The Word

about Centennial’s Corporate Communications + PR program

Archive for January, 2009

Grad Successful Entrepreneur

Posted by bwaite on January 8, 2009

By Nikki Kerimova, Class of 2010


Jennifer Beale graduated from the joint Centennial College and York University Public Relations and Corporate Communications program in 1997 and since then has carved out a unique career path for herself. Starting out in a PR agency, she eventually opened her own PR firm, Unleash PR.

With a staff of four people, no day is the same for this entrepreneur. Unleash PR represents experts in different areas in hopes of helping them help people. Beale uses the help of experts to achieve personal success. As she notes: “If you want success, you get people who are already successful [in that field] to get you there.”

She frequently takes workshops in different areas, to keep educating herself and stay on top of the field. She has never belonged to IABC or CPRS, finding that self education is most valuable. Beale also teaches a few workshops herself. “I teach them [the audience] in one day what took me ten years to learn.” In fact, Beale even takes workshops by the experts she represents as part of their payment.

Some of the experts she represents include ones that specialize in marketing, real estate and franchise. Her strategy is that surrounding oneself with experts makes her a mini expert in a few different fields. “When you have a problem, go and get the best person,” says Beale. That is the thinking behind her business.

Even though she has no formal training in business, Beale managed to make a six-figure income within five months of opening Unleash PR. This was done by hiring an expert who guided her business decisions. The next
move for Unleash PR is franchising, which is why Beale has recently attended franchising workshops and hanging out with a franchising expert. “I never wanted to manage people,” She decided, instead, to expand her business in a different way.

Beale reveals that she still has some materials from her Centennial days. One is a guideline that she uses to help her when leading seminars. Her job has taught her to incorporate everything she learned in school and working in agencies and to use that knowledge to create a successful PR firm. “I love being a businesswoman.”


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Don’t have a cow. Have a sense of humour.

Posted by bwaite on January 7, 2009

Grad,Class of 2002

Olivia Yu, Class of 2002

by Brittney Ashley

Olivia Yu never thought sourcing a cow for an event would be part of her career in corporate communications.  But she says being able to laugh and have fun is essential to success in her field.   “You get called in to do a lot of crazy things,” said Yu, a graduate of Centennial’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program.

Yu needed a cow to roam a life-size roulette board for a 4H club fundraiser.  “We were selling tickets like a 50/50 lottery.  Wherever the cow went, that was the winning number,” said Yu, a consultant at Environics Communications in Toronto.

Yu’s sense of humour has taken her far since graduating from Centennial in 2002.  From her internship at Direct Energy, to the financial services team at Environics, Yu depends on the skills and advice she received at Centennial.

“I think the biggest thing I took from Centennial is network, network, network.  Every single job I’ve had has been from networking.  I didn’t believe it as a student.  But, seriously, you have to do it,” says Yu.

Yu made important contacts as a volunteer on the Canadian Public Relations Society student committee.  Volunteering, which is stressed at Centennial, can also help budding public relations professionals gain valuable skills.

“Volunteering counts because people want to know, ‘What have you done?’  And,  if you respond, ‘I’ve been a student,’ that’s the wrong answer because you could always volunteer,” said Yu.

Charities are happy to let students gain experience writing news releases, a skill Yu uses all the time.

She credits Centennial with her knowledge of other useful skills, such as graphic and web design. “Just knowing terminology, like what a pixel is, puts you on better footing with suppliers.  You can talk on the same wavelength.  You know what you’re asking for,” says Yu.

Pixels and HTML may seem foreign to some, but Yu says it is crucial to remain open-minded in the corporate communications field.

Yu never thought she would like working at a PR agency.  But she began craving a fast-paced environment.  “So I went to an agency and I thought, ‘This is kind of cool,’” said Yu.  “Don’t shoot down opportunities that you think are so not you, because you never know what you’ll like until you try.”

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