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A Keen New Cohort of McGill PR Students


PR is an emerging communication field like no other. Organizations are held to account faster and more strictly than ever before and communication recipients have the power to shift and shape the narrative. image3Growing social desire for accountability has begun to put a price on public opinion. This may be one explanation for the rise in the prevalence of PR practitioners.

McGill’s School of Continuing Studies PR program offers a comprehensive set of complimentary courses for students keen to pursue careers in the field. The benefit of the program lays in the hands-on approach, which many students welcome warmly as it offers a refreshing change from academic undergraduate study. The course also sprinkles in theory to substantiate approaches to case-based problem solving.

After some digging, it became clear that the new McGill PR cohort of 2016 comes from a diverse range of backgrounds—England, Ontario, Lebanon, Syria, Haiti, and France to name a few! Studying in Montréal has helped many students learn a great deal from the hard-truths of PR culture in Canada and the challenges that we must face as professionals.

This year’s students seek to leverage their academic credentials to careers in political PR, government relations, corporate PR, digital media, internal PR, external PR, event management, investor relations, and even campaign management. The program brings a new set of challenges to the table such as refining our communication and honing our internal thesauri. One student praised the program saying that “it makes you recognize the importance of careful wording and how sometimes not speaking carries a message as effective as speaking continuously.” Another student commented on how the learning environment provides a unique opportunity to brainstorm and problem solve real-world case studies.

The course provides candid perspectives on the need for greater accountability, transparency, and ethics in an increasingly disillusioned world from professionals who speak from the heart. Not only this, several guest lecturers have come to McGill to talk to students about their experiences in the PR world. Just a few weeks ago, the President of IABC Montréal, Maria Constantinescu delivered an insightful lecturer on ethics. Now that’s what real-life learning is all about! Maria even invited students to get onboard and help her organize one of IABC’S upcoming events. But more on that later… ; )

Check out our upcoming blog posts to keep up-to- date with upcoming events, student projects, and exciting internships. Keep your eyes peeled as members of the McGill PR class will be running an event for the International Association of Business Communicators in Montreal come November. We’ll also be keeping you posted with the latest news on Twitter and LinkedIn!

Cheers, Nic & Amy




CheersCongratulations to The McGill PR Grad Students for producing such a remarkable event last month! It was a beautiful evening at the sumptuous Mayfair Cocktail Bar as over 130 guests enjoyed specialty cocktails, delicious bites, and a riveting raffle with amazing prizes (like tea at the Ritz!).

Check out photo booth pictures from Studio Zoetropia

Didn’t make it to the event? Check out the Facebook page with all of the cool prizes you could have won!

Of course, the evening of revelry was all for a good cause as proceeds from ticket sales and raffle ticket purchases went to benefit Le Chainon, a Montreal based women’s shelter. Reports from organisers indicate that the event raised over $5,000 for the charity, more than double its original goal.

Well done to all!

Read more about Mixing & Mingling project

About Le Chainon
Our mission is to help Le Chainon, a Montreal based women’s shelter that welcomes and offers assistance to women in crisis. The shelter has been helping women since 1932 and has made it its mission to provide guidance, assistance, shelter and security to women in need and to them regain their independence. Le Chainon helps hundreds of women every year and is dedicated to providing unconditional hospitality 365 days a year. For more information visit: http://www.lechainon.org/

The whole new ballgame of social media

Jack Layton debating with Stephen Harper

H+K VP Brad Lavigne recently contributed to Policy Magazine with an article that takes a closer looks at how social media is changing the political game. Former director of communications and principal secretary to the late Jack Layton, Brad looks back to 2011 debate highlights and looks forward to how social media will further evolve political campaigns in Canada—especially for the upcoming 2015 election.


McGill PR Students Exhibit Strong – and Ethical – Crisis Communication Skills

The following guest post is written by Melissa Agnes who reflects on her experience with McGill PR students

I recently had the opportunity to teach a 3 hour course to Victoria Pickering’s Ethics in PR class at McGill University. Giving guest lectures is something I do regularly onMelissa Agnes at a speaking engagement different topics that derive from the subject of crisis management, but I have to say that this particular experience is one that will stay with me.

