Company you work for:
C-Shore Communications Inc.
I’ve been working in PR for more than 20 years, which makes me feel pretty old just to say it. I started in Ottawa, then moved to BC more than 17 years ago. I’ve worked for the federal government, for provincial government agencies, for PR agencies, for non-profits, for healthcare, for corporate clients, but for much of my career, I’ve been a consultant. That means I’ve worked in most industries at one point or another. I came to PR from journalism, so I’ve always written a lot, and have done plenty of media relations and crisis management. These days, I do a lot more strategic planning and media training, and I can never get enough speechwriting. I love writing speeches.
I recently finished a few years as Director of Communications for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River. As I did that job part time, I kept up my consulting the other part. Now I am consulting full time again and trying to remember how to network as I rebuild my client list.
Greatest career success:
My two biggest successes actually bookend my career to date. A very long time ago, I was the national bilingual spokesperson for Elections Canada for two successive electoral events. It was a huge job with tons of responsibility and a major outlay of hours. For a 20-something fairly new to the business, it was a huge job, and I think I did it pretty well.
My other big success was just last fall, with the release of the Cohen Commission’s final report. It was the culmination of the best job of my life (to date!), and our release of the report hit every objective I had laid out and got all the right coverage we had wanted. And I got to work with some of the best people ever to make it all happen, including the media.
Greatest career challenge:
I worked with an organization with whom I did not share the political point of view. I was there primarily to help with their association communications, but they also did some very strong right-wing public affairs actions with which I often was asked to help. Compared to them, I was a “latte-drinking leftie” (the President actually called me that. Given their old-boys-club mentality, I took it in stride). Drawing the line of what my conscious could stand and what I could offer them kept the project interesting for me, but it was a big challenge.
PR role model:
My boss at Elections Canada, Richard Rochefort. He taught me the importance of bringing communications into operational thinking from the beginning. He used to always illustrate this by placing an object in the centre of his desk, slamming his hand flat on top, and saying “Don’t just give me the done deal and tell me to place communications on top.”
Best career advice:
Know what you don’t know, and don’t be afraid to ask to have stuff explained to you.
Best place to ‘do coffee’ in Vancouver:
Now that I’m back full time at the home office, I spend lots of time at Crepe & Café in Dunbar. Not only are the crepes amazing, but the owners are French, so I get to keep up my second language.
Favourite journalist to pitch to:
Mark Hume at the Globe and Mail. He respects what I do and what I can offer him, he acknowledges pitches even when he can’t follow them up, and he’s a really nice guy.
I’m a big fan of blogger Penelope Trunk (http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/). It’s not PR-related but she has amazing insights on the work world.
Fun fact about you:
I am an umpire for Rowing Canada, and I coached my son’s Little League team for five years.