Monday, December 11, 2017

Print Design - Own Designs

Hey everyone! Sometimes, when I am at home or on break during class, I like to draw from what we have learned in the Print Design class to come up with some designs of my own. These designs usually make use of basic elements and principles, colour, and so forth.


These are two posters that I started designing for my group's client work about a week or two ago, although we changed our plans before I could finish these so they may look off. I chose blue and white as my colour scheme for both, not only because of their logo but also because blue is a calm colour and the white helps to contrast the details on the poster a little better; I chose dark green text for the first poster for similar reasons.

The images used are from the client's website and were only used as placeholders.

I started working on this one last week, although I am unsure where else to take it. I was inspired by the patterns and designs that one may see on the floors or seats of places like arcades or the cinema. Like the poster designs, I chose blue because it is a calm colour that I figured would make the whole design feel calmer. Relying on shapes, proportion, placement, and lines, I was able to add objects to this design that would stand out without taking away from whatever other objects or text I may want to include in here. The black void with noise even works well as white space, as the detail that is there does not stand out anywhere near as much as the shapes do.

This was a random idea I had a little while back, and it's the oldest design I'm including in this post. I noticed that a lot of my other designs, like the previous three I discussed, tend to be cooler; lots of blue, white and darker colours tend to dominate those designs. It was because of this that I decided to try out a warmer design, and to make it in a way where I could have a blue object that still feels warm, almost like the blue part of a really hot flame. That one purple line even points toward the text in the lower corner, which is fairly insignificant and only exists to complete the design. 

This is my favourite design of the four, although that could be because it is the only one that I completely finished. I feel that it turned out pretty well for the most part!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

CPRS mentorship program

Canadian Public Relations Society Mentorship Program 2017

In early October, Tim introduced the class to CPRS - otherwise known as Canadian Public Relations Society. As a student, only a month into the program who has done little to no networking before, this sounded way too professional for me to partake in. However, Tim also invited Daryl Barnhart, a current member of CPRS and an Accredited Public Relations Professional to speak to our class about the organization and the mentorship program it facilitates each year. Daryl's presentation was convincing, none the less, but I still found myself unsure if I was quite ready and/or confident enough to join. Fast forward a few weeks and I was sitting in an interview for an internship with Niagara Health OneFoundation, where I was yet again told about CPRS and the mentorship program - and how good of a fit I'd be. Finally I gave in and joined as a member of CPRS; I even went a little further and applied to be a mentee in this year's mentorship program.

After very excitingly being chosen as a mentee, I prepared for the first event where I'd meet all the mentors. After spending hours of my afternoon googling each name provided to me and making a list on my phone's notepad of every person and what they've done for the past fifteen years of their life, I headed out. Truthfully, I walked in the front door of the St. Catharines General and still wasn't convinced I belonged at such an event. However, my nerves were eased when I saw two familiar faces - Alana and Kim from class. While waiting for the hosts to come greet us, we all stood in the entryway and talked about a variety of things as other mentees arrived. At one point, another mentee approached the group of us and said; "Are you guys here for CPRS? I assumed so, you all look nice so that's how I know you're PR people." At this comment I laughed, but I also reflected; looking around at the group of people I was with, she wasn't wrong, and I was happy for that.

The speed mentoring event is one I'll never forget. As mentee's, we rotated (much like musical chairs) to sit and spend a strict three minutes with each of the dozen mentors. In that time we were forced to get down to the nitty gritty: why we're here, what we want from it, where we see ourselves in ten years. I made some contacts that I have since been in touch with, and I learned about some industries that I have absolutely no interest in. At the end of the night, each mentee and mentor had to fill out a sheet with our top three selections to be paired with. 

About a week later, I got a email confirming that I had been paired with Andrew, an (at the time) Communications Advisor at the Niagara Region. He is now a Media Communications Advisor for Niagara College. 

Since this time, I have met with Andrew and talked all things PR. He's agreed to compile any interesting work or projects he and/or his team does to bring to each of our get-togethers. As well, we have made plans for me to come and tour his office, as well as accompany him to any events he thinks would be interesting from a communications perspective. In return, I have been compiling my own school notes for him to review - as he believes his schooling was not quite sufficient and is interesting in learning what I am.

All in all, I am interested to see what this year has to bring and what CPRS has to offer me - as well as what I can, now and in the future, offer it. I truly believe that PR, although a great program with Tim in the classroom, is about much more. As future communicators, we will be paid to do exactly that - communicate and have the connections needed, so why not start now?
I would advise any future PR student, or even current PR practitioners to join CPRS and attend their many social and/or networking events. I know it's something I plan to stick with for quite some time.