 The class as a whole demonstrated a profound understanding of what it means to communicate ethically in a crisis.

The 30+ students in this #PREthics771 class were perceptive, engaging and hungry for knowledge. Through our discussion of today’s crisis realities, and our examination of real-world crises, including the current Ebola crisis and Malaysia Airlines’s crises of 2014, the class as a whole demonstrated a profound understanding of what it means to communicate ethically in a crisis.


Student tribute to teachers

The April 14 meeting of PRCM instructors and student/alumni representatives saw a record turnout and lots of food contributions from committee members. The most welcome contribution came in the form of a tribute from Certificate rep Renate Betts: a huge cake reading, “You are all star McGill professors”.  Elizabeth Hirst made the first cut on behalf of the teaching staff. BTW, there were lots of great ideas discussed, laying the groundwork for innovations and improvements in the program. Stay tuned!



IABC student membership benefits


2014 is going to be a very exciting year! IABC Newsletter

IABC/Montreal Chapter wins Award

Our chapter started this year with the excited honour of winning the Chapter Management Award for student involvement during the IABC 2014 Executive Leadership Seminar in New Orleans, Louisiana.

“Montreal’s many student chapter members make valuable contributions throughout the year working alongside our professional and corporate members and we our proud to serve them at this award winning level” (more…)

Student orientation a success thanks to two of our own

Congratulations to Anna Gorkova and Stephanie Denizard, both of whom have just finished the Certificate program. They have been instrumental from the start in getting the School’s new student orientation event off the ground and into the air. Last night, new Continuing Studies students from all areas were introduced to Client Services, Library Services, the McGill Writing Centre,  Career Planning and, of course, to MACES, the McGill Association of Continuing Education Students, in an effective combination of engaging presentations and “speed-dating”.

Anna is the newly elected president of MACES – great visibility for the PR&CM programs. This is Stephanie’s final contribution to McGill (and they have been many) before she starts a new chapter of her life Down Under.  Bon voyage et bon succès, Stephanie!

Support our universities

Most of our students are going to be sitting in much larger classes come this fall, having fewer courses to choose from, and taking longer to finish their programs. This is all due to the draconian last-minute budget cuts imposed by the Quebec government. And there will be more next year.

If you want to make your voice heard, and care about the quality of education, check out #sosuniversites to “stand up for universities”. This blogger has never seen such unanimity among students, professors, librarians, teaching assistants, administrative staff and so many other sectors. Earlier this afternoon, #sosuniversités is now trending in #Montreal http://trendsmap.com/ca/montreal.

Life, the Universe, and Everything: A Real Life Q&A with your Student Representative

Contributed by Amanda Fritz

As a student representative for McGill’s Certificate of Public Relations program, I get asked a lot of questions. Last week, I was approached by a number of students with similar concerns about the ‘when’ and ‘why’ of how courses are offered in the certificate program. So off I went to see our program’s (infinitely) wise coordinator, Elizabeth Hirst, for some answers.

While I’ve already reported back personally to these students, we’ve decided to publicize this recent Q&A to help spread the word to others who might be similarly curious.

Q1) Has there been any discussion about holding more classes on the weekend, in addition to the few that are currently offered, for students whose work schedules don’t allow them to make a 6 pm start?

A1) We’re glad to hear that there’s interest in Saturday courses because Event Management (CPRL 228) is scheduled on Saturdays next fall. Because there are a finite number of teachers and classrooms available to McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, and because you don’t want to offer too many different classes on the same night of the week, it makes a lot of sense to offer this elective on the weekend. If it does well, there may be more Saturday classes. Holding classes on Saturday might also help out students who absolutely want to finish the program with the one-year track, though there is some hesitation to put core courses on weekends for those who absolutely can’t make it.

