President's Message


July 13, 2016

R-A-C-E out of the Spin

It happens all the time. You’re invited to a meeting on a project that is already completely baked, flaws and all, to ‘polish it up’ or ‘put a positive spin on it’. And, oh yeah, it’s got to go out tomorrow.

So you hold back the sighs and the eye-rolling, try again to explain how much better it would be if you were involved earlier and then try to do what you can with what you’ve got. And while your work is probably excellent, you leave thinking it wasn’t quite as good as it could have been.

Monday morning comes and the cycle starts again.

So, how do you break it? How do you get busy leaders to pay attention? How do you get to the table and once at the table, how do you help your organization help itself?

Well, for me, it begins with R-A-C-E. Over the past few years our team at the Alberta Energy Regulator has been working hard to reach out to senior leaders, engineers, geologists, project managers (basically anyone who will let us come to their meetings with donuts) and talk about what happens before the tactics are executed. We share opinion research (ours and what is available publicly), talk about the concerns and expectations of our audiences, and we share examples of how effective and strategic public relations actually supports their goals and those of the organization.

We talk about the R-A-C-E formula, and share information about the role of public relations in bringing organizations together with their audiences, supporting two-way communication and, as we learned at the World Public Relations Forum, helping people move from ‘talking’ to listening and collaboration. We point to the growing number of successful PRK and APR candidates in our organization and include the CPRS Code of Professional Standards, in our corporate communications strategy, and we share our expertise through training in media relations, plain language, opinion research, effective presentations and communications planning and of course, measuring our results.

The best part is we have so much access to resources and professional development as members of CPRS. The chance to learn from colleagues across the country through the webinar series, local and national events helps us take best practices and apply them in our own organization.  We’re planning some amazing programming for this year and beyond, so stay tuned for the first of many announcements in the coming weeks. 

It takes time, requires dozens of meetings and presentations, and a donut budget. But the benefits for us as practitioners – and as a public relations team – have been huge. We’re being engaged earlier in the process, contributing to strategy and we’re asked about issues and concerns in the development stage. More important, is the growing sense that public relations is a partner in the organization’s work, a substantive contributor to programs and projects, rather than a begrudged last step in the process.

Whether you are part of a larger communications team or a lone voice in your organization, there is always an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and share what you bring to the table. In an era of shrinking budgets, increased integration in communications functions, and a push to demonstrate ROI, PR for PR shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, it’s all part of being #CPRSproud. 

Kim Blanchette, APR
National President
Canadian Public Relations Society

June 15, 2016
When I first submitted my application to the CPRS in 2003, I was nervous I wouldn’t be accepted. Even though I had worked in media relations and communications for more than 10 years at the time, I was never really sure I would fit in with a professional association. I still remember my first meeting at CPRS Nova Scotia and how Patrick Brownlow welcomed me so warmly, introduced me to everyone and immediately talked me into volunteering.

When I moved to Calgary, CPRS was there again to offer a warm welcome, a community of new colleagues and opportunities to participate. Whether it has been serving on the Calgary Society board, obtaining my APR, acting as a grader for the Public Relations Knowledge exam, co-chairing the 2014 National Conference in Banff or participating in mentorship programs, each time I engage with CPRS I get so much more than I give.

Years later, Pat Brownlow is still warmly welcoming new CPRS members, including my own son, and I have the amazing honour of serving as your 60th National President.

It’s an exciting time for public relations. With more educational institutions providing diploma and degree programs, public relations is gaining recognition as a strategic function within organizations, helping them connect with stakeholders, engage employees, hold true to ethics and corporate values and deliver measureable results. More and more, organizations see the value of having relationships with their audiences and stakeholders, and public relations is a key driver in building those relationships and earning trust and confidence.

What better way to deliver those results than to belong to a national professional association? One that adheres to a Code of Professional Standards, provides internationally recognized accreditation, is committed to professional development and recognizes excellence in Canadian public relations practice through our Awards of Excellence program. A professional association that offers local networking and builds strong professional communities through 14 local societies across the country.

I’m often asked ‘why CPRS?’. The fact is there are lot of other associations, and online networking opportunities out there, why CPRS? Well for me it is simple, my CPRS membership is for me a testament to the work I do, it underpins how I practice public relations and communications management. CPRS has provided me with networking opportunities and yes, professional development, but most important, it has made me a better practitioner. It connects me with colleagues that have helped me navigate challenging issues, helped me gain new skills through obtaining my APR, learn about leadership from too many mentors to count, and demonstrated to my employers that I am part of a world-class professional association.

Like most professional associations, CPRS is faced with challenges in maintaining and growing membership, supporting local societies and providing member value in an environment with so many other options. Over the coming year I look forward to working with the National Board, our local societies, committees and councils, and our close to 1,500 members across Canada to meet those challenges and continue to strengthen the CPRS and the practice of public relations and communications management.

I encourage you to get involved, take advantage of all your membership has to offer, refer a colleague, mentor a new practitioner (or seek out a mentor yourself), take part in a webinar or local professional development session or serve on a board or committee. There is so much to be gained, both personally and professionally.

Join us for a year that celebrates our profession and demonstrates that we are all #CPRSProud.

Kim Blanchette, APR
National President
Canadian Public Relations Society