CPRS had an opportunity to interview Laura Ballance, a 20-year veteran of the Vancouver PR industry and President of the Gastown-based Laura Ballance Media Group. She will be speaking at the next professional development event on May 29th, 2013 about the integration of multicultural events into mainstream culture. Here, Laura gives a sneak peek of the event and reveals her love for Bollywood.
1. Tell us about the upcoming session topic that you will be speaking about next Wednesday, May 29.
I will be sharing LBMG's experience with the Times of India Film Awards held here in April. This was a first time event organized by a media conglomerate with a 175-year history - India's largest media group. The fact they chose to hold the event outside of India was an amazing opportunity not only for our firm, but the entire region as well. I will be sharing my learnings with other practitioners about the challenges and rewards of supporting international calibre events – particularly those with a very distinct and different set of cultural values.
2. Why is this topic of interest for PR professionals in Vancouver?
Vancouver and the region are becoming more diverse in population and our city is attracting international attention as a great place to live and work. As we continue to grow and evolve, we believe more events, festivals and conferences from around the world will look to our region to host. I want to share my experiences to help others be ready to welcome the world to our province.
3. How did your organization become involved with the Times Of India Film Awards (TOIFA)? What was the most memorable moment from the Awards?
We were referred to the Times of India group by colleagues we have worked with in the local and national media. We were very honoured to be spoken of so highly by the outlets we work with every day. My most memorable moment was Shahrukh Khan's arrival at YVR. It was amazing seeing arguably the world's biggest star be moved by the incredible reception he received. Seeing the celebrities have such an incredibly positive experience in Vancouver and throughout the province was something we can all be proud of.
4. What are three key takeaways that attendees can expect to receive by the end of the session?
I hope that attendees will take away:
- An understanding of the value of these types of events to relationship building in the ethnic communities and profiling our city on the world stage.
- That you can expect the unexpected at any time before and during the event in terms of issues management.
- That Bollywood celebrities have more reach and influence than we, in North America, realize.
5. What is your favorite Indian dish?
Tough call. Jalebi (Indian sweet) is awesome, but most of my friends in the South Asian community know I love almonds with black salt and always seem to have them when I visit. My friend Neena also makes the best tandoori chicken ever.
6. Who is your favorite Bollywood celebrity? Bollywood film?
Shahrukh Khan (also known as King Khan) was fantastic to deal with and I loved him as a field hockey coach in a film called Chak Di! India, a diverse role for him. I liked it especially because it addressed head-on some of the stereotypes facing women in India. It was an honour to meet him here in Vancouver. My other favourite celebrity to work with was Ranbir Kapoor. He has a great sense of humour.
Here's a chance to win a free ticket to Taking Multicultural Mainstream on May 29th: Like our post onFacebook or retweet about the event on Twitter.