Monday, December 4, 2017

IABC Gift of Communication

Each year the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) hosts the IABC Gift of Communication. The IABC Gift of Communication is an event where local not-for-profits who are facing communications challenges collaborate with communications professionals and students to work together and develop solutions.

This year I was lucky enough to participate in the event. The local not-for-profit I worked with was the Hamilton Literacy Council, an organization dedicated to assisting adults to improve their literacy skills. Some of the challenges the organization was facing included how to spread their message to a customer base that is non-and reluctant readers, as well as breaking down the stigma associated with needed help with literacy as an adult.

Working with an experienced communications professional and individuals from the organization I was able to learn new things, as well as take what I had been learning in the classroom and apply it to a real-life communications challenge. I think that my time at the IABC Gift of Communications was a valuable experience and I highly recommend it to future students who are offered the opportunity.

Working with Community Clients - Habitat for Humanity Hamilton

When assigning our projects earlier on in the semester, i felt extremely fortunate to be partnering with Habitat for Humanity Hamilton to complete both a Communications Audit and to run a fundraiser. Compared to some of the other non-for-profits that were assigned, it seemed like everyone, including myself had heard of Habitat for Humanity Hamilton and knew exactly what we did.

It wasn't until our first client meeting with Melissa, the communications and marketing head at Habitat, that I realized I hadn't even scratched the surface on what Habitat for Humanity Hamilton does for the community. I think we can all assume that Habitat for Humanity, no matter where they are located, builds houses for people who don't have one. However Melissa informed us that Habitat:

- Has an ongoing mission to work with volunteers and community partners to build affordable housing for people living in the community who are living in bad housing situations
- Promotes home ownership to stop the cycle of poverty
- Lobbies to the government to help create more affordable home options
- Sells items at a "ReStore" that help people living in the community have access to new and used home renovation items
- Offers opportunities to high school students to complete their volunteer hours.

This list is a brief description of what the Hamilton chapter does. The biggest surprise to me is the ReStore. the ReStore is located at the same location of their head offices in the east end of Hamilton. We traveled there to complete our survey for our communications audit and we were able to interview employees and volunteers.

Below is a brief video about the ReStore that is found on the Habitat for Humanity Hamilton YouTube Page.

The ReStore has become a vital part of the community. Instead of having to go to a large hardware store, people are given the opportunity to find exactly what they need in a smaller space and they are supporting a great cause at the same time. 

Our project with Habitat for Humanity Hamilton is not over yet, but since we have been working with them in October, i have felt that i have learned more about the company and i have been able to share that knowledge with others. I am excited to continue my partnership and as well to have another knew client in the winter semester.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Social Media? NO WAY!

In week 8 we discussed how Social Media in Public Relations is a necessary tool and tactic that is here to stay. This isn't just a way for clients to increase website traffic and generate exposure, but it can be monitored as well. What people think, how they respond, and how they connect is social media. This is how PR practitioners can understand their publics behaviors and how it can benefit their represented organization. 

You know...sharing, and liking, and tweeting, and posting, hashtagging, blogging and vlogging and monitoring...But do you recall the ones who said social media was going to fall? 
  1.  Three in four companies have a dedicated social media team. (Altimeter)
  2.  Executives are more likely to consider CEOs who use social media to be good listeners. (Weber/Shandwick, KRC Research)
  3.  More than 50 percent of executives say engaging with customers online is one of their companies' top 10 priorities. (Mckinsey & Company)
  4. Forty-two percent of online adults use more than one social network. Facebook is the most popular. (Pew Research Center) 
Social Media is not just for businesses, it's also for consumers and clients to stay in the loop while we gain valuable knowledge of local news and community events to even gaining information on an international scale. It's how we consume content easily at our fingertips (thanks to short attention spans). 

Being a Social Media Specialist in PR involves:
  1. Analyzing data
  2. Creating short, digestible content (video or posts)
  3. Creating media calendars & media lists
  4. Listening/Engaging/Building a network 
  5. Interjecting publics view into the two-way communication process
Public Relations professionals can use social media to tell the stories that traditionally had been told through the media. However, creating credible news is one of the challenges we face as 'fake news' is now a big issue. Heres a quote from an article titled The biggest and most important media and PR trends for 2018. "There's an emerging imperative for brands to get back to the fundamentals of relationship building, trust, and transparency in communications." Frank Strong, Founder & President, Sword and the Script Media. 

We have experienced media fragmentation and loss of trust. PR practitioners have to be ready to educate clients, capture their voice and break out to promote campaigns to be measured. Cision, Google Analytics Meltwater, Sprout Social and HootSuite are just some of the social media monitoring tools. Chris Penn, Shift Communications states, "Every industry will need data scientists; every company will need access to data scientists or data science tools in order to remain competitive." 

