Talk Is Cheap 7.0: The return of our social media conference

Posted by Camille Wallace, student, class of Spring 2015

Only two short months after beginning Centennial’s corporate communications and public relations program, myself and five talented students came together to host Talk is Cheap.

t1

Talk is Cheap 7.0 team (L to R): Lynda Jess, Alison Gavan, Anna Muir, Nikita Patel, Nancy Cho and Camille Wallace

 

We were extremely excited (and a bit nervous) to coordinate the seventh incarnation of Talk is Cheap. Hosting a keynote event for Centennial College came with high expectations, but we were up for the challenge.

Each year Talk is Cheap relates a subject to social media. Based on the widespread use of social media platforms, we chose to discuss the importance of branding on social media. The night began with a panel discussion moderated by Martin Waxman and included panelists: Mark Munroe, Richard Marginson and Monika Rola. We encouraged guests and Tweeters to join the conversation using the hashtag #TALK7. We had participation from not only our guests, but from interested Twitter users from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Panel discussion moderator, Martin Waxman and panelists: Mark Munroe, Monika Rola and Richard Marginson

Panel discussion moderator, Martin Waxman and panelists: Mark Munroe, Monika Rola and Richard Marginson

Talk is Cheap also featured 12 workshops hosted by top industry professionals on topics including crisis management, digital media, selfie culture and media relations. Workshop hosts in attendance included Brad Ross, executive director of corporate communications and lead media spokesperson ‎for the TTC and Heather MacGregor, corporate communications and media relations coordinator at LCBO.

Heather MacGregor, LCBO

Heather MacGregor, LCBO

Brad Ross, TTC

Brad Ross, TTC

Although Talk is Cheap is not a charity event, we wanted to help support Leave Out Violence Ontario (LOVE), an organization committed to helping youth affected by violence. We contacted a variety of sponsors who generously donated towards our raffle. Thanks to our sponsors and guests we raised a grand total of $600 for LOVE’s media arts program.

Guests donating in support of LOVE

Guests donating in support of LOVE

At the end of the day we had an amazing experience coordinating Talk is Cheap 7.0 and we’re sad it’s over. We learned a lot from planning our first PR event and want to share a few event-planning tips:

  1. Be flexible – Things don’t always go according to plan, but this isn’t the end of the world, stay calm and remember everything will be okay.
  1. Have a backup plan – Sometimes plan A doesn’t work out, so make sure you have a plan B and even C just in case.
  1. Talk to your guests – It’s important to keep your guests happy. Talking to them is the best way to ensure they’re having a great time.
  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself – Things won’t always be perfect, so don’t stress the small things.
  1. Everyone loves food – Having several food sponsors donate not only helped minimized costs, but also kept our guests very happy.

Thank you to all of our sponsors, volunteers and guests for making Talk is Cheap 7.0 a success. A very special thank you to Barry Waite for your support, we couldn’t have done it without you.

New friends and plenty of talent at the Story Arts Centre for CCPR

Posted by Anthony Ou, student, class of Spring 2015

The past 14 weeks at Centennial College have been loaded with networking opportunities, writing exercises, group meetings, group outings and plenty of new friends. The one-year postgrad certificate program in Corporate Communications and Public Relations at Centennial (#CCPR) has stood out for me as being one of the best learning experiences so far.

Several students from CCPR celebrating CCPR's Story Arts Centre campus’s Beerfest event

Several students from CCPR celebrating CCPR’s Story Arts Centre campus’s Beerfest event

CCPR has two campuses (one in Toronto and another in Pickering) but the standout quality about the Story Arts Centre campus in Toronto where I’m studying, is how tight-knit the community is, from my peers, to the professors and faculty, to the other students on campus. For us, we’re right next to Greektown in Toronto and have the bragging rights of studying at the same school in which they filmed the original “Degrassi High” series. We have the fortune of being under the same roof as all the other creative communications programs that Centennial has to offer, such as advertising, journalism and digital animation. You could just call us the cool kids!

The professors truly are superstars. They excel at what they do and bring many years of experience working in the PR industry. By practicing what they preach, this gives students the chance to gain confidence in what they’re learning. The professors motivate students by giving each and every student the attention they require in order to help them succeed. I haven’t had any mentors who have been so passionate about teaching and wanting their pupils to succeed more than these.

A group of CCPR students supporting their colleagues at one of the CCPR student-run charity events, More Than Just a Brew

A group of CCPR students supporting their colleagues at one of the CCPR student-run charity events, More Than Just a Brew

Having recently graduated from the University of Toronto, it was actually a nice change to be able to share the next year of my life with 35 others in my section who are also very passionate about PR. We spend five days a week together, but we’ve become so close that we make plans to see each other on the weekend too! Come to think of it, we probably see each other more than our own families. We’ve become our own little family. Karaoke, dancing and Secret Santa – we’re doing it all and we’re doing it up. We’ve so far shared plenty of laughs, especially when we’re given freedom, in class, to creatively solve business problems using PR. Or we just laugh because our professors are just so quotable. “Flimsy business cards equals flimsy people,” says writing professor Vivienne McCuaig. It’s true.

