Tag Archives: student blog

Speed Networking – A look inside PR 360


On April 7, the CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee (SSC) hosted their last event of the 2015/2016 school year, which took place at the Chelsea Hotel in downtown Toronto. A total of 72 public relations students from across the GTA attended the event, which allows small groups of students to intimately sit with professionals from a variety of public relations sectors.

Of course, the hot topic of the night for students was internships. They sought out advice on how to be exceptional during the internship hiring season and how to better their chances at landing their dream job.  In additional to these useful tips, the participating professionals shared additional industry insights.

At the Finance table, Laurrell Mohammed, Corporate and Public Affairs Manager at TD Bank Group, stressed the importance of being able to “sell yourself” in an interview. David Rowney, Senior Manager of Canadian Banking Communications at Scotiabank, added that volunteering for your choice company is a good place to start.


Mike Van Soelen, Senior Principal from Navigator Ltd., seated at the Crisis Communications table, defined the process of building media relationships as “tricky” and explaining the importance of developing thick skin. While Vice President of NATIONAL PR, Jeff Roman, and NATIONAL PR Associate, Laura Poplak, advised that students should consider how to help the media you’re working with, and to offer them your support.

In the Government session Keerthana Kamalavasan, Senior Communications Advisor for the Office of the Mayor, recommended letting your coworkers know which projects you’re especially interested in and making yourself invaluable. Brendan Agnew-Iler, Account Director from Argyle Public Relationships, gave the students wise words to ponder whilst pursuing a career in PR: “If you’re not failing sometimes, you’re not trying hard enough.”

Speakers 1

From left to right: Lauren Poplak, Brian Rosevear, Linda Andross, Tracy Ford, Dan Young, Jeff Roman, Mike Van Soelen, David Rowney, Laurrell Mohammed, Abby Albino, Brendan Agnew-Iler, Christine Faulhaber, Jeanette Jones, Sandra Gregory, Debra Goldblatt-Sadowski, Jennifer Wasley, Samantha Taus, Ogho Ikhalo and Keerthana Kamalavasan

 The event showcased the range of positions in which public relations students could find themselves in their future. Other sectors included in the event were Consumer/Corporate, Global/Mid-size Agency, Non-Profit, Sports, Entertainment and Hospitality. Following the table discussions, attendees were free to mingle, network and try to glean final bits of crucial advice.

Not only was the night a fantastic chance to meet professionals, but it also provided a great opportunity to connect with other PR students entering the field. The SSC will be back in September for another great year of student-focused events.

It is a wonderful time to be in public relations and good luck to all the students this year heading into the industry!

Elyse Carney is a representative on the SSC currently attending Durham College.

Informational interviews: three reasons why you should go to one


Informational interviews are less stressful than job interviews and offer practical career advice outside the classroom. Instead of reading a company’s “About” page I have found it more effective to reach out to someone I admire and pick their brain to accelerate my career search.

After researching professionals on LinkedIn, I came across Humber PR alumna and former TVO public relations manager Kathy Saliba. I was eager to meet with her and our second degree connection was kind enough to introduce us.

I learned a lot from our coffee chat and she offered relevant industry advice. Here are three reasons why I recommend going on informational interviews:

1) Gain insight from industry professionals.

It’s a great opportunity to ask specific questions about their personal experience, which you won’t get from an online search engine.

Kathy’s advice:

  • Be open-minded. Opportunities can open up where you least expect them.
  • Be a sponge. Absorb as much information as you can. Make the most of every experience.
  • The learning process is never ending. Keep searching for opportunities to grow. Take advantage of the professional development and training courses offered online, at work or through professional organizations such as the CPRS Toronto Society.

2) Their knowledge of the industry can help you choose your path:

I was interested in learning about the differences between working in a large firm, boutique agency and corporate setting. Since Kathy had experience in all three she was able to shed some light on the subject.

Kathy suggested trying different work environments throughout your career to determine your preferred lifestyle and sector.

