To The New CCPRs On The Block

“Back to work on Monday. Don’t know where the summer went. But looking forward to an amazing new school year with 80 new future PR professionals.” – Barry Waite

GAWD, that’s a lot of new students coming into the corporate communications and public relations program at Centennial College this September! It will be one year since I enrolled in CCPR and it was the best decision I made in my life so far. I made new friends, went to a lot parties, made connections in the industry and learned the best way possible, HANDS ON! Since I’m now an alumni of Centennial’s awesome program, like a big brother, I want to give you new CCPRers some tips (maybe tricks?) on your post-grad experience to make it awesome!

1. Make friends with your fellow CCPRers: During the first few weeks you’ll be introducing yourself to your fellow colleagues. You’ll get to hear where everyone came from, their experience, their passion, and where they want to end up. Make sure you talk to everyone, even people in the other block! Not only are they your fellow students but they’re your first PR contacts. Sure you’ll be closer to a few people than others but never break relationships. Plan lunch outings, a happy hour after class, or even a secret santa at school. The friends you make at CCPR will be ones you have for the rest of your brand new career! Enjoy yourself and remember everyone is in the same boat.

2. Everyone is in the Same Boat: You’re in post-grad for a reason, you want to start your career. That goes the same for all your peers in the program. Try helping out your peers if they are stuck on an assignment or if they need help on Photoshop and InDesign. I had someone in the program who was charging people for a copy of the Adobe CS program and I didn’t think that was nice. So the next day I downloaded the whole program and gave it to everyone for free. If you have any knowledge in the PR or social media world share them with your friends. For example, during the internship search, if you see an agency that one of your friends would like then let them know. In the end everyone will have an internship so don’t worry.

3. Teachers = Mentors: Post-grad is nothing like your first year at University. Everyone is mature and the teachers are really there to help you get your career started. Teachers like Barry, Donna, Clowater, #Paolo and Vivienne are just some of the mentors who will guide you through the program. Feel free to talk with any of them about your PR goals or struggles with CCPR. The assignments and projects that you get won’t be useless because you’ll able to put the best ones in your PR portfolio. Remember, nobody knows the PR world more then your teachers.

4. Social Media is Your Voice: Twitter, LinkedIn, and blogging are going to play a big role in your path to becoming a PR pro. If you haven’t already, start a Twitter account right now! If your Twitter is locked, that’s a bad move. Follow all the PR agencies and PR pros around Toronto. If you find an agency that you really like engage with them to get noticed. When you tweet think how you want to be presented in the PR world. So tweet out PR news, social media trends, and fashion/entertainment (if you want to work in that industry). You will be using Twitter a lot during your time at CCPR. Like Twitter, blogging is very important in PR. Writing blog posts can help you develop and practise your writing skills. Blogging will also help you write short and sweet and keep your creative mind going. [Tip: you will be writing blog posts as assignments so start your blog now!]. Honestly, I could talk more about blogging and social media but I’m not going to drag this on….just click here.

5. Dress To Impress: Now I’m not saying to wear a suit and tie but please don’t wear sweatpants to school or really crazy revealing clothes. Your teachers and peers will notice your attitude, habits and the way you dress. You will get told that image is everything and you can make a great impression by the way you present yourself. Keep in mind that people at PR agencies are very fashionable so remember to dress for the career you want. [Tip: take a really professional photo for your LinkedIn/Twitter profile]. Check out the blog post, Dress For The Career You Want! for men and women fashion tips on how to look your best.

The first four months will be a little crazy with a lot of assignments overlapping each other but don’t worry you’ll do great! Barry will send you a lot of volunteer opportunities and I highly suggest you go to as many as possible. If you are looking to join CPRS or/and IABC do it because you will get a student discount, but it’s not necessary. CCPR was a lot of fun because of the awesome people I met in the program so don’t be shy and connect. I still hang out with people from CCPR and it’s always a blast!

Good luck CCPR Fall Semester 2013!

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Abercrombie & Fitch for the Homeless

Remember the lyric, “I like girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch” by the boy band LFO? Well, it turns out that Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries would change those lyrics to “I only like thin and beautiful girls that wear Abercrombie and Fitch.”

