The Word

about Centennial’s Corporate Communications + PR program

Archive for March, 2009

Grad recommends not-for-profit sector

Posted by bwaite on March 26, 2009

Grad Virginia Middleton

Grad Virginia Middleton

By T.J. Goertz, Class of 2009

Anyone looking to enter the exciting, rewarding world of not-for-profit communications should look to Virginia Middleton for inspiration.

A 2005 graduate of Centennial’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations program, Middleton has parlayed her love of PR into a dream job at Kids Help Phone in downtown Toronto. She was hired there in August, 2007, after a successful internship with the St. John’s Fog Devils hockey team and a year working with Palette PR, a Toronto-based boutique agency.

While only in her second year at Kids Help Phone, Middleton already says she’s definitely in it for the long haul at the youth telephone and Internet counselling organization.

“At the end of the day, you’re helping to do something really good. I know that sounds cheesy and lame, but it’s true … at Kids Help Phone it’s a really unique situation. It’s fun to go to work.”

Small team handles a lot

As one of only two full-time members of her department, Middleton uses many of the skills she learned while at Centennial, ranging from media relations to event management to writing editorial copy.

“I’m really glad I decided to go to Centennial. So many things I think were triggered from that. If I hadn’t learned some of the skills and taken the courses in the program, I don’t think I’d be in such a great position as I am now.” She admits she didn’t have much PR experience before entering grad school.

Choosing Centennial College’s PR program meant relocating far from home for this 2004 graduate of Memorial University in Newfoundland.

The 27-year-old is on Kids Help Phone front line when it comes to media relations. She has already gotten some big-time event management experience when she worked closely on a local and national level with Kids Help Phone’s biggest fundraiser – the Bell Walk for Kids Help Phone – last May. Middleton has been tagged to lead the event’s PR and advertising planning in 2010, something she’s really looking forward to.

“If there’s one thing I could brag about for Kids Help Phone, it’s the mentoring. My manager supports me so much,” says Middleton, a native of Newfoundland. “And our senior leadership team is amazing.”

As one of Canada’s leading authorities on youth-related issues, Kids Help Phone is frequently contacted by the media for expert commentary on hot button issues such as violence or cyber-bullying. That lets Middleton go home knowing she has made a positive difference.

“It’s also great that when you’re doing the PR and media relations; we’re not the bad guy. We’re not a big corporation chopping down trees or destroying the environment. We’re helping children,” she says.


Posted in Grads | Leave a Comment »

Grad loving the excitement of a small agency

Posted by bwaite on March 12, 2009


Grad Kate Hillyar

by Leanne Bull, Class of 2009

Less than a year after graduating from Centennial’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations (CC+PR) program, Kate Hillyar went on her first press tour – to the Dominican Republic.

Press tours are one of Hillyar’s many responsibilities in her position at Siren Communications. Siren is an agency specializing in public relations for travel and tourism. “Our clients include five-star resorts in the Caribbean, United States, Europe and Canada,” Hillyar says. “One of our clients is the entire country of the Dominican Republic.”

Hillyar entered the CC+PR program in Jan. 2007. She loved learning about social media, media relations and PR writing. “I also loved copy editing because it comes naturally to me,” she adds.

Hillyar completed her field placement at Siren. She loved getting first-hand experience at a small agency. “The thing about interning here is that because there are only seven employees, the intern is essentially an account co-ordinator,” Hillyar explains. “Interns get to do things they wouldn’t be able to at bigger PR agencies, like lots of writing!”

Hillyar was kept on staff after her internship. “I went from being an intern to being a PR assistant, doing double duty,” Hillyar explains. “Then an opportunity opened up and I got hired as an account coordinator.” Hillyar recently got promoted to account manager, with the added responsibility of handling her own accounts.

Hillyar was fortunate enough to have a mentor when she started at Siren. “When I first started, an account director took me on and really helped me integrate into my role,” she recalls. “She really taught me how to apply what I learned at Centennial to my work at Siren.”

Aside from press tours, Hillyar has extensive media relations responsibilities. Hillyar believes that the CC+PR program really prepared her in dealing with the media. “In the media relations class they teach you how to look at the media from a new angle,” Hillyar says. “They teach you how to target the right audience.”

Hillyar admits that her job has been a learning experience, but feels Centennial gave her the skills to get started in her career.

Hillyar has a number of tips for those looking to get into the field of CC+PR. “Practice writing as much possible, and try to know as much as you can about your client,” she suggests. “Your contacts are everything, so networking is essential!”

Posted in Grads | Leave a Comment »

CC & PR grad tips the employability scale

Posted by bwaite on March 12, 2009


Grad Ashley Tilley

by Julia Salerno, Class of 2009

Landing a job was as easy as A-B-C for the recent Centennial graduate, Ashley Tilley. She credits the Corporate Communications and Public Relations program for her speedy transition into full-time employment.

As the communications co-ordinator for the ABC Literacy Foundation, Tilley puts to use the technical skills she learned at school. “I was taught a framework of skills and now I’m building on them,” Tilley said. “I use those skills everyday,” she furthered.

Tilley admits that she is relatively new to the PR biz. Although she doesn’t claim to know it all, she offers some tips that could help ease the transition from school to work. Her first tip: Write and write often. “It’s something you can never get enough practice doing,” she said. Whether it’s a press release or a website update, more than half of her day is spent writing.

Next on Tilley’s tip list is networking. “It’s important to establish contacts before you’re finished school; you never know who you’re going to meet, or where your going to end up,” Tilley recommended. The once timid networker assures that it gets easier with time. “Just try to remember that they’re probably feeling just as awkward as you are,” she suggested.

Tilley does a lot of networking for work and regrets not doing more while she was in school. “I volunteered with ABC when I was in school, a position opened up and that’s how I got hired,” Tilley said.

Her third tip: build your resume with volunteer experience. “It’ll give you an advantage over the competition,” Tilley said. “It’s a great way to gain valuable exposure before you enter the workforce,” she advised. Tilley measures her current success by recalling her Centennial experience.

“I left Centennial feeling confident and capable,” Tilley said. “I know that wherever my career takes me, I’ll always be prepared.”

Posted in Grads | Leave a Comment »