Results from Social Media monitoring tell businesses what they need, when and where. The data highlights your ups and downs, rights and wrongs and how your image is perceived by the public. Being a Social Media Specialist allows you to analyze visitor traffic, see what tools reach the right audience and understand the importance of aligning social media strategies with business or organizational goals.

Social Media has changed public relations but for the better in my opinion and there are plenty of opportunities out there for us to take after we graduate. I was inspired by the information given by the video showed in class so here it is again if you forgot some stats! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Minority Women in Broadcast Media

My first reaction when we were given an assignment to interview a journalist was one word: "how?"  Having been out of the country for so many years, the idea of having to do the researching and networking to find a journalist willing to be interview seemed like a daunting task.

That was, until I remembered Molly.

I met Molly Thomas ten years ago when we were both participants of the Explore Program in Montreal, Quebec.  Molly, a social butterfly, floated into my room and introduced herself with confidence and ease on our first day in residence.  Fast-forward ten years and Molly has made a name for herself in the industry, working her way from an internship with Global News, Edmonton, to a breaking news reporter and correspondent gig for CBC News Network in Toronto.

While talking with Molly about Mohawk's PR program and the interview project we fell into a comfortable rhythm that old friends and acquaintances usually find after long gaps in meetings and conversations.  Her career path was admirable, and her insight into journalism and media refreshing, but the most interesting thing to come up from our interview was a phrase that I wasn't quite expecting to hear:

"Brown privilege."

Discrimination, white privilege, cultural appropriation, racial inequities, #blacklivesmatter ... these are all topics out there in the world that people are fighting to raise awareness of and to correct, but in all this conversation about race and discrimination I had never heard someone use their status as a visible minority from a strong vantage point.  And so, I asked her to explain what she meant.

"There's an advantage in being a minority in terms of people being open to you.  You have access to people ... people who tell you stories that have never been told to others.  Being a woman, a visible minority, and a Canadian, it's a new type of privilege.  When I'm abroad, people don't identify me as Canadian; they see me as Indian.  And what does this afford me?  In the middle east, Africa, and even in the US and Canada, people welcome me.  I have this awareness that being a woman of colour means that I can go to different places and get respect."

This really surprised me.  In the political climate we live in today you rarely hear people bragging about having a darker colour of skin, let alone how that colour gives them any sort of social advantage, but talking more with Molly about it, I saw that she had a point.  Looking the way she does is an advantage in her work because she talks to refugees, immigrants and people abroad, and her Indian appearance gives her a friendly and relatable face.  Molly used an example of an apartment fire in Saskatchewan to really drive home the point.

"I was late to the scene, and by the time we got there other news crews were already packing up.  They said, 'Go home, Molly.  No one's talking.'  But I didn't want to leave empty handed and so I waited, and waited, and the first guy who came out of the building gave me an interview, invited me into his home, and then introduced me to his family and his neighbours, too.  When my colleagues asked me, 'how did you get them to talk?' I just said that it was because I was brown.  The residents were all immigrants, some of them illegal, and they were scared to speak to reporters.  But me?  They opened up to me right away."

Hearing this story made me reflect on my own experiences as a teacher in Asia, and how I integrated with ease as a kindergarten teacher because, unlike some of my foreign co-workers, I was a friendly and familiar face to my young students.  It made me realize that we, as a society, still have a long way to go to bridge the gaps in knowledge and racial inequality, and that being a minority doesn't always have to be at a disadvantage.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Looking into our Future: Some Words from a PR Grad

Looking into our Future 

Some words from a PR Graduate 

As you may or may not know, my friend Toni Shelton graduated from the Mohawk Public Relations program last year and is well on her way to a successful career. Her insight into the industry is very optimistic and encouraging so I asked her a few formal questions to pass on to the rest of the class.

How did the Mohawk program help you in your public relations career? Did you feel prepared?
"The PR program at Mohawk gave me the practical skills I needed to pursue a career in the industry. More importantly, it gave me the soft skills that are often the toughest to learn. Interviewing, resumes, networking are all things the program taught me and that ultimately are what helped me land my first job."
What did you enjoy most about the Mohawk program?
"It is well-rounded and touches many aspects of the PR industry. It reflects working in the industry."
Are you enjoying your experience in the public relations field? 
"Working in PR is not for the faint of heart! However there are so many paths to take and industries to be part of, you will never feel like you’ve pigeon holed yourself into working something you don’t like. PR is literally the best job in the world, you can do anything you want."
What's your favorite aspect of your career so far?
"It’s a constant learning curve and that makes it interesting and rewarding. Plus, doing something you love, like writing and being creative, never feels like you’re working."

Toni currently works as a Communications Manager for Collective Arts Brewing, a beer company fusing the craft of brewing with the inspired talents of emerging artists and musicians. Check them out below!