Many CCPR students attended Centennial College’s 1000 Dinners event, which stimulated conversation about reimagining public spaces, part of Project Fusion and in collaboration with CivicAction

Many CCPR students attended Centennial College’s 1000 Dinners event, which stimulated conversation about reimagining public spaces, part of Project Fusion and in collaboration with CivicAction

Outside of the classroom, we have the opportunity to join CPRS and IABC events (depending on the membership we registered for at the beginning of the program). There are plenty of networking events, field trips to PR agencies and opportunities to connect with working PR professionals. Our campus also hosts Project Fusion, a student group taking on complex civic issues and presenting innovative solutions to better communities in the GTA. You can check out some Project Fusion initiatives from previous years here and here, with many students from CCPR. It’s a very immersive experience!

It’s only been 14 weeks, but as our first semester draws to an end for the holidays, I can’t wait to take this knowledge and training with me next semester, as my colleagues and I all vie for coveted field placement opportunities. I think it’s safe to say that we are all so hyped for what’s next. Stay tuned!

CCPR students raise $23,150 for charity: Section two highlights

Posted by Teri Clark, student, class of Spring 2015

Raising $23,150 for charity is no easy feat, but Centennial’s corporate communications and public relations students managed to do it, and on a $0-budget. With no budget and very little event planning experience, this project seemed near impossible to me. I’m sure some of my colleagues felt the same, but with the help of our instructors and some quality teamwork, every event turned out to be a huge success. I’ll be highlighting the five events of CCPR’s Section Two.
The first event was More Than Just a Brew, a charity coffee and tea tasting event in support of Evergreen at Aroma Espresso Bar. With fantastic raffle prizes, live entertainment, and unique teas and coffees for guests to try, the event was a success. The group even managed to secure some media coverage from The Toronto Star (huge PR kudos for that!)

Tea leaves on display at More Than Just a Brew

Tea leaves on display at More Than Just a Brew

Braeden Mitchell, Indie Week Artist performing at More Than Just a Brew

Braeden Mitchell, Indie Week Artist performing at More Than Just a Brew

The next event was No Laughing Matter, a comedy-themed event in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) at the Bad Dog Comedy Theatre. This group of students secured some awesome high-profile talent: Rebecca Kohler (Toronto’s Best Female Stand-Up in 2013), Mark Little (you know, the guy from Mr. D!), Sandro Veri, Craig Anderson and Colin Munch. The comedians had us in stitches from start to finish, and the team of organizers drove home some important messages about mental health.

No Laughing Matter organizers (L to R): (Top row) Mike Hajmasy, Katie Heffernan, Lukas Pesa, (bottom row) Brianna Hurley, Ali Seller and Sarah May

No Laughing Matter organizers (L to R): (Top row) Mike Hajmasy, Katie Heffernan, Lukas Pesa, (bottom row) Brianna Hurley, Ali Seller and Sarah May

Mark Little at No Laughing Matter

Mark Little at No Laughing Matter

The organizers of ART HAUS T.O. did an incredible job of converting The Original Grooming Experts barbershop into a trendy art gallery with live entertainment, all in support of Greenhope for Children. With Gary Levy hosting, performances by Of Gentlemen & Cowards and Wolf J MacFarlane, and even some media coverage from OMNI, it really felt like a high-profile event. You’d never guess this group pulled it off with a $0-budget!

ART HAUS T.O. team: (from left) Ranjit Dhatt, Melanie LeBlanc, Pablo Crespo, Vivian Kwong, Chloe Stanois and Jessica Cheng, with Of Gentlement and Cowards (back)

ART HAUS T.O. team: (from left) Ranjit Dhatt, Melanie LeBlanc, Pablo Crespo, Vivian Kwong, Chloe Stanois and Jessica Cheng, with Of Gentlement and Cowards (back)

A full "haus" at The Original Grooming Experts

A full “haus” at The Original Grooming Experts

Next, the A Skating Chance team hosted a free skate at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (former Maple Leaf Gardens) in support of Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart charity. A Skating Chance was a day full of skating, games, tasty snacks and hot chocolate, and some amazing raffle and silent auction prizes like a signed Maple Leafs jersey by Nazem Kadri (very fitting for the event!).

