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Student-Alumni Career Workshop March 15 – Save the date!


The big day is almost here! McGill Public Relations Student and Alumni Network has put together an amazing roster of speakers and sessions for the 2014 edition of their half-day networking and educational event featuring public relations industry leaders.

It’s called “From the classroom to the boardroom”.  Speakers include

  • Bruno Guglielminetti (Mr. Social Media in Quebec) now at Just For Laughs, on keeping your social media profile in good shape
  • John Crean, National Managing Partner of NATIONAL Public Relations, who’s flying in from Toronto especially for the event, on the Top 5 Mistakes beginners make in agencies, and the myths and realities of working in the corporate vs. the agency world
  • Elisabeth, La tête chercheuse, a top-notch recruiter to advise on CVs and interviews
  • Representatives from the SQPRP and from IABC to network with.


DATE:    Saturday, March 15

TIME:    10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

PLACE: Montreal office of NATIONAL Public Relations, in the Sun Life Building – 1155 Metcalfe, suite 800)

COST: Only $15. A light lunch will be served. (McGill PR students and grads only, please.)

Please register in advance as space is limited and security at the Sun Life Building requires a full list of attendees in order to allow you entry into the building.  Register at https://cce.mcgill.ca/cce_shop/main_menu.asp?forms=prcareerworkshop&dept=cms&lang=EN


Public Relations Knowledge (PRK) Exam

The field of public relations and communications management is growing fast – and with it, the numbers of people graduating from PR&CM programs every year. Candidates for the best entry-level spots need to distinguish themselves – and employers need to identify the best candidates for their teams. That’s why the PRK (Public Relations Knowledge) exam was developed by the Canadian Public Relations Society. It’s written twice a year in 10 cities across Canada by recent graduates and young practitioners who want to move their CVs to the top of the growing pile.

For more information, click “more…”


Social Media Insight – Round table discussion

On Monday November 11th 2013, the McGill Writing Centre will bring together students, faculty and industry insiders in the fields of web design and consultation, social media strategy and networking and marketing and communication for a round-table discussion on the rapidly evolving world of social media.

Facilitated by Nancy A. Locke, who teaches the MWC’s course on Writing for Digital Media, this event provides an opportunity for participants to gain insight into how design, communication, and marketing principles shape our social media encounters, and to raise questions about the role of social media in our private and public lives.

For information on how to register, click “more…”


Networking Event with IABC and MACES

Help kick start your career by coming to the networking event hosted by MACES along with IABC  this coming Friday October 4th from 5:30 to 8:30 at the Thompson House.


Career Workshop moved to fall

The Student and Alumni Network Career Workshop has been moved from spring to fall 2013. More news as plans develop – watch this space.  BTW, this frees up Saturday, May 11 for students interested in writing the new PRK exam. (See April 18 post.) Let Elizabeth know if you are interested and check out the PRK website for further details. Deadline to register: May 8.

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.

Course on writing for digital media

People who want to hone your writing for the web, blogs, social media, etc., here’s your chance. Starting April 25, the McGill Writing Centre  (MWC) is offering a six-week course on writing for digital media, in collaboration with the Personal and Cultural Enrichment Program of the School of Continuing Studies. The lecturer is veteran presenter Nancy A. Locke, a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. See the MWC website for further information or call 514-398-7109.

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)

Free webinar on Google +

If you’re not already an IABC member, here’s one good reason to join. . .


Update: I just registered – you don’t have to be a member to attend the webinar.

Reminder: SQPRP Event This Weekend!

The annual SQPRP Young Professionals event is happening this Saturday! It’s taking place at the Hyatt Hotel this September 24th from 9:00 AM t0 4:30 PM. 

This year’s theme is ‘Public Relations and Strategic Visions’. Topics will include corporate social responsibility, social media, and the future of the PR profession.  

You still have time to register at SQPRP Colloque Annuel. Students get a discounted registration fee of $75. 

If you cannot make it for the conference portion, try to attend the PRMixer Cocktail at 4:30 PM.

Have fun and network!

The must-know formulas (continued): Take it from the pros.

Take it from the pros: finding success is simpler than you think! Pfizer President and CEO Paul Lévesque (DipMgt’92) used his time during the McGill Young Alumni networking event this past May to introduce the easy-to-use formula he used to find success in his professional life.

“Attitude + Aptitude = Altitude”

Lévesque credits the courses he completed at the School of Continuing Studies (SCS) with helping him to develop the “soft” skills necessary for his successful career in the pharmaceutical industry. He highlighted a trend that is spreading behind job recruiters’ closed doors: hiring for attitude. Although technical aptitude (or “hardware”) is important, Lévesque revealed that companies are taking a candidate’s “attitude” or “software” into great (or even greater) consideration. He used, as an example, a capacity to be open to (or an agent of) change and continuous improvement, which is a critical soft skill—especially in environments that are re-organizing bi-annually, and it is a skill that is extremely difficult to teach. A potential employee’s attitude is a reflection of personal values, “teach-ability”, and work ethic.

