Tag Archives: public relations

CPRS Toronto panel revealed top communication trends for 2018


TORONTO – December 15, 2017 – To think of 2018 and what that means for the PR profession can be exciting and frightening. No matter what side of PR you work on, the landscape has been changing at a rapid pace with no end in sight.

At the final Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) – Toronto Chapter event of the year on December 4, a panel of CPRS members and thought leaders explored communication trends to watch for 2018. The panel included:

  • Ian Ross, APR, director of communications, Ontario Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (moderator)
  • Tracey Bochner, co-founder and president, Paradigm
  • Bruce MacLellan, founder and CEO, Environics Communications
  • Lauren More, vice-president of communications, Ford Motor Company Canada

The discussion focused on three key trends.

Trend 1: PR practitioners need a new set of skills.
Teams are being built in different ways to solve communications challenges and data is being used more to influence decisions. “This is a great opportunity for PR as it gives you a chance to expand and adapt your skills – like learning about data and metrics as they are becoming extremely important to PR,” said Bruce MacLellan.

Also, with artificial intelligence (AI) being harnessed to provide value to consumers – it will be used by approximately 80 per cent of chat bots in the US next year – engagement with clients and consumers will change. Although there’s a shift to AI, Lauren More believes “one thing that AI cannot do is tell a story that will tug at people’s heart strings and resonate beyond the noise.”

Trend 2: PR is becoming increasingly integrated.
PR campaigns are no longer focused solely on one channel. “When you get an RFP, it’s not the same [as it once was] – you have to include PR, digital, social and experiential marketing,” explained Tracey Bochner.

The panel discussed how it is a misconception that PR is merging into other areas like advertising and marketing. In reality, the practice of PR is expanding and growing into new areas. Clients, for example, no longer want to go to three different agencies for three different things – they want one agency for several services.

Trend 3: PR practitioners need to change how they develop content.
Resource crunches are affecting all companies – budgets are getting tighter and traditional media outlets are decreasing. This forces PR to be strategic in how it’s used to tell meaningful stories.

The panel agreed, more content is not always better. Effective campaigns can no longer rely solely on news releases and earned media efforts. They now require some aspect of paid media, which can include influencers to help further target key audiences.

This CPRS Toronto communications trends panel is the first annual (held at the end of every calendar year), hosted by the local chapters president(s) with panelists made up of thought-leading chapter members.

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.

The Future of Public Relations


This post was written by CPRS Toronto’s Director of Education, Heath Applebaum, ABC. Heath is the President of Echo Communications and a professor at University of Guelph-Humber, teaching strategic communications. 

On August 15, I had the distinct pleasure of moderating the inaugural Future of PR event, where an all-star panel of corporate, agency and academic thought leaders gazed into a crystal ball to scrutinize where the profession is headed.

Panelists included Dave Haggith, Senior Director of Communications at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Daniel Tisch, President, Argyle Public Relationships, Barry Waite, Academic Chair of Communications at Centennial College, and Anne Marie Males, PR Professor and Coordinator for the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Humber College.

Together we examined a broad range of important themes impacting professionals, educators and students across Canada, including the seven megatrends impacting our industry that were identified in the recent CPRS white paper, The Elevation of Public Relations. These trends include the rising business value of reputation, the empowered audience, content shock, many speak, few listen, fake news and the decline of journalism, a gap in wealth and trust, and artificial intelligence.

The panel engaged in a captivating dialogue with a packed crowd at the Pilot Tavern in downtown Toronto with conversations flowing for hours after the formal event had concluded.


Several key ideas emerged from discussions flowing from the changing media and business landscape in Canada. Living in an era of digital transparency, relationships have become more essential than ever for building, protecting and managing organizational reputation.

In a world where information and misinformation spreads globally with the click of a mouse, public relations professionals have an unprecedented opportunity to earn leadership roles that transcend communication, truly inform and influence business strategy and outcomes.

With the emergence of fake news and unfortunate decline of journalism, panelists emphasized the need for our profession to play an even greater role in safeguarding accurate and ethical communications.

A growing concern is that the reputations of people, companies and brands have never been more vulnerable to attack. Communicators must invest more resources towards listening, engaging stakeholders and anticipating issues, and establish rapid-response capabilities.  The former 24-hour news cycle we once knew, has accelerated into more of a 24-second Twitter news cycle that is requiring our industry to consider new strategies and for organizations to become nimbler than ever.

Ultimately, with new technologies constantly emerging and predictive analytics bound to take on a greater role in our world, to stay ahead of the curve, practitioners will have to embrace lifelong learning.  Only then can we truly learn from the past, live in the present and prepare for the future.


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

Where are they now?


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

Where are they now?


Featuring Terrence Freeman, Vice President, External, CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee

What did you enjoy most about being on the SSC?

What I liked most about being on the SSC was having significant responsibility on the experiences and events we were creating for Toronto PR students.  As an executive member on the committee, I took part in making the decisions that would affect students’ CPRS Toronto experience, which also helped me grow professionally.

Where do you work now and what do you do?

During the summer, previous to my last year in Humber College’s bachelor of public relations program, I completed a public relations internship with Metro Ontario. Working client-side in a corporate marketing department allowed me to not only develop real-world industry experience, but also explore my interest in other aspects of marketing in addition to PR.

As I came closer to finishing my degree, I was offered a marketing coordinator job at Metro Ontario – and gladly accepted! While working on the more “traditional” marketing side of the industry I have continued to learn a vast amount of knowledge. I’ve also found that I have been able to transition much of my public relations skills to communicating to customers in other ways that the marketing aspect requires.

In my current position, I focus on everything “in-store” related. This includes communicating a variety of important messages to customers using multiple marketing elements including audio, signage and creative.

Although I originally had planned a career in public relations for myself, I am happy that my career path has steered into the broader world of marketing – a side of the industry that allows me to utilize the communications skills I learned in school and learn new skills I hope to apply throughout the rest of my career.

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

Not only did my position on CPRS Toronto provide me with unique “real world” experience, but it also allowed me to meet and learn directly from top professionals in public relations industry.

Twitter: @itsterrence

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/terrencegfreeman

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


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


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


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


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