Informational Interviews

3) Helpful career tips

Kathy generously shared advice on how to succeed in job interviews:

  • Read the company’s press releases and conduct a media audit to become more informed about the employer’s latest projects.
  • In case of any questions about media relations, research media outlets tailored to the company’s clients or products. It’s a good habit to form a media list filled with specific traditional media, online bloggers and influencers.
  • Research the person you are interviewing on LinkedIn to see if you have any shared connections or experiences you can bring up in the interview.

I encourage students and recent graduates to go on informational interviews if they want to build their confidence and learn more about their future. The more you go on and the more interview practice you obtain, the more prepared you will be to navigate your PR career.

By: Alessandra Manieri, Post-Graduate Public Relations Humber College




CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee Profile: Seneca, Durham and Ryerson


Get to know our 2015/2016 student representatives from Seneca College, Durham College and Ryerson University.

We’ll be introducing the rest of our student representatives right here on the blog in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!



Erika Manassis

Seneca College, Public Relations-Corporate Communications

My name’s Erika and I represent Seneca College on the SSC. I am a recent Queen’s University graduate (Cha Gheill!), but reside in the GTA. I’m currently taking the post-graduate program in public relations and communications. This is my first year working with CPRS, and I already love how many opportunities for engagement the Toronto chapter has to offer.

What are you most excited for this year?

As a student representative, I have the unique opportunity to both plan and participate in student events, so I’m looking forward to seeing behind-the-scenes of CPRS. I’ve also gotten to know an amazing group of PR students at Seneca, and I can’t wait to get them all involved in upcoming events, workshops and social events through CPRS!

What do you do outside of school?

When I’m not studying communications, you’ll find me listening to podcasts (especially Freakonomics, Question of the Day and Stuff to Blow Your Mind), cooking Thai food, and blogging about public relations on my work-in-progress site MyPRJourney.weebly.com.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself

I like being organized, and hate feeling rushed, so I do my Christmas gift shopping every August.

Connect with Erika:

Twitter: @emanassis

LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/in/erikamanassis


Elyse Carney
Durham College, Advanced Diploma for Public Relations

I’m Elyse Carney, and I am the CPRS SSC rep for Durham College’s Advanced Diploma in Public Relations. The past few months for me have been all about learning the foundation of PR. Over this next year, I’m looking forward to networking with students and professionals, as well as attending events such as Passport to PR. Outside of school, I love to write, and try to live a healthy, active lifestyle.

Fun fact about myself? I love to cook!

Connect with Elyse:

Twitter: @elyse_carney

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/pub/elyse-carney/105/974/791


Jamie Jensen
Ryerson University, Public Relations Certificate

Hi Everyone! My name is Jamie and I’m representing Ryerson’s PR certificate program on the CPRS Student Steering Committee this year. As someone new to the program, we are limited to taking “Public Relations Principles” (CDPR 100) in the first semester as it is a prerequisite for all other courses in our program. That being said, it’s off to a great start. Our professor is fantastic and I find the material interesting.

What are you most excited for this year?
I’m very excited to meet and connect with fellow future PR professionals across the GTA through the many exciting events planned for this year. I’m particularly looking forward to Passport to PR later this month, as it will be a fantastic opportunity to gain firsthand insight into the industry.

What do you do outside of school?
Having recently moved to Toronto, I spend a lot of time exploring the city. I also love hiking, scuba diving, travelling and practicing yoga.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself:
I spent 6 months last year living in Sweden.

CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee Profile: Charzie Abendanio, President


Meet your 2015/2016 Student Steering Committee!

Stay tuned for more Student Steering Committee profile postings in the coming weeks.


Charzie Abendanio

Humber College, Bachelor of Public Relations, fourth-year

My name’s Charzie and I am this year’s SSC president. Coming from the role as VP I learned so much from the previous team and cannot wait to execute our anticipated events. I’m completing my last year at Humber in the Bachelor of Public Relations Program and have been volunteering with CPRS Toronto since first year. I love being a part of this organization and enhancing our industry through professional development events and award recognition.

