PR Profile: Rashpal Rai, APR, National Board of Directors Nominee

Rashpal Rai 1The National Canadian Public Relations Society is governed by a 12 member Board of Directors. Each director is elected for a three-year term via secret ballot following the Annual General Meeting. This year, two CPRS Vancouver members, Adam Grossman and Rashpal Rai (profiled below) have been nominated among seven others vying for four spots. Voting is open to all CPRS members until the AGM on May 25, 2014. Ballots can be found here.

Name: Rashpal Rai, APR

Job title: Manager, Public Relations

Company you work for: Envirotest Canada. We are the contractors for the beloved AirCare program in the Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley region.

Board position you are running for: Board Member, CPRS National Board of Directors.

First order of business, if selected: I will continue working with the National Membership Recruitment and Retention Committee to implement the new membership strategy. To continue to be a strong professional organization, we need to have a strong membership base of public relations practitioners who feel valued and engaged with the Society. The committee is focused on recruiting new members, retaining our national members and ensuring there are opportunities where members feel engaged. The work that the National Society and the Local Societies are putting in today will ensure our membership continues to grow and stay strong for many years to come.

Career background: I’ve been working in the public relations profession for over 15 years. Although I was born and raised in Victoria, I completed my Bachelor of Public Relations degree from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

I cut my teeth in PR when I was hired as the communications coordinator with Envirotest Canada in September 1999. Being that we were a department of two, I gained valuable experience in all aspects of PR including community relations, internal and external communications, stakeholder relations and media relations. In 2005, I was offered the position of Manager, Public Relations when my supervisor was offered an expanded position with our US parent company. Over the years, I helped guide our company’s and the AirCare program’s relationships through turbulent political water and media scrutiny.

History with CPRS: I’ve been involved with CPRS since graduation. I became a student member, and later an affiliate member, with Vancouver Island Chapter in 1997 and served on their Board in 2008, before moving to Vancouver. I became a National member in 1999 and volunteered for the 2001 CPRS National Conference in Whistler and with the Vancouver chapter. I served as Secretary/Treasurer for CPRS Vancouver in 2007-2008 and 2009-2011, served as Conference Vice-Chair and Finance Chair for the 2009 CPRS National Conference in Vancouver. Currently, I serve as a Board member on the National Board of Directors. I achieved my APR designation in 2013.

Career aspirations: A leadership position with an organization where I can continue to grow as a seasoned public relations practitioner.

Greatest career challenge: Managing expectation in a multi-stakeholder environment. At one point, I reported to two supervising bodies that, at times, had conflicting viewpoints or expectations. I had to come up with effective PR strategies I felt were our best options and gain their support while ensuring their concerns were alleviated.

Greatest career success: Two personal milestones for me were when I was promoted to a senior management position in our company and when I received my APR designation.

Favourite PR/communications campaign: The most rewarding campaign was a student scholarship/radio PSA campaign which challenged me to incorporate a variety of tactics and audiences into one campaign. We ran a contest for Grade 11 and 12 students to write an engaging PSA for a chance to win a scholarship for their post-secondary education. The scholarship recipients recorded their PSAs in a professional studio and had them run on local radio stations during the summer and fall campaigns. It brought our community relations, stakeholder relations, media and public awareness efforts together into an integrated campaign that ran for seven years. I also lead our relations with the Federal Government after received some federal funding for the campaign, including managing the financial reporting.

PR role model: Do I have to pick only one? There have been many people who have supported – and mentored – me throughout my career. Joan Yates, APR, Nigel Atkin, Penny Noble, APR, Vanessa Greebe, APR, Kevin Boothroyd, John Kageorge, APR and Jean Cormier, APR are a just a few of my mentors.

Best career advice: To be an effective strategist and leader, you need to look at the issues from a broad scope. Understand the bigger picture.

Favourite journalist/blogger in the city: Frances Bula and Lesli Boldt.

Favourite website: cprs.ca (no, really).

Favourite social media website: Twitter (to catch on breaking news and the latest happenings around town) and Facebook (to see what my friends are up to).

Fun fact about you: My morning routine used to be: come to work early, go for a walk then get caught of up on the issues of the day. Now, I get caught up on the issues of the day as I take the first diaper changing shift of the day (I have 19-month-old twin girls at home).

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