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
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
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
Kim Blanchette, APR
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
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
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
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
Canadian Public Relations Society