Jeffries and Abercrombie and Fitch has been in the spotlight lately due to the remarks he made in his 2006 Business Insider interview. Jeffries is quoted saying that he “doesn’t want larger people shopping in his store, he wants thin and beautiful people” and he “doesn’t want his core customers to see people who aren’t as hot as them wearing his clothing.” Definitely not a good look for the CEO of a major american fashion label to say.

There are also reports that Abercrombie and Fitch would “rather burn the clothes than give them to the poor.” In this social media world we live in, people will take matters into their own hands.

Activist and YouTube video director Greg Karber responded to the “not giving clothes to the poor” by heading into a Goodwill, purchasing Abercrombie and Fitch clothes, and giving it to the homeless. This is something that Abercrombie and Fitch should have seen coming.

I remember nothing at this store fit me, even though there were XL sweaters, it felt tight. It wasn’t a big deal to me that they should make larger sizes, I just shopped at different stores. Few years later I lost weight and now their Medium size shirts fit me. What I’m trying to say is that Jeffries shouldn’t have said anything about making smaller size clothing or hiring models as store associates because people already knew Abercrombie does (if not, then you’ve never been to a store). Now his reckless comments and actions will follow him throughout his career.

Abercrombie and Fitch posted a note from Jeffries on their Facebook page.

The Clowater Crisis Program

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*WARNING!*
You are about to experience The Clowater Crisis Program.

Imagine you walk into your college, you’re sitting in your class, and all of a sudden you hear the fire alarm and everyone starts to panic. What do you do? Well by taking The Clowater Crisis Program you, yes you fellow PR friend, can learn how to handle and control a crisis situation! Whether it be your college burning down or a campaign that you’re working on spiral out of control on Twitter, The Clowater Crisis Program will prepare you for the worst case scenario and properly help you send out your messages.

Clowater is his name and crisis communications is his game. In The Clowater Crisis Program, you will be placed in a classroom setting where you have to create a communications team of five people. Your group’s task will be to create a communication plan during a live crisis simulation.

The crisis: Fire! Fire! Fire!
There is a huge fire at your school and it’s spreading fast throughout the area. People are in disarray as there is no communication between handled with students, media, and the community.

There will be live updates on the fire from Clowater throughout the hour.

Your task: Communicate Crisis
Your task is to create a crisis communication strategy to properly communicate with stakeholers, media, and the general public.

The first thing you will want to do is research who needs to be communicated – the audience.
1. Stakeholders
2. Media
3. Public (community)

After you find out your audience, then come up with key messages. As a communicator you have to remember how you want the situation to be perceived.

  • when writing key messages, target each of your messages towards the specific audience.

So for stateholders they need to know how much damage there is (all about the money and give details).

Media they need to know if everyone is safe and that the crisis is being handled quickly. I suggest writing to-the-point and keep it very brief. Everybody listens to the news, especially breaking news like a fire at a school. No lies, so know what you give them is real. Ensure that you will give up-to-dates information as it develops.

Lastly, the general public needs to know about safety and how much impact it will make in the community. Again, you want to tell them the truth and give details (but not too much). You want to give the surrounding community updates on the fire and trust that the crisis is being taken care of. After that, determine what platforms your team are going to use and who will be in charge of writing what; News releases, social media, emails, etc.

Now I could tell you everything about The Clowater Crisis Program, but where’s the fun in that! This is just one example of what you can expect from The Clowater Crisis Program. Don’t wait until your next campaign has a crisis, take control of the situation fast, smooth, and strategically TODAY!

Visit Centennial College to learn more.

I’m Different, Yea I’m Different

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I may be wearing a white shirt with a tie in my picture above but don’t let that fool you, I am still Heroin Tracks! Seven months ago I made a life changing decision; go back to college. They say don’t ever look back, just look forward, but I think I made the best decision of my life so far (I hope). I thought I didn’t know much about corporate communications and public relations, but with all the blogging, attending events, interviews with artists, and social media promotion, I wasn’t totally out of the loop.

There are over 60 of my peers who are trying to land a job in public relations and I have to stand out from the rest. How am I different?

