Wednesday, June 10, 2009

PR excellence, prairie-style

At its annual awards gala in Vancouver last night, the Canadian Public Relations Society (“CPRS”) recognized the best and the brightest in the Canadian public relations industry. The winners were from top-ranked agencies, governments and businesses across the country; and as you might imagine, a large percentage of the winners were from Toronto and its environs.  But two of  last night’s major awards show that Manitoba is growing into a centre of excellence in PR.

First, I am proud that Red River College’s own Steve St. Louis received The CPRS/CNW Student Award of Excellence, which recognizes the outstanding public relations student in Canada.  Steve is a more than deserving recipient of this award, having demonstrated outstanding leadership, skills, and insight throughout his studies in our Creative Communications program. I’ve no doubt that he’s a future leader in our industry.

I also noted that Winnipeg’s ChangeMakers Marketing Communications received a CPRS National Award of Excellence in the Electronic & Interactive category.  ChangeMakers has been a trailblazer in integrated marketing communications for a number of years, and I’m glad to see them recognized by the industry nationally. It happens too infrequently for practitioners in the prairies.

We put a new focus on social media and its role in public relations, advertising, and journalism in the Creative Communications program this year, and are working to incorporate even more interactive and Web 2.0 media in the curriculum for the academic year to come.  Our grads come equipped with all the strategic, writing, public speaking, campaign development, and production skills employers are looking for – and they also have an extra edge over many of their more experienced competitors in the job market: they understand the power of social media, and know how to use it to help clients meet their objectives.

Portage and Main may not be Bay Street – but our little PR community is doing great work, and is spawning excellent firms that help organizations benefit from the power of social media.  In addition to ChangeMakers, check out Dooley Communications and ICUC Moderation Services – they’re all helping their clients interact with their audiences in new ways through social media.

I’m happy for ChangeMakers and proud of Steve and his classmates, and am excited about the future of PR in Manitoba.  Check out the full list of CPRS National Awards of Excellence in The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business today, or see the list online.


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