Q2) Is there any possibility of modifying the program timetable so that students beginning the certificate in winter could complete the required courses within a year (the way students who begin in fall can)?

A2) Your program administrators have turned their brains inside out trying to figure out a one-year track for students who start in winter. Right now, there just isn’t a way to fit everything in. We’re working on getting the go ahead to give some core courses more than once a year, which should help, as should having some courses given on Saturdays. Rest assured that we’re trying very hard to find a way to give winter-start students a possible one-year track.

Q3) Can I complete three undergraduate certificates and receive a Bachelor’s degree?

A3) Yes and no. In Québec it’s only the French language universities that will award you a bachelor’s degree in exchange for completing three certificates. This means that you need to complete at least two of your three undergraduate certificates at a French language university, with the requirement that you officially apply to do so during your first year of study. The only local exception we know of is Concordia University’s Journalism Program, which offers students the option to combine three journalism certificates into a Journalism BA.  Contact the undergraduate advisors at any of these universities for additional details.

More questions? Comments? Don’t hesitate to contact your program’s student rep!

Certificate program representatives:
Amanda Fritz (amanda.fritz@mcgill.ca)
Christine Tourigny (christine.tourigny@mail.mcgill.ca)

Diploma program representatives:
Anita Cotic (anita.cotic@mail.mcgill.ca)
Rafael Mayor-Mora (rafael.mayor-mora@mail.mcgill.ca)

Registration now open for Fall 2011 Courses

From June 14th to September 1st, registration for the Fall 2011 semester  is now open for PR  program students. Just login to your account through the MyMcGill portal or Minerva for Students to access the course listings and to register.

Required courses that are on offer  for the PR certificate or Diploma programs include: ‘Basics of Public Relations‘, ‘Communication Planning‘,  ‘Cases in Public Relations‘,  ‘Internal Communication‘, ‘Ethics in Public Relations‘, ‘Public Relations Event Management’, and ‘Internal Stakeholder Communication‘.

Also of note, two exciting  courses are available  as electives under the Diploma programs: ‘ CMIS 542: Electronic Marketplaces and Social Media’ and ‘CMIS 530: Web Analytics for Internet Business‘.  These courses focus on information technology and social media – important vehicles for public relations  in the 21st century.

You can find more information about all these courses on the Continuing Education Timetable Page.

Happy registering!

Introducing: 3 new bloggers!

Please welcome three new bloggers, who have just volunteered to help keep our students, alumni and instrucotrs informed about events, resources and opportunities in the public relations and communications field.

You’ll be hearing from Danish Bhaloo and Andrea Wong, both completing the Diploma in PR,  as well as Anita Cotic, Diploma student and one of the student reps to the curriculum sub-committee.  And please feel free to comment on all of our posts!

Make your voice heard

Students, do you have opinions about your courses, instructors, course materials, learning environment? Let us have them! The Mercury course evaluations are your chance to ensure those of us who play a role in maintaining your program know about everything we can do to improve it.

Even if you have no strong opinions, please help your fellow students and instructors out by contributing to the evaluation process. If not enough people provide information, the statistics we gather will not be significant enough to give us any guidance. We need most of every class to respond.

The course evaluation pages are open from November 9 to December 2. (You may want to wait until you have experienced as much of the course as possible before responding.)

It doesn’t take long – just 5 – 10 minutes.  Here’s how:

1.Log in to your MINERVA account
2.A pop-up window will appear to direct you to the course evaluations

Alternate way to access the course evaluations from Minerva: a.Select Student Menu b.Click on Mercury Online Course Evaluation Menu c.Then on Submit your course evaluations. Click on the Course link

Thanks for your contribution to continuing improvement — and your encouragement of what’s working well!

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!

New technology – old cranky habits

Those of us who have dealt with cranky journalists are finding that new technology may bring out the worst in some — see PRWeeks’ news item on http://www.prweekus.com/section/422 — scroll down to item on National Post.  Or take a chance on this long URL — http://www.prweekus.com/National-Post-apologizes-for-reporters-Twitter-outburst/article/127384/

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