Well, I would have never thought that starting a blog in 2010 would land me back in college to a career in public relations. It’s hard finding what your passion is in life, but I’ve spent over four years working hard to know that I am ready to make the transition into a PR pro. Everything I’ve done has been a learning experience and in a way, it was tying into PR. Heroin Tracks was a platform me to practice my persuasive writing and introduce me to Twitter, which then led me to create a social media campaign for a not-for-profit organization with XTM Inc. That led me to manage the iconic clothing brand, Roots, where I engaged with thousands of customers through social media and create emails. Roots then led me to Centennial College, where I organized a charity launch event with no budget and I had to a write donation letter and save-the-date email to persuade the media and organizations.

I want to combine my new found public relations knowledge and digital marketing experience by working at a PR and/or digital marketing agency.

Oh, and even though I started a blog that covers PR and social media, I try and include a song in my posts. That’s how I’m different!

TMZ vs. YMCMB: Lil Wayne Suffers Seizures

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On March 15, 2013, one of hip-hop’s biggest artist, Lil Wayne, was hospitalized after having a seizure. Now here’s when it gets interesting. TMZ broke the news on their website stating that Wayne was rushed to the ICU (intensive care unit) at a Los Angeles hospital. TMZ said that Wayne was “unstable”, “placed in a coma,” “breathing through tubes,” and “shaking violently.” The gossip website was updating throughout the night reporting that Wayne was critical condition and final prayers were taking place. TMZ was basically stating that Wayne was going to die.

This was a lot of news coming from TMZ and it was all really serious. Wayne dying would make huge impact in the music industry. He has major endorsements such as Pepsi’s Mountain Dew, his own clothing line, Trukfit, and he has his own record label, Young Money Entertainment (signed Drake and Nicki Minaj). Whether you hate him or love him, Wayne is a big deal.

During that same night that TMZ was reporting their news, Young Money Entertainment’s manager Mack Maine was on Twitter tweeting to fans that Wayne was doing ok and he was watching a basketball game. Maine also said that TMZ was releasing falsified information about Wayne breathing through tubes and being on his deathbed. There were also credible bloggers like Karan Civil who tweeted out saying Wayne was not dying. Cash Money Entertainment’s president and mentor, Birdman, told reporters not to listen to TMZ and that Wayne didn’t suffer multiple seizures. The rapper’s spokeswoman Sarah Cunningham also released a statement in an email to CNN saying that Wayne did have a seizure but is recovering and is doing good.

Wayne was released from the hospital on March 18, 2013 and he is back to his usual self. I just hope that near death experience will make him a better person and artist.

But overall, who can you really trust in this situation? TMZ is known for their credible sources, but that night they could have been getting false information from a nurse or a staff member at the hospital. As I was watching this whole thing unfold on Twitter, I knew that Mack Maine, Birdman, and Karan Civil were close friends of Wayne so their tweets were credible. At the same time though, Mack Maine could be saying that Wayne was doing “fine” because of how much Wayne is worth. Putting business first.

Let me know your thoughts on this situation!

Why It’s Important to Blog in Public Relations

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I am in my last few weeks of the corporate communications and public relations program at Centennial College and the pressure is on to find a great PR agency or organization to join. I’ve been blogging for about four years now and I found that it helped me get a few interviews and it developed a creative portfolio. I always find it weird when people who are starting out in public relations are not taking blogging seriously.

For those that want a career in public relations you need to have strong writing skills, social media experience, and multimedia experience. If you don’t have those skills, don’t worry. I am here to tell you how you can possess all three essential skills just by blogging.

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‘Spun Out’ – A TV Show about Public Relations

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There’s been a show about the advertising world (Mad Men), a show about journalists (The Newsroom), and now us PR practitioners finally have a show!

The new comedy sitcom, ‘Spun Out’, follows a disgraced writer Beckett Ryan who joins King PR, a public relations agency staffed with people who can spin everyone’s problems but their own. After accusing a famous author of stealing his book with disastrous results, Beckett turns to King PR for help, and quickly realizes that the agency needs someone with his charm and wit just as much as he needs them to help him earn a little forgiveness. No matter how bizarre the cases are that the agency takes on, they pale in comparison to the workplace romances, rivalries, personal successes, and often hilarious failures of the close-knit and dysfunctional colleagues at King PR.

