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Young PR Pros: episode #1 (the pilot)

Kristine Simpson kicks off the pilot episode of Young PR Pros with a little talk of using social media as a student to connect with potential employers.

Kristine is joined by guest host Julia Kent and MSVU student, Sarah Bustard. Sarah shares her experience using social media to connect and learn from public relations and communications professionals across Canada.

Kristine and Julia use Sarah’s experience to discuss tips and suggestions on everything from homemade social media business cards to social media presence and professionalism.

PR Word of the Week #30: Accreditation

ABC beside a person’s name does not mean they are certified to sing the alphabet. On the contrary, it means they are accredited PR or communications professionals with the International Association of Business Communicators.

There are various accredited titles you can acquire from a variety of societies. But, my big question is what does it mean to be accredited? And what is the value for a professional to become accredited?

But first, what is accreditation.



Accreditation is a process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented.

But, what does it really mean?

PR and communications professionals can sign up for an accreditation program. Accredited members practicing around the world apply the same strategic management process in all communication disciplines, across diverse cultures, and in for-profit and nonprofit organizations of all sizes.

The peer-reviewed program challenges candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of strategic communication planning, implementation, measurement and ethics. Candidates who meet all requirements earn the designation of accredited professionals.

Depending on the program, there exist different rules and regulations to becoming an accredited professional. However, the majority of programs require you to submit your resume, a portfolio and to complete an exam.

Some programs can take up to a year to complete.

If you are interested in reading more about accreditation here are three organizations that do accreditations:

The benefits of being an accredited professional

Here are just a few accreditation is important:

  1. Promotes lifelong learning: keep your mind active and your skills sharp by reminding yourself of the PR and communications standards and practices you learnt in school.
  2. Career Enhancement: more and more, organizations and corporations are demanding and seeking out public relations professionals who can deliver.
  3. Positive image for public relations: accreditation promotes the positive image of public relations by promoting an ethical standard of doing business.
  4. Boost your confidence: undergoing the accreditation process has been known to increase confidence and enhance credibility in the workplace.
  5. Bragging rights: It is nice to show off the great work you have done and are still capable of doing.

PR Word of the Week #29: Socialnomics

We all know the social media wave is here to stay. As a company you either learn to swim or drown. The big change lately is social media ROI. Businesses across the world rack their brain with methods on measuring social media. Welcome to the age of socialnomics.


noun defines it as:

The value created and shared via social media and its efficient influence on outcomes [economic, political, relational, etc.].
Simply put: Word of Mouth on Digital Steroids!

The proof of Socialnomics

  • Dell sold $3,000,000 worth of computers on Twitter.
  • 37% of Generation Y were aware of the Ford Fiesta before its launch in the United States.
  • Wetpaint/Altimeter Study found companies that are both deeply and widely engaged in social media significantly surpass their peers in both revenue$ and profit$. The study also found the company sales with the highest levels of social media activity grew on average by +18%, while those companies with the least amount of social activity saw their sales decline -6%.

We can spend a lifetime trying to build a tool that will measure each Tweet, Like and post in dollars and cents, or we can just see the results right in from of our faces. Companies who engage in social media properly are, simply put, successful.

“You can’t buy attention anymore. Having a huge budget doesn’t mean anything in social media…The old media paradigm was PAY to play. Now you get back what you authentically put in. You’ve got to be willing to PLAY to play.”

— Co-Chairman Alex Bogusky of Crispin Porter & Bogusky

All the statistics and quotes came from this remarkable video about socialnomics provided by

PR Word of the Week #28: March Madness

Fear not public relations and communications professionals eager to learn the definitions of popular words used in our industry. After a two-week holiday in sunny and warm Nicaragua, I am back and defining the words you know and love.

I thought is was relevant this week to define a word I love and hate at the same time. It means big money, but it also means reduced free time. That word is March Madness.

March Madness

(märCH ˈmadnəs)

When suddenly your PR friend disappears from the earth, and that includes social media: that is March Madness. When you leave the office at 8 p.m. and you are not the last to leave: that is March Madness. When you have your yearly mental breakdown: that is March Madness.

March Madness is the bane of our existence in PR. Profit margins shoot through the roof and in one month companies make up for every single slow day of the year. With more money; however, comes more work and more stress.

Why March?

PR and communications professionals work hard all year round. What makes March so different? The answer is simple, it is the end of the year, the fiscal year that is. At the end of the fiscal year, governments, associations and organizations need to wrap things up financially to ensure a clean start for the new fiscal year. In a lot of cases, this means spending that last bit of budget left or finishing up any outstanding projects. All needs to be wrapped up by March 31.

Use the 3 Rs to help you survive March Madness

During this month of madness, make sure you don’t forget to relax, rest and ride the wave.

It is important to nip that stress right in the butt when it starts. Relax, everything will be okay. You will finish your project on time and the world won’t come to an end. Stress is infectious and can cause an entire team to panic. Panic is a productivity killer. So when you feel stressed take a five minute walk and relax.

