Ange Frymire Fleming APR, FCPRS, MBA
What first drove you to become involved in communications?
My studies at BCIT led me to a career in radio as a broadcaster, promotions director, reporter and freelance writer. Those exciting times introduced a plethora of possibilities in the world of communications. Open-ended engagement with multiple publics on news, events, achievements and VIP profiles whet my appetite. After founding Vocal Point Communications (a boutique firm specializing in media relations, communications, stakeholder engagement, public-speaking training and crisis communications), I found my forte in writing stories that both captured public attention and catapulted my reputation. I was hooked.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Although there are many campaigns that have hit home in my heart, the one that speaks most to my character, strategic approaches and social ethics was my contract with Service Canada. Another consultant and I were contracted to work with 170 social-service agencies throughout BC and the Yukon to find solutions to homelessness. We led a multi-pronged strategy with the agencies and business communities in eight cities. Tools included in-depth interviews, focus groups, Delphi panels, surveys, media training and public consultation. Amidst heated, controversial and sometimes debilitating dialogues, we began to reach many audiences who’d been resistant to the negative social impacts that homelessness creates on communities. Almost one year later, Kelowna launched its 1st Annual Homelessness Awareness Week (now called Homelessness Action Week), which was a resounding success, bringing the support of high-profile business leaders into the mix. The initiative mushroomed three years later to 20 participating communities throughout BC and the Yukon, driving the four levels of government in Canada to collaborate on solutions, possibilities and stakeholder engagement (see Vancouver’s Homelessness Action Week of October 8-14, 2017).
Is there anything you regret?
My education was limited to a broad circle in public relations/communications. I improved that by obtaining my APR, MBA and taking numerous shorter courses in ethics, audience engagement, etc.
As well, I had sometimes underestimated the seismic impacts of opponents in my earlier days of crisis communications and issues management. Today, audience analysis is an integral element of my undertakings. It builds strategic campaigns that master solutions. This is critical in these times of digital communications, where the power of one thought leader or disgruntled customer can single-handedly impact results upwards or downwards.
What’s your top PR tip?
Apply this acronym: E-T-H-I-C-S.
E: Engage by using your eyes and ears for all campaigns and research.
T: Tell the truth.
H: Help the sector through volunteering for boards, not-for-profit committees and community crises, such as the forest-fire ravages and other social tragedies.
I: Act with integrity…always.
C: Use common sense, which isn’t always common.
S: Speak with knowledge, and wisdom, keeping your client’s needs – and your integrity – in the forefront.
If you could give any advice to someone beginning their career in PR/Communications, what would it be?
Master your writing skills. Enrol in writing courses and learn how to tell the write right story to the right audience at the right time using the write right channels.
Choose a mentor or a mentoring program (see CPRS) to guide and lead you through your career. One of my first CPRS mentees of several years ago became a good friend who runs her own communications firm. We still discuss changing tactics and strategies over a bite to eat to this day!
Obtain your PRK (Public Relations Knowledge) certification from CPRS.
Learn everything you can as thoroughly as you can and ask questions about what you don’t understand.
How has your involvement with CPRS benefited your career?
My career has soared:
Smiling:It pole-vaulted my communications firm when I joined CPRS in 1993. I recently re-established ties with a long-time communications leader who remembered me from an information interview I’d arranged in the early 1990s.
Opportunities:I received my first part-time teaching contract because of my contacts and knowledge accumulated from CPRS and its extensive network. That has now evolved to teaching full-time at KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University).
Awards:CPRS named me as the 2011 Canadian Mentor of the Year, which was one of the most valuable awards I’ve received.
Recognition:CPRS awarded me as a Fellow with the College of Fellows (FCPRS) in 2012, one of CPRS’s highest honours that recognizes over 20 years of proven leadership, expertise and contributions to the CPRS community.
What’s the best part about working in communications in Vancouver?
The people. The clients. The volunteers.
The expertise. The opportunities.
The moments of reflection, of choices and of living in such a vibrant community with those who share common values.
Thank you, CPRS. Cheers to a fantastic marriage of almost 25 years!