Where are you from?

Born in the Philippines but raised in Toronto.

Do you have any other post-secondary education?

I started my post-secondary career at the University of Toronto studying Psychology, English and Philosophy but took time off and then found PR!

What are you most excited for this year?

We’ve finally completed all the class talks this month and entered a total of 12 PR classrooms in the GTA. I enjoyed speaking to the students who will one day be working in the industry and may even become my colleagues.

What event did you enjoy the most last year?

Last year I had the chance to plan and organize the Passport to PR, winter edition. It was a great experience where I was able to learn and also help other students find the sector of PR they aspire to work in. This is probably the event where you can really see the different sectors PR has to offer.

Have you interned anywhere?

In the summer between my second and third year I had the chance to intern at energi PR, a mid-size agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal, and there I worked with consumer clients. This past summer I completed an internship at Weber Shandwick, a global PR agency. I worked with the corporate practice team and loved every minute there. I admire the company and all the great things the team there has accomplished and the great things they will accomplish in the future.

What is your dream job?

My dream job would be to work for a company that is recognized all over the world, such as Red Bull. I would love to work for a company whose motto is to gain wings and accomplish anything.

What do you do outside of school?

Alongside with school I work part time, rock climb and occasionally join in on a hot yoga class.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself:

I received my first tattoo last year when I was on vacation and before I left I couldn’t help but get another one. Those probably won’t be the last either!


Find Charzie on:

Twitter: @charziecastillo

LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/in/charzieabendanio

CPRS Toronto Student Steering Committee Profile: Frances Sesay, Vice President, Internal


Meet your 2015/2016 Student Steering Committee!

Stay tuned for more Student Steering Committee profile postings in the coming weeks.



Frances Sesay

Humber College, Bachelor of Public Relations, third-year

Frances Sesay is a self-motivated and passionate individual who strives to meet and exceed expectations set before her. She is always ready and willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who may need it. Her goal is to successfully complete the Humber BPR program and move on to a prosperous career in PR.

Where are you from?

I was born in Kingston, Ontario but have lived in Toronto all my life. My ethnicity is Sierra Leonean (in West Africa).

Do you have any other post-secondary education?

I attended The University of Toronto, Scarborough campus. I took co-op sociology, psychology and health studies with the intent of getting into gerontology, the study of aging.

What are you most excited for this year?

I’m most excited about being the VP of Internal and having the opportunity to network with other PR students in the GTA as well as industry professionals.

Equally, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to encourage PR students to attend CPRS events and expressing the importance of putting yourself out there to get ahead.

Have you interned anywhere?

I’m currently interning and volunteering with Pride Toronto as a media relations team lead. I’ve been with them since November 2014.

What is your dream job?

My dream job is still to be determined.

What do you do outside of school?

I enjoy reading by the lake, free writing, spending time with family and friends and volunteering.

Tell us something unexpected about yourself:

I love all things cheetah print.


Find Frances on:

Twitter: @frances_sesay

LinkedIn: ca.linkedin.com/pub/frances-sesay/65/30a/a74


Why I joined CPRS


Read our first winning submission from the new CPRS Toronto Student Blog Contest!

New topics are posted every two weeks, so be sure to submit your content for your chance to win. The next topic will be announced Saturday, November 22.


The Best Career Move I’ve Made and Why You Should Do the Same

My fellow soon-to-be industry professionals, I’m about to let you in on a not-so-secret secret of mine: the top 4 reasons I joined CPRS (also known as ‘The Top 4 Reasons Why You Should If You Haven’t Already’ list). So without further ado, here’s why becoming a member was the best career move I’ve made so far:


Let’s get the obvious one on the table first: PR is All. About. Networking. This is rule #1 in the handbook, and for good reason. As individuals not yet employed in the field, being a member is a great way to mingle with those who are. As a student member, you’re given access to the Membership Directory in which hundreds of new contacts are at your fingertips. You are immediately connected with like-minded individuals who share your passion and drive. Basically career gold.


