the news – Heather MacGregor suggests setting up Google Alerts and monitoring Cision.

3. Don’t burn bridges – “You’re only as good as the relationships you’ve built, as well as your last job,” said Jessica Gold. Be willing to apologize for mistakes.

4. Don’t be annoying – Justine Lewkowicz warned sending too many emails can put you in a journalist’s bad books.

5. Know your medium – Know “who you’re pitching and why you’re pitching,” said Carolyn Jarvis. For TV interviews, choose someone who reads well on TV. For radio interviews, choose someone with an enticing voice. For print stories, get the point and avoid overusing adjectives.

6. Be open to collaboration – Getting caught up trying to control every element of a story can “turn a collaboration into an adversarial relationship” said James Bradshaw. Let the journalist develop the story. Sometimes the end result may not be exactly what you had in mind, but often through collaboration an even better story can be told.


Molly outlines some other Dos and Don’ts from the event:

Do make it personal. You stand out from the crowd when a journalists trusts you.

Do meet with journalists outside deadlines to build trust over time.

Don’t use social media as a public forum to criticize journalists.

Don’t take it personally when a reporter doesn’t respond immediately. Media deadlines can vary from every hour to every 30 minutes.

Don’t be a jerk.

Do have phone etiquette. When calling, always ask, “are you busy right now?”


Natalie is a graduate from Seneca College’s Corporate Communications program.

Molly is a student representative on CPRS Toronto’s SSC.

Event post: Work Hard, Play Hard student pub night social



On Wednesday, November 19, CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee held its first-ever pub night social. Work Hard, Play Hard invited students and young professionals from around the GTA to join in on a casual night of networking. Students from Centennial, Humber and Seneca were present, as were some young professionals fresh in their careers.

Everyone had a great time and we look forward to hosting another pub night social in the new year!




A few choice tweets from the night:

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I purchased my CPRS membership… now what?


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You’ve purchased your CPRS Toronto student membership and are ready to take the next steps? Congratulations! You have just made a tangible effort to advance your career in public relations. Joining a professional association has some great benefits, but sometimes it can be difficult figuring out the best way to get started.

  1. Attend as many events as you can

Making an effort to attend events hosted by CPRS Toronto is a great way to get your foot in the door. You will not only hear from industry professionals, but will also have a chance to network with PR professionals and other students.

As a student member, you get priority registration to all student events. This means when tickets first become available you are able to register right away. This year Passport to PR sold out in three hours and even some student members were not able to buy tickets in time so we encourage you to register right away.

Don’t limit yourself to student events only! CPRS Toronto hosts some great professional development events also open to students. The next PD event, Opportunities from the headlines will be held December 2, 2014.

  1. Break out of your shell

When attending events, be sure to speak to people you may not know. Our industry is filled with outgoing individuals who are more than willing to discuss the industry while giving you an opportunity to learn. Professionals who come to events understand your position as a student and know where you are coming from. Other students are likely feeling the same way you are, so don’t hesitate to walk up to someone and introduce yourself! (That includes members on the Student Steering Committee; we’re here for YOU.

  1. Submit content

A new student initiative is our student blog. Every two weeks we have contests for students’ work to be featured. This is a great opportunity to enhance your writing skills, receive feedback and add to your portfolio. (More information to be revealed tomorrow!)

  1. Utilize CPRS Toronto’s resources

Check the job board to see what organizations are looking for in candidates today. Check out the membership directory for industry contacts, and use CPRS Toronto’s library collection at the Toronto Reference Library for more resources.

  1. Volunteer

CPRS Toronto has many opportunities to volunteer. The Student Steering Committee is made up entirely of student volunteers. The ACE Awards, and CEO Award of the Year are also portfolios that look for volunteers each year.

Let us know: What other ways you’ve become involved with the CPRS Toronto society since purchasing your membership?

