by April Tsui, Corporate Communications & PR ’08
When Andrea Craig, senior consultant at Hill & Knowlton Canada, graduated from Centennial College’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program in 2003, she began her career in the dark.
As a junior public relations practitioner at Strategic Objectives, Craig worked 10- to 14-hour days and “didn’t see sunshine for a year.” She tackled every task with a can-do attitude and took every opportunity to deepen her public relations knowledge.
At first, much of Craig’s work was tactical. “There was very little client interaction,” she says. “I also did a lot of media tracking and analysis. I had to read the daily papers on rotation — that’s how we started the day.”
Craig’s dedication was quickly recognized and she soon took on greater responsibilities, such as managing budgets and mentoring younger public relations practitioners. Still early in her career, she had already contributed to many interesting projects, one of which involved inviting Prince Andrew of the British royal family to christen a new building at Toronto General Hospital.
In August 2005, Craig joined Hill & Knowlton Canada. “I wanted to see what it was like at a bigger firm that had more training and resources,” she recalls. “I knew I wanted to go to Hill & Knowlton, and only applied there. Luckily, I was hired!”
Craig’s responsibilities as senior consultant include developing media relations strategies, media training, brainstorming, team, budget and project management and client relations. “There is no ‘typical day’ at the agency. There are always surprises,” she says. “But even though some surprises may be bad, you still learn something from them.”
“Marketing communications is the most fun but also the most challenging,” Craig says of her primary area of practice. “There are so many consumer products out there. You really need to think about how you are going to pitch yours to the media and make it stand out.”
Craig points out that practise makes media relations less intimidating. “It’s scary when you pick up the phone that first time. Media relations is something that doesn’t come naturally; everybody has to learn.” She also enjoys collaborating with other areas of practice, including health, aboriginal affairs and technology, for major projects.
Craig suggests students wishing to work in agency launch their careers at boutique firms. “The learning curve is much steeper, it’s more chaotic and you’ll be thrown into situations. It’s trial by fire!”
She also has a few pieces of advice for junior practitioners: be willing to do anything, say “yes” no matter how mundane the work may seem and work really hard. “Your hard work will pay off,” she says.