In the very competitive world of PR, internships are the Holy Grail; highly coveted, hard to obtain. So how does one land an internship? It’s no secret that experience helps tremendously. And how does one gain experience? Enter volunteering. Nothing shows commitment to a goal more than offering your time and efforts without being paid. As a student member, you are given priority over non-members in terms of volunteering opportunities, including spending time at the ACE Awards, CEO Award, Annual General Meeting and other fun events. With volunteering, you are able to gain some seriously valuable knowledge, meet some hard-working and intelligent people and add some seriously good things to your resume. Win-win-win.


The CPRS Student Steering Committee doesn’t play around when it comes to the events they graciously plan. The exceptional Passport to PR event sold out within 3 hours of registration opening, and guess who got first dibs on their choice of PR agencies and offices to tour? As a student member, you’re always the first to be able to sign up for events like Passport, as well as others. Even before you’re given the first opportunity to register, all student members receive a very considerate reminder email regarding the coming event. Being a member ensures you never miss the signup date for events that may catch your eye.


(This one is arguably the most rewarding) Being able to write for CPRS and have my own personal post featured for my peers to see is definitely an accomplishment, but something I wouldn’t have been able to do before becoming a member. As a recognized student within CPRS, you are given opportunities to succeed in an environment filled with people you respect and look up to that non-members simply don’t have access to. When I first came across CPRS while researching public relations, I never would have guessed my blog post would be read by students just like me, but I’m grateful to say that it is, and there’s absolutely no reason why the next contributor couldn’t be you… or you… or you. Just remember folks: to observe is one thing, but to actively participate is quite another.

So there it is! Waste no more time missing out on the events, networking and opportunities awaiting you. And trust me… the grass is greener on the members’ side.

(Also, to make your life easier: http://www.cprstoronto.com/studentmembershipapplication/)


Cheyenne Freitas is a fourth-year political science and media studies student at the University of Toronto. Find her on:


Program post: Loyalist College, post-graduate public relations


Choose your own adventure: Getting to know the post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College

Loyalist PR students at the United Way Fundraiser

Loyalist PR students at the United Way Fundraiser

Author: Ben Cowie

The post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College is a one-year certificate program. Known among students as “Loyalist PR”, the program is designed for recent post-secondary graduates looking for a professional career path to complement their existing education.

“I appreciate that in this program all experiences are viewed as an asset,” says student Kevin Ashbridge. “I get to build on my University of Ottawa degree, pad my current resume, develop new skills and shape them towards a profession that’s both challenging and exciting to me.”

Practical learning

Loyalist PR is all about hands-on, practical learning paired with students’ own individual interests.
“It’s a bit of a ‘choose your own adventure,’” says University of Western Ontario graduate and Loyalist PR student Ben Cowie. “You’re given the autonomy to choose your own topics of research, areas in which to network, and people to meet. We have no tests or exams. All of our learning is applied into the projects we create.”

Students are taught public relations basics, are encouraged to add their individual styles to assignments and learn how to operate multimedia software like Adobe InDesign and Photoshop. They’re also taught the art of developing social media strategies, brand management programs, internal communications plans, non-profit communication campaigns, event coordination, traditional and online writing and much more. At the end of the program these skills are applied by students during a month-long field placement in Ontario, Canada – or anywhere in the world.

Loyalist 3

Making connections

“I approached the program determined to take every opportunity that came my way,” says University of Guelph alumna Katrina White and Loyalist PR graduate 2013/14. “I found the professional association memberships [automatic with registration in the program] particularly useful. IABC and CPRS both hold great events for students.”