Event post: Passport to PR (Fall Edition)



CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee kicked this year off with the always popular Passport to PR event. It was our most successful year ever, with over 105 students taking part, tickets selling out in three hours and the event’s hashtag #PassporttoPR trending on Twitter! A big thank you to all of our hosts and student participants in this year’s event. Check out some highlights below:

Group A: APEX Public Relations | Argyle Communications | Rogers Media

Passport to PR proved to be a success again this year as communications students hit the pavement to visit PR offices at some of Toronto’s top organizations. Though this popular event was only offered to lucky students able to secure a spot, the PR lessons learned during the event were shared through social media during the event and at the post-event tweetup.

Students were able to gain some valuable information by learning new media relations techniques from APEX PR, Argyle PR’s new video branding implementation for clients, and the strategy involved in Roger Media’s internal and risk management plans.

Cole Douglas, Vice President External, Student Steering Committee

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Group B: Hill + Knowlton | Shaw Media | Paradigm PR

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It is my third year leading a group for Passport and every year I am so impressed by the quality of information provided by speakers, and by the insightful students so ready to learn!

We learned some interesting things as a group, from Hill + Knowlton explaining their diverse work setting and different departments, to Shaw Media’s take on publicity versus traditional public relations and Paradigm PR’s insight into how to make yourself stand out and hearing from a recent grad.

I also learned that your internship is the place to find love, as Carolyn Abbass slyly mentioned, “If you’re looking for a husband, I found mine during my internship.”

Arden Bagni, President, Student Steering Committee

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Hosts enjoyed some yummy cupcakes from Desmond and Beatrice as a thank you from the committee!


Group C: Strut Entertainment | Ketchum | Edelman

During my time at the three locations, meeting people from Seneca College, Centential College and fellow Humber College students, I learned the following:

Forget everyone that says you can’t do it, because you can.
Creativity is intelligence having fun.
Dive into the deep end and find what you like.
Finally, show up as you, whether it be bold, curious or unique.

Alexandra Zwicker-deSmit, Humber College PR Postgrad Certificate program student

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I haven’t stopped raving about how modern, swanky and inviting Edelman’s Toronto office is. It’s like the kind of dream office space you see in movies! If I had a chance to work at Edelman one day, I wouldn’t care if PR isn’t your typical “9 to 5” kind of job! Other than obsessing over that aspiration, I met a lot of students from Humber and Seneca College who set their sights on an agency environment too. The most important thing I learned was your personal brand and “fit” with the agency is more important than your repertoire of skills since most graduates come out with similar abilities. I would definitely do this event again and want to learn more about how corporate and agency PR differ.

Anthony Ou, Centennial College CCPR postgraduate certificate program student

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Group D: TELUS | Metrolinx | LCBO

This was my first Passport to PR event and I was lucky enough to lead an exceptional group of 15 students. All locations offered an array of industry knowledge and experience. My only regret during the event is wishing I could have seen ALL 21 locations. The main theme that resonated with me is PR professionals do not follow one true path leading them to their careers. Students will need a combination of hard work, networking and a little bit of luck to end up where they want to be!

Charzie Abendanio, Vice President, Student Steering Committee

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Passport is an excellent event providing an insider’s glimpse into corporate communications and public relations at three distinct companies. Each company provided a great overview of the range of opportunities available within corporate communications and PR. Gabriel Mederos, senior communications manager – social media at TELUS told us about the importance of social media and its integration in everything they do. Metolinx’s communications co-ordinators Natalie Tutunzis and Vindra Dhanraj gave a great presentation about internal and external strategic communications. The LCBO’s Heather MacGregor (media relations co-ordinator and communications consultant) and Bill Kennedy (executive director, corporate communications) discussed the importance of understanding and aligning with business goals. And yes, we did end up talking about our favourite drinks! I think the best part of the presentations was that they covered things we learn in class – the importance of research, setting measurable goals and knowing your audience. It is great to know the skills we are learning in the classroom will be applicable when we start our careers. Great job CPRS Student Steering Committee!