“Tackling the highs, the lows, and the bizarre in the fast-paced world of public relations, ‘Spun Out’ is a hilarious rollercoaster ride that dives into the dysfunction of close-knit colleagues,” said Phil King, President, CTV Programming and Sports.

The cast of ‘Spun Out’ includes Dave Foley (Dave, the boss of King PR), Paul Campbell (Beckett Ryan), Rebecca Dalton (Stephanie, daughter of Dave), Al Mukadam (PR shark Nelson), and JP Manoux (Dave’s ever-loyal assistant Bryce).

‘Spun Out’ is created by Jeff Biederman (Life With Derek), Brent Piaskoski (According to Jim) and Brian K. Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond), and is produced by Andrew Barnsley (Hotbox). Roberts will also be directing the show.

The CTV network as ordered a full-season of 12 episodes including the pilot shot in February – all episodes will be shot in Toronto. It’s perfect because Toronto is known to be one of the cities with the largest PR agencies.

So the real question is my fellow PR pros, will you be watching ‘Spun Out’? It does sound like a funny show and you have Roberts who produced and directed Everybody Loves Raymond behind the show. PR is known to be a fast-paced industry and stressful, so it will be interesting to see how they will add humour.

If you would pitch an idea of a ‘Spun Out’ episode, what would it be?

Facebook feeds us a Redesigned News Feed

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On Thursday, March 7, 2013, Facebook did some spring cleaning and announced a refreshed design of their News Feed. Most of the time when I go on Facebook, I just check my News Feed because I can get the information quick, so it was about time that things changed. Just like Facebook’s Timeline, the new News Feed is all about bigger content like photos – everything has been enlarged so it’s easier to see.

Facebook also wanted to “reduce the clutter” and give more control to the user, so on the new News Feeds there are different feeds which you can browse:

All Friends – a feed that shows you everything your friends are sharing.
Photos – a feed with nothing but photos from your friends and the Pages you like.
Music – a feed with posts about the music you listen to.
Following – a feed with the latest news from the Pages you like and the people you follow.

This new News Feed isn’t anything new, if you’ve been using Facebook on your iPhone or BlackBerry Z10, you’ll notice that Facebook brought that interface to the web version.

Facebook will be rolling out the new design over the coming weeks on web and mobile. These design updates will be available on your iPhone and iPad in the coming weeks and to Android soon after.

What does Facebook’s new News Feed mean for PR practitioner? Visual content will play more of an important role in terms of popping off the page. The update will be great for brands because images always play a major impact on engagement, so with larger images it should draw more clicks. It’s not only about images however, it’s important to take advantage of videos, polls, and sharing articles to interact with users.

Dress For The Career You Want! with Heather Hawke from Off The Rack PR

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Often throughout the PR program, we get told from our mentors that our image is everything and it plays a huge role when we’re searching for jobs. What we say on Twitter, and the pictures we post on Facebook and Instagram, reflects our brand. I never really took that advice seriously, but then it hit me that employers will Google you. Your personal brand is about who you are and what you want to be known for. Two months in, I cleaned up my Twitter, untagged a few pictures on Facebook, and started to watch what I say (kind of).

“You can tell a lot by the way someone is dressed, the crease in the pants, the knot in the tie, that wrinkles in the shirt. Don’t let the way you dress interfere with anything.”

Unfortunately, not a lot of people are taking this seriously. Their Twitter is ok, but when you go on Facebook or Instagram, that’s where it gets messy. There are a few people who really don’t know how to dress. I’m not saying you should wear a suit or dress shoes everyday, but don’t wear clothes that reveal everything, everyday… in front of your peers and teachers! When you have an interview at a PR agency, you will want to look your best because most of the people that work there are very fashionable.

Today on PRdrink PRvoker, I want to give you (men and women) tips on how to dress for the career you want! I also have a special guest blogger, Heather Hawke, creator of Off The Rack PR, who is going to be giving her personal tips and favourite styles for women, while I will be talking about my favourite types of casual yet business looks for men.

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