“You’ll meet real professionals there to mentor you because they have been in your shoes,” says Queens University graduate and Loyalist PR student Katie Stewart. “The College has connections in so many different industries. Our writing professor worked for the OHL and our program coordinator worked for the RCMP. We have health care connections, graduates who work at places like TIFF, the Ottawa Senators and Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto. The list goes on and on.”

The Loyalist PR program uses industry connections to benefit students on a daily basis and has many networking events throughout the year. In October the class takes a trip to Toronto, while speed networking, professional panels and micro-networking sessions take place regularly.

“Our network of employers and industry partners is growing each year,” says Kerry Ramsay, Loyalist College Professor and post-graduate public relations Program Coordinator. “It is especially rewarding to see so many of our alumni who are now working in the field become brand ambassadors for the program, and mentors for our current students.”

“I never realized just how vast the PR industry is,” says Ben. “It’s encouraging to know there are so many opportunities out there.”

Loyalist PR's social media team is partnering with the Belleville Firefighters' annual Christmas toy drive

Loyalist PR’s social media team is partnering with the Belleville Firefighters’ annual Christmas toy drive

Affordable lifestyle

Loyalist College is located in Belleville, Ontario where students quickly learn benefits of studying in a smaller city setting.

“For me, feeling like a person and not just a number goes a long way towards making me feel valued,” says Ben. “Loyalist PR this year has a class size of 25. We learn what it’s like to work as a team, to support and learn from one another. We are living in a microcosm of the actual PR work environment.”

Belleville is a strategic location for students; its campus located less than an hour’s drive from Kingston and Oshawa. Toronto is only two hours away and is readily accessible by VIA Rail, the 401 and major bus lines.

“Loyalist is a huge part of the Belleville community, and it feels great going to a school so locally involved,” says Julia Vriend, Queens University graduate and student of the program. “Loyalist students are actively involved in partnering with local businesses and charities. It’s nice feeling like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself – like our involvement with the United Way of Quinte and the Belleville Firefighters Toy Drive. We get opportunities to work on real fundraisers for school credit and the community’s benefit.”


Ben Cowie is a student in Loyalist College’s post-graduate public relations program. Find him on:

Twitter: @B9ers

Have questions about the post-graduate public relations program at Loyalist College? Interested in becoming a student for the day? Please contact Kerry Ramsay, Professor and Program Coordinator at kramsay@loyalistc.on.ca or visit www.loyalistpr.com.


**We are always looking for student submissions! If you would like to contribute to the new student blog, please email Arden at cprsstudents@gmail.com.

Internship post: energi PR


Practice makes perfect


Charzie and part of the energi team on National Ice Cream Day

Charzie and part of the energi team on National Ice Cream Day


Author: Charzie Abendanio

This summer I had the opportunity to intern at energi PR, a mid-size agency with offices in Toronto and Montreal. During my internship I was able to learn under professionals with extensive backgrounds in healthcare, travel and consumer public relations.

My experience at energi was not out of the ordinary from what other interns go through. I exercised practical and writing skills being taught in classrooms today, such as pitching to the media, blog writing and developing content for social media platforms.

The basic and most important attributes every student should have and develop, in my opinion, aren’t always tangible, new or revolutionary. They are basic concepts that need to be worked on daily with an opportunity to continuously improve them. Knowing your way around the areas I’ve listed below helped me accomplish the tasks and assignments given to me at my internship. Once my internship came to an end, I can say apart from the practical skills, I also learned many life skills which I will continue to use in school and in my future public relations career.


Charzie and the energi team at the Toronto Food Truck Alley on King

Charzie and the energi team at the Toronto Food Truck Alley on King


1. Practice your researching skills

I’ll be the first to admit my researching skills aren’t the greatest and I have a difficult time navigating the Internet to find the right information. I believe this is due to how much information is out there to filter through. One way to develop this skill is to research your own interests and hobbies, teaching you how to determine what good information is versus the most helpful.