Vouching from personal experience and having traveled the corporate ladder form account manager to CEO, Lévesque affirms that the strength of such “software” is indicative of a candidate’s likelihood of professional success and advancement. And a culture of innovation is a key requirement for business success.

So, the attitude you want to project is a confident and a capable one. The only way to get the confidence needed to make a great impression is by… (drum roll please!) working hard and being prepared.

What’s luck got to do with it?

Armed with a Ph.D. in Political Science, Monica Trevino quickly became an unhappy university professor. She realized very quickly that she would need to take her transferable research and analytical skills out of higher education and into a different field. She considers herself very fortunate that opportunities at Universalia, a non-profit that is focused on business management solutions in the public and private sector, came her way. With a combination of lucky factors (of being the right candidate, at the right place and time that talked to the right person), Trevino eventually became a Senior Consultant for this international firm.

Check in later this week for the last installment of the must-know formulas!

The must-know formulas: success taught by the pros

There’s no easy solution for starting or re-orienting your career. Fortunately, there are seasoned professionals who offer their guidance to those who are looking for an “in” to the job market and those who have outgrown their roles along their career path.

In the spirit of sharing valuable experiences and lessons-learned, the McGill Young Alumni networking event held at the Omni Hotel earlier this month featured a lineup of four exceptional McGill grads who revealed the best-kept secrets of their successful careers. If you missed the event, you’ll certainly benefit from the evening’s takeaways, starting with the answer to an age-old mystery: how does someone acquire professional success?

It’s as simple as 1-2-3!”

In Brigitte Simard‘s words (Client Partner, Korn/Ferry Int’l), success is the result of some simple steps. This search firm executive attributes her career success to pursuing her passion, honing in on her transferable skill set (which she refined from school and a variety of work experiences), and many years of networking with professionals in her industry of choice.

Performing these three steps seems simple, yet they demand determination, resourcefulness, and taking risks, which isn’t that easy.

More on this next week, but in the meantime, enjoy your weekend!

Learn about entertainment publicity with Bon Jovi May 4! UPDATED

A great opportunity for students interested in entertainment publicity and promotion. Bon Jovi has invited a group of McGill PR students to join the crew on the day of the May 4 concert here in Montreal. You’ll spend the day helping to set up for the concert, shadowing and talking with the crew that makes it all happen, including the head of PR for the band. You’ll follow this up by watching the concert. All you have to do in return?  Submit a report to the Bon Jovi people that they will use in their own publicity. (It’s a community relations thing. One of their giving-back-to-the-community projects is contributing to education.) Click on this link for a sample of follow-up publicity at Penn State.

Sound interesting? Get hold of Elizabeth.hirst@mcgill.ca as soon as possible. If we have too many applicants, the winners will be selected by a short note they will write me on how this experience will fit into their career plans.

UPDATE: Yes, too many applicants. Everyone who contacted me by April 15 has been sent instructions for a one-pager to be written and submitted by midnight Tuesday, April 19. If you didn’t get it, contact me.  If you are reading this after midnight, April 19, sorry — next time.

SQPRP conference re-scheduled – September 24

For those awaiting news of Parle parle, jase jase, the annual conference put on by the SQPRP’s Jeunes professionnels, originally scheduled for March 19:  A note came in from Cynthia Woo of the Jeunes professionnels(incidentally, one of our own certificate students) announcing that it has been re-scheduled for September 24. Save the date, folks!

Webinar pilot project – ridiculously cheap for students

A new webinar series, on the theme Crisis Communications and Corporate Culture, starts off February 16 from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. —

Corporate cultural strategies for preventing and surviving crises

Speaker: Rhonda O’Gallagher, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, Pfizer Canada Inc.

While it’s priced at $69 for individual registrants from outside McGill, students can participate live for $10 and instructors for $49. To sign up, go to student link or staff/graduate link. Series discounts are also available for students and staff/instructors/graduates.

Some students were exposed to Rhonda’s clear, engaging manner in the Cases/Communication Planning course last term). For full details on this and future webinars, see the page called “webinar project winter 2011” at right.

 The project, now in its pilot stages, was put together by a small group including instructors Charles Pitts, Buzz Gibbs and Elizabeth Hirst. The idea is to make hour-long sessions on topics of interest available to students at a low price and to build up a bank of podcasts that will be available for instructors to use in courses. The series is also open to practising professionals at a single webinar or series price and to CPRS and IABC Montreal members at “partner” prices.

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