Launching Your Career in PR, Communication, and Marketing

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On Nov. 24th, industry leaders in communications, PR, and marketing shared their unique insights with McGill’s students.

Everyone that attended the Speaker Series session got their hands on some top tips for the next step in their career. The presenters spoke with great candour while reaffirming that there is no specific path to become a communications professional. Here are just a few of these fantastic tips:

 Valery Pasionek: self-confessed agency addict.

  • There’s no vanilla flavour in an agency —no one’s bland!
  • If you decide to work in an agency, you’ll have a chance to learn from the industry’s superstars.
  • When job-hunting, don’t sell your skills, sell yourself.

 

Darini Vedarattiname: lives to help others and has managed to make a career out of it.

  • Don’t waste your time working for an organization if it’s not right for you.
  • Build your network and brand—stand out and rise above the noise.
  • Help people and be genuine while doing so. You never know what may come of it.

 

Deborah Hinton: believes that it’s ok if your career path looks like a squiggly line.

  • Give yourself career goals to help you stay on track. Figure out what you want to achieve and give yourself a deadline.
  • Embrace curiosity: ask questions and get involved.
  • Make sure your network is diverse—we can learn a great deal from different people.

Many of us walked away from this memorable evening with a new set of tricks up our sleeves.

Thank you Deborah, Darini, and Valery for taking the time to come to McGill—we can’t wait to put your tips into practice!

Also, we would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the support of Investor’s Group for sponsoring the post-event networking session.

Many students voiced interest for professional mentoring. For further information about the resources at the SCS, please feel inclined to send an email to Emilie Nketiah at labourmarketconnections.scs@mcgill.ca.

 

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Earn a new credential to impress employers

Edelman PR’s Toronto branch gets between 95 and 120 CVs per month from entry-level candidates – – for between one and three positions! And they’re not the only ones. We hear the same thing from firms in Montreal and other cities. Public relations and communications management is a growing field – which means growing competition for good jobs. I’m glad to say many of our graduates do very well in the job market – but it doesn’t always come easy.

There is now a way for entry-level candidates and recent PR grads to distinguish themselves in the market: the new PRK (public relations knowledge) exam. Developed by the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) after extensive research with industry, students and educators, the exam measures knowledge of the field, as well as qualities employers told CPRS they need most from new hires: writing skills, judgement and workplace readiness. The exam debuted last year and is now offered in 10 Canadian cities.   It’s done on line, but from a proctored site in each city. In Montreal, the site is one of the computer labs in the McGill Continuing Studies Building at 688 Sherbrooke St. W.

Senior students and graduates with less than two years’ experience who want to take the PRK exam can check out the CPRS website. For a more detailed story, see the recorded presentation (which can be watched on Slideshare to speed it up). There is a preparation package for those with little PR background, but high-scoring graduates of the McGill programs should not have much difficulty. You do not have to be a CPRS member to write the exam.

Nationwide public relations entry-level exam comes to Montreal

Employers in consulting firms, industry and government frequently receive 150 or more CVs for every entry-level position they open.  Do you think they read them all? Would you?  As they’ve told CPRS (the Canadian Public Relations Society), they don’t have the time. Instead, they quickly look for things that distinguish the best applicants.  What are those? Good writing skills and workplace readiness, and good judgement. These, along with basic public relations knowledge, are tested in the newly developed Public Relations Knowledge (PRK) Exam. It was created by CPRS after two years of consultation with students, educators and employers. Students and recent graduates who pass it will stand out from the pack as people who are ready to be hired.

Saturday, May 11 is the date when applicants across Canada will have a chance to write the PRK Exam, on line, from proctored locations in several Canadian cities, including, for the first time, Montreal. (In English only this time around). McGill is providing a computer lab at 688 Sherbrooke West for anyone wanting to take on this challenge.

CPRS membership is not required to write the PRK Exam. It is open to everyone, whether you are a student, a recent
graduate or a new entrant to the public relations profession. The deadline to register for the exam is Wednesday, May 8, 2013. Click on the embedded links for more info.

