The Word

about Centennial’s Corporate Communications + PR program

Archive for November, 2008

Publicity manager enjoys Random House

Posted by bwaite on November 24, 2008

Grad Frances Bedford

Grad Frances Bedford

By Kara Hendriksen, Class of 2009

“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”  Frances Bedford, Publicity Manager at Random House of Canada, uses this mantra every day, whether she’s trying to convince John Grisham to tour, or get the media to attend a book signing.  But Bedford hasn’t always had this much confidence.

When she graduated from the University of Toronto in 1998 with a degree in English and drama, Bedford felt like she didn’t have any marketable skills. That’s why when she found out about  the Corporate Communications program at Centennial it immediately appealed to her.

“Centennial College is really good at focusing you and getting you to look forward,” Bedford explains, “The program gave me a lot of confidence and direction.”

After interning with RBC in 2000, Bedford went on to work for the Harbourfront Centre’s literary program, becoming Senior Publicist after only two months. “I was confident, fresh and optimistic,” she says, “I had all the skills and I could do the job.” Her impressive performance and motivated attitude resulted in her being sought out for her next job.

For the past five years, she’s worked as a Publicity Manager for Random House Publishing Canada.  Her job includes lots of media release writing and e-mail communications. However, her favourite part of the job is getting out and interacting with people at book launches, festivals, and even TV show tapings. Recently, Bedford escorted Elizabeth Baird, the author of The Complete Canadian Living Baking Book, to a taping of Steven and Chris at CBC.  She was there to make the author comfortable, answer questions, and help with any other tasks that needed to be done.

Bedford insists that because of the wide range of careers in communications, graduates should never have to settle on an employer that doesn’t have the same interests as them or organizations that don’t see the value of well executed communications.

”Whatever your passion is, you can do it.  A career in communications allows you to take your skills and interests and apply them.” She adds that if a company doesn’t value communications, it’s impossible to change them. “You really have to know your own value. Find a company that values communications.”

She leaves new communicators with the same piece of advice that she follows herself: “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” It’s your career to negotiate, after all.


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Government communications ideal for this grad

Posted by bwaite on November 24, 2008

By Jessica Wolfraim, Class of 2009

Grad Murray Gaudreau

Grad Murray Gaudreau

When Murray Gaudreau began Centennial College’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program in January 2002, he was uncertain about his communications skills and abilities.  However, Centennial’s program quickly changed that.

For Gaudreau, an issues co-ordinator for the Ontario Ministry of Education and Chatham-Kent-Essex’s New Democratic Party leader, the program provided him with a sense of confidence — the basis of his successful communications career.  “Centennial helped me figure out that I am good at what I do,” he recalls.  “After graduation you are able to go into the job and know you have the skills to succeed.”

But this PR practitioner ultimately credits Centennial’s qualified and experienced instructors for teaching him the fundamentals.  “The faculty really gives you the inside knowledge that you need.  They provide the basics plus a lot of tips and guidance.  And they show you how to become a contributing member of the team.”

While Gaudreau gained a great deal of experience from the program, his Field Placement proved to be the most beneficial.  During the midpoint of his internship with the Ontario Ministry of Education’s public affairs unit, the ministry offered him a full-time contract position.

Today, six years later, he works as an issues co-ordinator for the media relations unit.  His position involves establishing issues management plans and crafting key messages for the Ministry of Education.

The lessons from Centennial’s nine-month communications and public relations program also became highly advantageous for Gaudreau during his October 2007 political campaign for MPP in his hometown riding in Chatham-Kent-Essex, Ont.  In fact, the skills he acquired at Centennial were a great help to his campaign.  “The Presentation Skills course was particularly good… it gave me a formalized approach to writing speeches.”

So what does this PR practitioner recommend to those interested in a communications career within the government?  “Be committed to what you do by giving 100 per cent all the time,” he says.  But Gaudreau’s best advice is even more insightful.  “Life is a team sport and it takes a lot of people to make a product a success, so welcome the advice and suggestions of others.

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Grad finds love for event management

Posted by bwaite on November 21, 2008

By Jen Burkholder, Class of ‘09

Grad Meg Sweeney

Grad Meg Sweeney

“High touch” – two words Meg Sweeney uses to describe Centennial’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program.


Sweeney, a graduate of the class of 2006, attributes much of her success in the field of event marketing and planning to the faculty and courses at the college.

“The program really prepares you,” says Sweeney, “everything is relevant.

According to the young professional, the program faculty also has a lot to do with the success of its students.

“Their doors were always open; they were easy to talk to and they were always responsive to our needs,” Sweeney explains. She credits program coordinator, Christine Smith, for recognizing her interest and talents, and encouraging her to pursue them. “She told me I was glowing every time I talked about Yellow House.”