Jess MacGregor, Centennial College CCPR postgraduate certificate program student

Students from as far as Conestoga came to enjoy the event!

Students from as far as Conestoga came to enjoy the event!


Group E: energi PR | NATIONAL Public Relations | North Strategic

NATIONAL is the place to be. After touring the stunning office and meeting Sarah Bannoff and Noor Marzook my heart is set on working in agency. The multitude of sectors including marketing and healthcare intrigued me and opened my eyes to the goodwill that can come from health-related PR.

This agency captures professionalism and fun, after all, life is a balancing act. The motto “work hard, play hard” at NATIONAL is a motto they live by, especially with a bar located on the main floor. Thanks for the tour and you will absolutely be getting my resume.

– Sinead McElhinney, Humber College PR Postgrad Certificate program student

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Who knew bathroom products could be so intriguing? Noor Marzook, senior consultant, marketing communications at NATIONAL Public Relations convinced me that with a creative, hard working team, anything is possible!

Before Passport to PR, I never thought about going into marketing communications. After sitting in NATIONAL’s presentation, I discovered how diverse agency is. There are endless opportunities for growth and experience. Noor talked about Kohler‘s marketing campaign, which promoted the launch of their new products. Her passion about her work has motivated me to learn more about her work and responsibilities.

Thanks to Passport to PR, I can look forward to connecting with her in the future.

Lauren Mueller, Humber College PR Postgrad Certificate program student

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Group F: Pilot PMR | Corus Entertainment | Strategic Objectives

If I could give one piece of advice to all PR students it would be to attend CPRS Toronto’s Passport to PR event. It will teach you things you cannot learn in the classroom and give you a real, in-depth look into what it is like to work in PR. Even though your mind might be set on a certain path, Passport can open your eyes to a new world within public relations. Many of my group members were not even considering working at an agency but after hearing our speakers at Strategic Objectives, it is now their first choice!

Matthew Palmer, Student Representative, Student Steering Committee

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Coming from Centennial College, Passport to PR was a great opportunity to meet PR students from other schools, connect with more people and build my network! My group leader, Matt was super organized and made the event lots of fun! It was exciting to learn more about the industry. As I’m only in first year, I haven’t had the chance to experience first hand what public relations does in the real world. The biggest thing I learned when visiting these three amazing places was the difference between corporate and agency. Initially I was planning on staying away from agency employment, but Strategic Objectives changed my mind and I know I wasn’t the only one in group F who started to warm up to the idea of an agency!

Kate Perkins, First year student in Centennial College’s Bachelor of PR Management program

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Group G: Veritas | TIFF | TD Canada Trust

My favourite stop of the day was Veritas. From the second we walked in, you could feel the cool vibe of the agency. The boardroom was all set up for us, with music playing and breakfast and coffee. Sue Kuruvilla, Ashley Therriault, and Lena Hesse shared their varied experiences in a very genuine way. I loved learning about Veritas’ unique take on public relations, “Influencing the Influencers,” and the new Growth & Innovation lab. My brain was left spinning with excitement as we walked out the door, but one thought came to the forefront, “Wow, I would just love to work there.”

Carolyn Gooderham, Seneca College Corporate Communications Certificate program student

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I was lucky enough to visit three very different PR atmospheres during my time at Passport to PR. Ranging from the small boutique agency of Pilot PMR, to corporate communications and publicity at Corus Entertainment and ending with the award-winning Strategic Objectives. Each stop had motivating and inspiring advice for newcomers to the world of PR, but a few choice quotes resonated with me, and I will be carrying them throughout my career.

“Don’t work in isolation. Collaborating makes you smarter.”
“Don’t be distracted by shiny objects, and the next big thing.”
“Your job is to dream big, and do it differently.”
“Challenge yourself, and stay news hungry.”

