Tag Archives: Toronto

CPRS Toronto panel revealed top communication trends for 2018

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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.

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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