Graduating just over three years ago, Sweeney is now the Senior Account Executive for the Toronto’s Yellow House Events. From her Client Project course,  to her Field Placement, to her present full time position, the job was a good fit from the start. The company works on events, specializing in product launches, galas, golf tournaments and conferences and is owned by the dynamic Grail Noble. It is located in a quaint, stylish office in the Distillery District.

During her semester at Centennial, Sweeney fell in love with event management.  The Wilfrid Laurier University graduate soon took it upon herself to plan the class Christmas dinner and end-of-the-year gathering. She now finds herself planning events and product launches with Yellow House for companies such as RIM and TELUS. She enjoys paying attention to details while envisioning the larger picture, and creating a lasting impression for her clients.

“It’s really rewarding when you can look at the bottom line and feel a sense of responsibility and achievement.”

Sweeney acknowledges the program for its networking opportunities, suggesting fellow grads become the people you rely on once you’re working in the field. She credits the guaranteed internship as a great way to gain experience, apply the skills learned in the program and expand these networking relationships.

Sweeney’s best tip for junior communicators?  Stay informed and keep on top of the ever-shifting trends in the industry. She recommends doing research and talking with professionals to better understand where you fit.

At the same time, she reminds young professionals to be creative and innovative. Her position at Yellow House Events allows her to do just that.

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“Centennial taught me everything I know”

Posted by bwaite on November 21, 2008


Nadia Radovini

Nadia Radovini

By Mohit Sharma, Class of 2009

For Nadia Radovini, Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, it was the corporate communications program at Centennial College that helped her recognize her writing skills and passion for communications.

“Centennial taught me everything I know today. The communications program taught me all the hands-on skills I use in my profession every day. I am grateful to my instructors for that,” says Radovini.

Radovini has been in communications for the past 12 years. It began with her taking up a voluntary public relations (PR) assignment with the Credit Valley Hospital in 1996. She enjoyed the position so much that in 1998, while in her third year at York University, she enrolled in the Joint Program in Corporate Communications at Centennial College. She graduated in 2001.  

“PR is much more than glamour and meeting new people every day. I realized this while pursuing this program and volunteering for the health care sector,” says Radovini. “Actually I would call myself a communicator rather than a PR person. The term PR sounds more like dealing with the public, which we do, but only to an extent.”

Radovini has been with Sunnybrook since 2002. She handles both internal and external communications for the hospital’s Neurosciences program. She has been rewarded for her work both in position and salary. She joined Sunnybrook as a Public Affairs Officer and was later promoted to the position of Communications Advisor. She credits Centennial’s communications program for her current success.

“I feel I am cut out for this job. I can’t work in an environment where I just have to push ideas or products. I really enjoy this work,” says Radovini, sharing her passion for the health care sector. “I feel I am contributing to something worthwhile; this industry truly affects us all.”

Radovini was also at the forefront of the hospital’s communications when the SARS issue broke in 2003. “The outbreak was the most challenging experience. Our work included attending war room meetings and regular communication to staff. Responding to more than 50 media requests a day, proactively and reactively providing the media and our publics with current and otherwise unattainable information during quarantine periods,” says Radovini, recalling her difficult,  and yet most successful assignment to date.

She leaves the following message for aspiring communicators: “Follow your instructors because what they teach in class really helps in your profession. Have strong work ethics, humility to learn new things,  be confident, yet open to learning.

“And volunteer, it helps you in making contacts and future references. Sometimes people don’t have jobs for you but they remember the good work. Volunteering gets you closer to what you love and aspire for in life. It can open up opportunities that you may not get otherwise”


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Students produce “real world” events

Posted by bwaite on November 14, 2008

One of the most “hands on” courses Centennial PR students take is Event Management (CN-145).  Led by the ever wise, ever energetic faculty member Jessie May Rowntree, students create and produce full-scale events in semester one. 

The course demands that students also find sponsors willing to help  defray the events’ costs. Most years, students also raise significant sums for local charities. This year is no exception.

In the coming weeks, Centennial’s PR students will see all of their hard work come to life as they produce the following events:

“Havana Nights,”  a salsa lesson and silent auction,  taking place November 18 at Whistler’s, one of our neighbourhood restaurants;

Won’t You Charleston With Me?,”a Roaring Twenties dance and cocktail event and fund raiser for Variety, the Children’s Charity of Ontario.  It takes place November 19 at Myth on the Danforth;

“Comedy for the Cause,” in support of Friends for Life Foundation, November 26 at Yuk Yuk’s on Richmond Street;

Arts in the Limelight,” a night celebratiang music and art, held November 27 at the Black Swan Tavern on Danforth Avenue; funds raised go to support Inner City Angels;

Drink and Think,”  planned for  November 28 at the Ontario Bartending School on Danforth Avenue.

As well, a group of students has organized our annual Corp Comm and PR Day for their classmates on November 20.  That’s a day when we cancel classes to enjoy PR-related events, games, and socializing.

This kind of real world training is what the CC+PR program at Centennial is all about.  Why not consider applying to the program if this is the kind of learning you want?

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