As Communications Manager at Tourism Richmond, Lesley Chang is an expert at showcasing the best that the Lower Mainland has to offer. Drawing on her experience in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors, Lesley speaks to CPRS about her greatest accomplishments, her regrets, and how to get cheeky when applying for a job.
What first drove you to become involved in communications?
The Kwantlen PR program was always on my mind after I'd completed a certificate in computer information systems. I wasn't getting anywhere in my professional career and had to do something, so I decided to take the plunge and enroll in the program. Best. Decision. Ever. In my cohort, we were able to do some serious hands-on learning, including preparing media kits and actually do media relations work for real-world clients. That got me hooked.
What are you most proud of in your career?
I always think back to my days as a student, and when my media relations project group landed some pretty high-quality media hits for the Pacific Assistance Dog Society. We had the perfect trifecta for a media story - a cute dog, kids, and the Canucks brand (the story was about Poppy, the newly-placed PADS assistance dog at Canuck Place Children's Hospice). The story caught the attention of Global National's Everyday Heroes segment producer, The Vancouver Sun and Breakfast Television. This was a final project for a class and we totally aced it. Poppy is still at Canuck Place Children's Hospice, making everyone smile just a bit brighter!
Is there anything you regret?
Letting my ego get the best of me when I was first starting out. It led to a lot of mistakes on my part and it was a very humbling lesson in realizing that there's always more you can learn.
If you could give any advice to someone beginning their career in PR/Communications, what would it be?
Know your audience! If you get your audience right, it's so much easier to construct key messages and get your real points across. If you know your audience inside and out, you'll have a much easier time to connect with them because you'll know what resonates. This goes for every piece of collateral you touch - whether it's an ad, a blog post, a tweet, a corporate document, PowerPoint presentations, cover letters, etc. Always, always, always keep your audience in mind.
How has your involvement with CPRS benefited your career?
I've been a part of CPRS Vancouver since I was a student and I've seen it grow and change over the years. I've volunteered as a live blogger for the 2009 CPRS national conference, and that was an education in how to live-blog. I've been on the board of directors with the recruitment portfolio, taking care of the job board - which allowed me to take part in a national CPRS task force to figure out how all of the job boards for each chapter could work collaboratively. I recently signed up as a mentor in the mentorship program and doing so reminded me that I knew more than I thought I did. I most recently served as a CPRS Vancouver Scholarship judge, and had a tremendously fun time adjudicating submissions. Being involved with CPRS Vancouver does take a lot of time, but it's time very well spent, whether it's networking with other peers, helping students find their best work, or just meeting up with friends from the industry.
What’s the best part about working in communications in Vancouver?
Vancouver has such a wide variety of industries that need communications professionals, it always feels like you'll learn something new. Yet, the fundamentals stay the same, so transferring from one industry to the next is very easy, and not to mention - fun.
What’s something people may not know about you?
I once wrote the cheekiest cover letter *ever* when I was out of school and desperate for a job... Feel free to give it a read.
As a result of this incredibly cheeky cover letter, I received several phone calls, two interviews and one offer! My top tip when creating cheeky cover letters? Again, know your audience! Some will really appreciate this style of writing while others may discard it completely. This style of writing would be suitable for a creative agency, but not necessarily for a more corporate office. Have fun, keep writing and don't give up!
You can keep up with Lesley’s adventures around the Lower Mainland here: https://twitter.com/LesleyChang