2. Practice asking questions

In an ever changing industry like public relations you need to have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. If you are not asking questions you aren’t learning. In the summer I head the word “deck” almost every day and didn’t know what it meant. When I finally asked and learned it means a PowerPoint slideshow I realized there are many nuances in public relations I will come across in my career and may not understand them until I put aside my insecurities and pride to ask.

3. Practice your interpersonal skills

Three months may not be a long time but it is long enough to leave a lasting impression. When I first arrived at energi I wanted to get through the three months by doing my work and completing what was expected from me. I never realized I would work with people I continue to speak with to this day. The ability to listen and following direction, and work well in a team is a reflection of your personality. This leads me to my last and most important point.

4. Practice being you

The person who knows you the most is you! Being honest with yourself helps you become self-aware and contributes to your confidence. My second week I was asked to stand in front of everyone in the boardroom to discuss where I see myself in the industry and what I expected to take from my time at energi. I was so nervous but it gave me the ability to evaluate exactly what kind of PR practitioner I want to be while considering the steps I need to reach my goal.

Take a moment to evaluate yourself and discover your strengths and weaknesses. It can be a process but it allows you to explore who you are and helps direct you to where you want to be.

Charzie Abendanio is CPRS Toronto’s Vice President on the Student Steering Committee. She is a third year student in Humber’s Bachelor of Public Relations program. Find her on:

Twitter: @charziecastillo

**We are always looking for student submissions! If you would like to contribute to the new student blog, please email Arden at cprsstudents@gmail.com.

Industry post: Five time management lessons from PR agency life


Time management lessons from the agency life




Author: Cole Douglas

When working in the PR world one discovers that the phrase “time is money” couldn’t be more true. This proves to be even more relevant in the PR agency sector where you are charging for your services, sometimes in six-minute intervals.

Through participating in various PR agency internships I have learned the true secret to success is effective time management. I have decided to share five time management tips I have learned over the years that will lead you to success in any industry you decide to pursue.

1. Multitasking

This may sound obvious, especially in our technology-advanced generation, but couldn’t be more true. Being a successful multitasker will allow you to accomplish the various projects that come your way on time and on budget. If you are able to jump from writing a news release for a client one minute then having to adjust gears and compose an event critical path for another without hesitation, you will be successful. So next time you are on hold for a client’s product delivery, consider taking that 20-minute hold time to add to your other client’s Twitter editorial calendar.

2. Read it a second time

When you receive an urgent email or task, the first reaction is to delve right into the challenge. However, many people find themselves missing critical aspects of the project halfway through completion due to not reading the details. Make sure you take the extra five minutes to read through the task a second or third time and make note of all critical aspects. Once everything is accounted for you can drive full-steam ahead to success.

3. Budget for interruptions

No matter how effective you are at planning and executing your daily schedule remember that things come up. Taking the time to budget for even an hour of interruptions will help you stay on schedule for the day. And most times when you don’t end up having any pressing interruptions, you feel ahead of schedule.

4. Use your calendar

Your work calendar will become your best friend. Having clearly set activity times in your calendar will help you stay on track with your daily initiatives. I always found the 15 minute reminder alarm provided me adequate time to switch gears from one task to another.

5. Relax

At the end of the day with time sensitive projects, the best thing is to relax. Nothing will cut into your time more than a mind that is frozen with panic. Sometimes things can be a little overwhelming, but always remember that there is 24 hours in a day and anything is possible. Keeping a clear and stress-free mind will allow you to focus clearly and be more effective.

Time management is a constantly developing skill especially with the many tools appearing each day in our ever-developing industry. I hope that you will find at least one of these tips beneficial to you and provide another tool to add to your PR toolkit. What else would you add to the list?


photo 3

Cole Douglas is CPRS Toronto’s VP, External on the Student Steering Committee. He is a fourth year student in Humber’s Bachelor of Public Relations program. Find him on:

Twitter: @coledouglas7

**We are always looking for student submissions! If you would like to contribute to the new student blog, please email Arden at cprsstudents@gmail.com.