The Word

about Centennial’s Corporate Communications + PR program

Grad loving the excitement of a small agency

Posted by bwaite on March 12, 2009

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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!”

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