New tool to identify “ace” candidates for entry-level PR jobs

Just heard that Edelman PR’s Toronto branch gets between 95 and 120 CVs per month from entry-level candidates – – for between one and three positions! And they’re not the only ones. We hear the same thing from firms in Montreal and other cities. Public relations and communications management is a growing field – which means growing competition for good jobs. I’m glad to say many of our graduates do very well in the job market – but it doesn’t always come easy.

There is now a way for entry-level candidates and recent PR grads to distinguish themselves in the market: the new PRK (public relations knowledge) exam. Developed by the Canadian Pubic Relations Society (CPRS) after extensive research with industry, students and educators, the exam measures knowledge of the field, as well as qualities employers told CPRS they need most from new hires: writing skills, judgement and workplace readiness. After a pilot project in Calgary last fall, the exam debuts this month – January 26 to be precise – in five Canadian cities.  (Montreal is not anong them but will probably be added next time.) It’s done on line, but from a proctored site in each city.

Graduates wiith less than two years’ experience who want to take the PRK exam can check out the CPRS website. For a more detailed story, see the recorded presentation (which can be watched on Slideshare to speed it up). There is a preparation package for those with little PR background, but graduates of the McGill programs should not have much difficulty.

Good career tips for PR students

Jackson Wightman who produces the blog Proper Propaganda, takes on old stereotypes about public relations and turns them around, in both the name of his firm/blog and his own title: Minister of Propaganda. (I admit to having had a quick intake of breath when I first saw it!) His focus will be of interest to students and recent grads looking to produce publicity results without the budget of a major corporation. He also mentioned our programs in his recent blog, where he gives some useful tips for people wanting to start a career in the public relations/communications field.

New Canadian on-line PR/communication journal – free

The professional communication world has a new interdisciplinary, peer reviewed journal for practitioners, journalists, artists, policy makers and academics to exchange ideas. The Journal of Professional Communication (JPC) publishes case studies, interviews, research articles, works of digital media art and sound, works of design and commentary. Really relevant stuff for our instructors, students and recent grads.

Crises and digital media

A great opportunity for all instructors and students to bone up on how digital media are changing the way we handle crises in organizations: IABC is hosting an international webinar on November 3 at the Café des Beaux-Arts. Special student rates as usual – and good networking.

Is the RACE formula outdated?

This is a translation of the title of Mathieu Sauvé’s recent contribution to the SQPRP blog. (Your humble servant posted an article on September 21.) Mathieu, who recently completed his MA in PR-Communications at UQAM, enjoys stirring the pot when it comes to PR theory. His post is part of a series aimed at sparking debate on the profession at a time when it is undergoing profound changes.

Pan-Canadian standards for new graduates?

As part of a new series, “Regards RP”. designed to spark debate on professional issues, yours truly posted a blog item on the SQPRP’s blog. As background to this, CPRS (and its American counterparts represented on the UAB – Universal Acceditation Board) are in the process of developing a standard certification process for recent graduates in public relations. Initial surveys showed broad student support for this process, which would kick-start new members’ progress towards professional accreditation — the APR.  More news to follow as the discussion continues within CPRS.

Mirador has everyone talking

Public relations/communications people across Quebec are talking, writing and blogging about the new Radio-Canada series, Mirador. Set in a large, Montreal-based public relations consulting firm, it raised fears months in advance in our profession about the way the consultants might be presented — i.e., as flacks and spin doctors.

While at least one of the characters is a sleazebucket beyond even the most cynical journalist’s dreams, it has turned out not to be the total hatchet job many of us feared. Still, I wouldn’t recommend any of the tactics used if you want to pass the Ethics course!

Members of the SQPRP are using the opportunity to create more public conversations about public relations practice. The SQPRP’s RP.COM web page has messages, blog posts and links to recent articles that provide thoughtful reflections on our practice and how it is seen from the outside, as well as response from the show’s writers. Highly recommended reading.

Catch the show on Wednesday evenings at 9.

Spin Doctors? I don’t think so!

Richard Edelman has a blog worth following at http://www.edelman.com/speak_up/blog/. A recent post concerned yet another journalist, Jeff Jarvis  in this case, who in his new book questions the motives of public relations people because we are paid by clients and employers. I’ve posted a strongly-worded comment on the post, as have several other PR professionals. This is an ongoing debate, one with which our students should be familiar, and in which our instructors and colleagues should be vocal.  Attitudes are changing, but sometimes they need a little push!

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