This year’s University of Ottawa’s Public Relations Association (UOPRA)’s annual student conference Connect 2 Success hosted PR professionals from a variety of fields like fashion, politics, charities; two of which were our lovable Marilou Moles, Founder of Twenty York Street and Skyfall Blue CEO Fadi Ghaby, who spoke on the panel on real world insight and hiring strategies in the PR world, alongside Dan Mader (National PR) and David Rodier (Hill+Knowlton Strategies). With a change of venue to University of Ottawa newest building, the Desmarais, the goal of this conference was to empower students by teaching them valuable lessons, provide them with networking working opportunities and have equip them with tools to excel in their desired field.
2015 UOPRA CONNECT 2 SUCCESS CONFERENCE
As a student, I found every speech was priceless. Each speaker had an important message to deliver. Notably, UOPRA provides a diverse range of learning experiences for PR students all year round and participation is open to every student at the U of O campus. It not only provides excellent PR experience and networking opportunities, it also acquaints students to the real world after graduation. The conference was a tribute to this. It was an event organized by students for students, and was it ever successful.
While there were a tremendous amount of information shared at the conference, here are the TOP THREE LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE 2015 UOPRA CONNECT 2 SUCCESS CONFERENCE:
BE MORE THAN YOUR RESUME
“Your resume is just what gets you through the door,” says Fadi Ghaby, CEOP and co-founder of Sky Fall Blue and winner of the TOP Forty under 40 Business Leader Award by the Ottawa Business Journal and the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce.
As students we’re often thinking about what we can do to improve our resume. Although this is a valid concern, it is far more important to demonstrate to our future employers how we can not just meet but exceed expectations. When I applied to work at 20YS, Marilou didn’t ask me for a resume. I had only emailed her a link to my blog and, following that, she requested samples of my PR work.
A blog, as my teachers and panelist from CONNECT2SUCCESS kept saying, sets you apart from the rest. (Read more on how to create a successful blog here and here.) It demonstrates many required skills in today’s work environment such as self-discipline, organization and resourcefulness along with your writing skills. Your resume can be a tool to help you get through the door, but with so much competition in the marketplace, you need more than just the basic qualifications. Your career started the moment you sat down in class.
It’s never too early to apply for internships, seek out job opportunities, read up on various PR-related fields such as SEO, content marketing or anything else you’re interested in that could help set you apart from the rest. Start doing something on your own now, build it, promote it as you never know where this will take you someday.
HAVE A SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM STRATEGY
“Do not take orders, you’re a strategist, let yourself be empowered to create the strategy,” says Natalie Boviar, Principal at Savoir faire PR.
PR is a hard thing to quantify. It’s valuable, yes, but because you it’s not tangible, employers have a hard time understanding what you do exactly. They sometimes think it’s easy or that they can do it better. This is why PR professionals need to be confident in their skills and knowledge and that they must have a short-term and long-term strategy. When it’s down to the wire and a call can make or break your company, you need to be able to tell your boss how to react and what to do. If this requires a closed door conversation to help them understand that you know what you’re doing, so be it. You’re the one responsible for your company’s reputation and you were hired because you know how to do that and you have a strategy to implement that.
LET YOUR PERSONALITY SHINE THROUGH
“Don’t be scared to let your personality shine through, be yourself” says Darcy Boucher, founder of Bowda PR. As I always say, PR is for creative people who aren’t artistic. PR professionals are budding with ideas all day long, despite how we’re often researching, counting or trouble shooting instead of creating. When you have the opportunity to develop your own idea, don’t iron out all the personality from it. Your unique point of view is what will make your idea stand out and possibly resonate with your target audience. People invest in brands that they can relate to, and they relate to personality. Always think of “brand equity” – consumers do play favourites and that applies to all, if not most industries.
The perfect example of this is iPhone versus Android debate. Both camps have some serious followers who are passionate about their phone of choice. They can argue all day that one is better than the other and vice versa. People pick a brand that based on common values, preferences and brand goals. By creating a personality and purpose for your brand, people are more likely to invest in it if they feel personally attached to it.
The Public Relations world is getting bigger than ever. It’s faster paced, more dynamic and to some extent, more challenging and competitive than ever before. Students are also becoming more and more driven and engaged that conferences like this are great ways to hone their craft and build a stronger, more equipped and more competent PR Professionals.
Do you have any PR questions? Let us know in the comments below.
Editor’s note: Twenty York Street would like to thank the amazing UOPRA crew and current President Jahrusha Coke-Talbot (also Public Relations Staff, Skyfall Blue) for setting up this valuable learning opportunity for students.
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Event Coverage, Text and Images by: Ms. Taylor Boileau, PR for @20YS.
ABOUT TAYLOR BOILEAU
Ottawa-based French Canadian Blogger Taylor Boileau is Twenty York Street’s Resident vintage bargain shopping expert, who is currently traveling in France and Croatia. With 10 years experience sifting through racks at Value Village, she’s got all the tips and tricks you need for finding those tags worth scouring the racks for. Taylor describes her style as quirky, bohemian and retro. She loves to mix and match to create a perfectly unique outfit. She’s currently studying public relations at Algonquin College and hopes to make on career copy writing and blogging. Taylor’s interests lie in fashion and beauty, writing and reading fantasy novels, knitting and sewing, as well as social activism, politics and current events.