As a commuter, I get up before 7 am every day to get to my morning classes at Loyalist. But on a Thursday morning not too long ago, my alarm was set for 4:30 am (yes, you read that correctly) as our class was off to Toronto for a day of networking with more industry professionals. It was a great opportunity as a PR student to get some insight into a few different options in our field and learn from people who excel in their sectors.
We met up with Adrienne Simic of Media Profile PR Agency at Yorkdale mall to learn about her role as vice president, as well the agency’s collaboration with the mall on its annual Fashion Santa campaign. The biggest takeaway for me from her presentation was pushing the boundaries on your creativity in order to provide your clients with unique campaign strategies. What started off as a silly idea for a sexy Santa became a viral fundraising campaign which draws hordes of people to the mall each holiday season to snap a picture and support the Sick Kids Foundation.
We also met with a few members of the marketing and communications team at Universal Music Canada including Director of Communications Marcus Tamm. The most memorable moment for me during our visit was something that Marcus said when we were seated in one of the board rooms: “Prepare, prepare, prepare… or just wing it.” As a gold personality based on the True Colours test, the first part rings so true for me; I feel considerably less nervous and stressed about how an interview, event, or assignment is going to go if I have planned meticulously beforehand. I am learning that the ability to ‘wing it’ is just as important because sometimes things don’t go according to plan and I need to be able to adapt.
We finished the day with a visit to Loyalist PR alumnus Mike Masaro, manager of media relations at Toronto FC. Mike talked about the club’s branding and why it’s important for the club to maintain positive messaging particularly in negative scenarios. He gave an example of when the team lost a big game in a shootout and fans and players were fairly upset, so the communications team chose to emphasize the great season that the team had played up to that point.
Even though I’m not interested in living in Toronto, it was a great trip overall and I found it helpful to learn about what career options exist there. I’m thrilled that these out of classroom experiences are woven into the program because it helps as a student to determine which sectors and jobs are (or aren’t) appealing. It is also completely invaluable to have the opportunity to ask questions of these professionals that might not be covered in our course materials.