With a lack of sleep, weird eating patterns and stress, illness comes easy. So, make sure you get your rest. Sleep will help you get rejuvenated. You will think clearer and work more productively.

And finally, ride the wave. March Madness is inevitable. So take advantage of the interesting projects you may be working on. Learn from your mistakes and find out your limits.

So, if you have a PR or communications professional in your life, make sure to be extra kind and helpful during this season of madness.

And, to all my PR and communications buddies out there: Good luck and happy March Madness!

PR Word of the Week #27: A recap of ‘My favourite PR Word’ series

I have been truly lucky during these last couple of weeks. I feel honoured and very lucky to have had the opportunity to host some big names on my blog. In the past month I have asked PR professionals to define their favourite PR word.

Here are some awesome words defined by the great minds in PR and communications:

Publicist – as defined by Martin Waxman

Integration – as defined by Gini Dietrich

Relationship – as defined by Sherrilynne Starkie

Content – as defined by Hao Nguyen

If you are interested in defining your own PR word to be featured on PR Word of the Week, send me a quick note

Next week, I am back to defining relevant and prominent words used in the PR, communications and social media industry and realm. Don’t miss the next PR Word of the Week. We are going mobile with the definition of mobile marketing.

PR Word of the Week #31: Mobile Marketing

According to a Globe and Mail article on Smartphone users in Canada, about 45 per cent of Canada’s wireless subscribers use smartphones. Rogers, Bell and Telus have seen roughly a 10 per cent decrease in voice minutes. Users are migrating from using their mouths to using their fingers to communicate. Public relations and communications professionals need to meet them there, which makes mobile marketing an important aspect to future campaigns.

Mobile Marketing

The term mobile marketing is used as an umbrella term to cover all the aspects of delivering or receiving information with your target audience through a mobile device.

The Mobile Marketing Association defines it as:

Mobile Marketing is a set of practices that enables organizations to communicate and engage with their audience in an interactive and relevant manner through any mobile device or network.

Communicating in an “interactive manner” can be through:

  • QR Codes
  • Mobile apps
  • SMS and MMS messaging (or text messaging)
  • Location based services (such as GPS)
  • In-game marketing
  • Mobile web/advertising

Case studies

  1. Route 66 Harley-Davidson Revs Up with SMS Promotion: Read up how a Harley-Davidson dealership increased sales through their 12 days of Christmas mobile campaign.
  2. JC Penney QR Codes Let You Add Voice Message to Gifts: JC Penney decided to put a spin on QR Codes. J.C. Penney shoppers received a “Santa Tag” sticker with each purchase during the holiday season. The tags contain individualized QR codes that can be scanned with any QR code reader to record a personalized voice message. Gift recipients can, in turn, scan the codes to hear the recorded voice message when they open their gifts.
  3. Fiat’s Street Evo iPhone App: To promote the new Fiat Punto Evo to a tech savy target market Fiat came up with a mobile app that treats road signs like QR Codes. Scanning signs would give users more information about features of the new Fiat. However, Fiat knew the tech savy audience wouldn’t want to just read a catalogue, so they hid prizes in certain traffic signs. Week one of the campaign saw over one million hits.

More case studies of great mobile marketing can be found in this list of 2011 Winners of the Effective Mobile Marketing Awards.

PR Word of the Week #26: @Hao_Nguyen’s favourite PR Word

Today’s guest blog post is by Hao Nguyen. Hao is proof that if you work hard and put yourself out there you can succeed at anything. Hao and I met through good ‘ol Twitter. Despite being on opposite ends of the world, Hao and I were both students of PR and were both excited to meet interesting people in our industry. Hao is an account coordinator at Expresso Communications and is also currently completing his Bachelor of Communications (public relations) at Griffith University in Sydney Australia. You can catch him blogging about public relations and interviewing PR Pros on his blog: That PR Dude.

My favourite PR word: Content

There used to be a time when PR mainly meant media relations, i.e. you have a story that you push, you send out a press release to your media contacts and hope that you’ll be able to score some coverage. I’m exaggerating a little here, but that was the gist of it.

Nowadays, with so many platforms, channels and publishing tools widely available, PR professionals no longer have to just rely on the media to get their story out; they can also create their own content. Don’t get me wrong, media relations and press releases will always be important to PR, but now with creating your own content being so simple and mostly free, it allows the PR industry to really take hold of a story and run with it.
Shoot and upload a video, snap and share some photos, publish a blog post, create a podcast. All these things can now be done so easily. Then you’ve got channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Quora, etc., where you can just as easily distribute content.

It’s such a cliché isn’t it – “content is king.” But how else can you describe it?



Something that is to be expressed through some medium, as speech, writing, or any of various arts: a poetic form adequate to a poetic content.


Okay, so long story short – I was a university student, working part-time at a place I hated, looking to jump into my PR career as soon as possible. So to put a little spark in my job search, I decided to start up a blog where I wrote about my thoughts on the communications industry.

Slowly I built up my blog, reaching out and interviewing PR professionals, getting their perspectives on a range of topics until one day, one of the people I interviewed offered me an internship. Three months later I’m working as an Account Coordinator for her agency.