Passport to PR opened up the doors to a world of possibilities, and reassured me that mentors are waiting, and wanting to help us succeed once we step out into the PR world. Thank you CPRS for such an amazing event.

– Brittney Newstead, Humber College PR Postgrad Certificate program student

Oh, and don’t forget to tune into our tweetup at the end of every Passport to PR event, or you may end up sad like Anthony:

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Check out some more photos from the event below.

*Photo credit: Peter May

Event Post: CPRS Toronto’s Annual Open House


CPRS Toronto’s annual Open House – October 15, 2014

Tune in for our blog series featuring some of the great event CPRS Toronto and the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee host!


CPRS Toronto opened the new year with a bang at the annual Open House. Held at the Bedford Academy in downtown Toronto, students, professionals, members and non-members alike came together.





Katryna Fernandes, a Student Representative on CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee, writes about her first experience at a CPRS event:

“A first-time CPRS member and a fairly new addition to the PR community, I was excited and nervous for my first networking event at the Open House. I had the pleasure of chatting with a few industry professionals and each conversation had me in awe of the many available opportunities I have as a student entering the industry. Chatting with these professionals from a variety of backgrounds really opened my eyes to the many career paths available, and showed me how close-knit the CPRS community really is.


“As a member of the Student Steering Committee, a really cool aspect of attending was meeting other student members, many also newbies like myself. I enjoyed the stimulating discussions with other post-graduate students comparing our programs, ambitions and interests inside and outside the industry. It was also great receiving feedback on the committee’s upcoming event, Passport to PR. By the sounds of it, many students are really excited to explore Toronto’s PR scene, and get a grasp of what they may be interested in.

“Overall, I had a wonderful time at the Open House. Everyone at CPRS is extremely friendly and I am thrilled to be a new member of this community!”




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Jessica Orchard, a recent graduate, gives us her account of her first CPRS event:

“My degree and certificate in Communication Studies tell me I am a professional communicator, but these two pieces of paper don’t boost my confidence and invigorate my soul the way a gathering of CPRS members can!


“My professors at Seneca College urged me to sign up as a member with the CPRS at the beginning of our program. They highlighted the many benefits of getting involved with a society of other professionals, or as Ashley refers to them in her tweet as ‘awesome perks!’


“Although I am more of an introvert, I attended the Open House on my own. I was slightly apprehensive when I arrived, but my attitude quickly shifted. The speeches didn’t begin immediately, giving me time to network. Networking can seem daunting if you aren’t used to it, but it wasn’t hard since everyone offered their hand and name as soon as I looked at them.

“An example of how welcoming the CPRS Toronto members are can be seen in the following tweets from Hilary and Cole.


“I had the pleasure of meeting them at the event, speaking to them about their experiences and discussing my goals. Hilary and I share a hometown outside of Toronto, which made her insight of finding work in the city very valuable! When I mentioned I am most interested in working in the non-profit sector, they were quick to introduce me to other CPRS members who currently work in that industry. It was incredible to see how much the other CPRS members cared about my success.

The saying “you get what you give” does not apply to the CPRS. The fact is that you get more than you give! My initial plan was to show up for an hour or two and then leave, but I lost track of time and stayed until 10 p.m. when almost everyone else was gone. The CPRS members reinvigorated my passion for communication, offered useful advice, and have opened up new opportunities for me. Now that I’ve finally been to my first CPRS event, I cannot wait to attend the next one!”

What was your favourite part about CPRS Toronto’s Open House this year?

















Katryna Fernandes is a Student Representative on CPRS Toronto’s Student Steering Committee. She is a student in Centennial College’s Corporate Communications Post-Graduate Certificate program. Find her on:

Twitter: @_katiefernandes

Jessica Orchard is a recent graduate from Seneca College’s Corporate Communications Post-Graduate Certificate program. Find her on:

Twitter: @JessicaOrchard3

Photo Credit: Peter May