There wasn’t an application form, cover letter or resume – just one little blog with a steady stream of content and it scored me a job.

So for the PR students out there job hunting – don’t sit there and send out resumes while waiting for the phone to miraculously ring. Get out there, set up a YouTube channel, set up a podcast, build a blog, start a portfolio of writing samples – just keep churning out content and show potential employers how proactive you are.

I couldn’t have said it better myself Hao!

PR Word of the Week #25: @Sherrilynne’s favourite PR Word

Today’s guest blog post is by Sherrilynne Starkie. Not only is Sherrilynne an amazing coworker, but she is also a mentor and someone I look up to. Sherrilynne is an Account Director at Thornley Fallis and a recognised expert in social media. She is a well-known newspaper columnist, blogger and a public speaker. She is the founder of the Isle of Man’s Social Media Club and is on Twitter’s PR top 100 according to TweetLevel.

My favourite PR word: Relationship

I am always reminding clients and colleagues that the ‘R’ in PR stands for relationships. When someone asks me what I do for a living, I say that I help organizations create and foster positive relationships with individuals and groups of people that they depend upon for success. Depending how bored the questioner looks at this point, I might go on to say, this could include customers, shareholders, employees, unions, people in the community etc.

For me this is absolutely fundamental to those of us in public relations, and it’s often forgotten or overlooked. Instead of looking at whether or not we’ve created new positive relationships, improved others, limited damage on still others , we seem to be focused on getting hits, clicks, friends and followers.

Yes, relationships start with creating awareness so PR professionals spend a lot of time working with the news media, but we are not all about column inches or web hits. Yes, we are ‘good with people’, but we possess a range of hard skills and experience that we put to good use meaning we are too busy to spend our days (and nights) networking and ‘doing lunch’.

Organizations are all about people. People are all about relationships. That’s why PR is at the heart of every successful organization, public or private, large or small.

Here’s my definition.



  1. A connection, association or involvement
  2. A connection between persons
  3. An emotional connection


I’ve never heard of your brand. I don’t know your company. None of my friends use your products. Why would I buy from you? (no relationship)
I’ve heard good things about you. I’ve bought your products in the past. Everyone in my neighbourhood is excited about the new retail outlet you’re building nearby. When do you open? I can’t wait! (positive relationship).

So what do you think? How important are relationships in your agency/organization? Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below.

PR Word of the Week #24: @GiniDietrich’s favourite PR Word

Today’s guest blog post is by Gini Dietrich. Gini is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, the author of Spin Sucks, the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Spin Sucks Pro, and is co-authoring Marketing In the Round with Geoff Livingston

My favorite PR word: Integration

Alright, alright. My word is totally selfish. After all, Geoff Livingston and I have an entire book coming out in May on the topic. But integration is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity.

I moved to Chicago in 2000 to join an advertising agency that was thinking ahead and wanted to integrate public relations into their overall strategies. They decided the best way to do that was to build a PR department within their four walls.

It was a difficult transition. The creative directors thought our jobs were to “tell the media about the newest client advertising campaign.” It wasn’t real integration as we felt like we were the redheaded stepchildren and they felt like we were imposing on their turf.

Then the 9/11 tragedy enveloped the United States, the tech bubble burst, and everyone retreated to their separate discipline corners.

Now, some 11 years and the worst economy our country has seen since the Great Depression, it’s time to break down the silos once and for all.

Following is my definition.




To develop the art of integration, you have to break down the silos; give up the budget fights, turf wars, control, and stop holding on to knowledge for perceived power.

The only way to succeed in the future – to best serve your customers, to become an investment in the company’s growth – is to integrate the marketing and communication disciplines.

Integration looks like a wheel instead of a typical hierarchy. Marketing is the hub. The spokes are made up of the marketing and communication disciplines. They circle simultaneously.


Typically, the chief marketing officer is the link among all the disciplines; he or she hires specialists from each field and weaves them together, ensuring they are acting to achieve the company’s larger objectives of sales, brand reputation, hiring, employee retention, and more.

Job security is in short supply for chief marketing officers because companies aren’t measuring the right results – they’re seeing the department as an expense instead of an investment

The chief marketing officer typically stays on the job for 29 months. In 2010, 42 months was the longest tenure recorded in six years, when Spencer Stuart began monitoring for this role. But just more than two years is typical. Which is why breaking down the silos is so difficult.

The chief marketing officer will hire web, public relations, corporate communication, search, and advertising professionals, but rarely do they interact with one other. They each are comfortable in silos, doing what they know best.

Because of the lack of integration across disciplines, the advertising professional may think public relations only does media relations. The public relations professional may think search is all black hat. And search may think direct mail is old, stodgy, and ineffective. The disciplines don’t know what the others are doing, which don’t work in integration.

Integration at your company may mean the death of the title of “chief marketing officer.” There will be a leader, but who that person is will change, based on the campaign or company goal you’re focused on.

What do you think? Is integration going to happen and forever break down the silos?


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