Free skate at Mattamy Athletic Centre for A Skating Chance

Free skate at Mattamy Athletic Centre for A Skating Chance

Raffle time at A Skating Chance

Raffle time at A Skating Chance

The last event was A Wilki Night Out, a silent auction fundraiser in support of extracurricular funding for Wilkinson Junior Public School. Held at a beautiful venue called The Forth, parents of Wilkinson students had the chance to socialize and raise some money for the school. The Wilki Night Out team raised $5,043 overall and broke the record for most money raised by CCPR students.

Auction items on display at  A Wilki Night Out

Auction items on display at A Wilki Night Out

A Wilki Night Out was held at an elegant venue, The Forth

A Wilki Night Out was held at an elegant venue, The Forth

Reflecting upon the first semester

Posted by Madison Downey, student, class of Spring 2015

A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by an old friend who was curious about the CCPR program and how I was faring. “Is it worthwhile?” she asked. My first instinct was to question how high sleeping and showering regularly were on her list of priorities. But instead I went for a more straightforward and honest response – absolutely.

Madison (3rd from left) with her team for their charity event

Madison (second from right) with her team for their charity event, Rise Up!

A part of what made my first semester at Centennial so phenomenal was not just what I was learning, but whom I was learning from – industry professionals and some of the best in the business. Coming from a large university, I’d never had the opportunity to get to know any of my instructors in a meaningful way. From the very first week in CCPR I knew this would no longer be the case. The support I received from my instructors truly exceeded my expectations. I was always encouraged to share my thoughts and opinions, something I took full advantage of, sometimes to their chagrin (I kind of like to talk). They set their standards high, but most of the time we measured up, and you could always tell they were genuinely invested in your success.

I’ve spent over 350 hours with my classmates this semester. Between class time and group work, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many of them very well. While we’ve certainly had our ups and downs, it’s truly incredibly what a group can accomplish when we work together. For this semester’s project and event management course, our group raised more than $1000 for a local women’s shelter on a zero dollar budget. The sense of accomplishment we felt at the end was phenomenal.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my first semester in this program it’s that we have a tendency to underestimate what we are capable of. I worked incredibly hard, and there were times when I was sure I would fail (especially when I had to learn to spell without autocorrect). But I never did. From writing media releases to creating a business plan, this program made juggling an intense schedule feel less like a burden and more like an accomplishment. With every class and assignment and I began to realize just how valuable these experiences were. As this semester comes to an end, I can look back on it and say with certainty that I made the right choice. I’ll be leaving Centennial with new friendships, confidence, and the skills I need to succeed in the professional world.

CCPR students raise $23,150 for Toronto charities

By Melise Brereton, student, class of Spring 2015

Students at the Story Arts Centre and the Pickering Learning Centre raised $23,150 during the Fall 2014 event season, creating a new record for the CCPR program.

CCPR True Beauty Team

CCPR True Beauty Team

 

As part of the highly anticipated Event and Project Management course, students worked in groups to raise funds for local charities with a $0 starting budget. The class requires students to plan and execute a special event for a local charity. After limited planning times, students began throwing their events starting on November 12. Under the leadership of Jentzen Brown, Section 1 of the CCPR program at the Story Arts Centre combined their efforts and exhibited their skills and hard work at seven stellar events.

Students and guests at Breakfast Pursuit

Students and guests at Breakfast Pursuit

“I was nervous and excited at the same!” said student Melanie Jones,”I couldn’t imagine how planning a successful event would go with no money to start.” The entire class however, started pounding the pavement as soon as groups were assigned. The outcome was skillfully executed events hosted throughout Toronto, featuring performers, key note speakers and fun-filled activities.

Rise Up! Event Team

Rise Up! Event Team

Several students noted that the real world experience is difficult but worthwhile. “Having full control over planning this event is amazing. You can see all your hard work being brought to life,” said student Rachel Kvolek.

Congratulations to all students and instructors for your work. Your achievements are appreciated!

Ugly Sweaters Make Lives Better Team

Ugly Sweaters Make Lives Better Team

Here is a list of charities that benefited from 2014 events:

  • Look Good Feel Better
  • Children’s Breakfast Club
  • Interval House
  • Variety Village
  • Kids Now Canada
  • SKETCH
  • Red Door

Check out photos from this semester’s events.

Stand Up For Kids Now Team

Stand Up For Kids Now Team

Art in Action Team

Art in Action Team

Behind the Door team

Behind the Door team

Saying yes to college and CCPR

CCPR student Mike Hajmasy is all thumbs up for the post-grad program

CCPR student Mike Hajmasy is all thumbs up for the post-grad program

By Mike Hajmasy, student, class of Spring 2015

For those of you who are wondering – yes, the corporate communications and public relations program at Centennial College is nothing like what you experienced at university. If your years of academia were anything like mine, this is music to your ears.

I graduated from Wilfrid Laurier with an HBA in communication studies last year, and while I was proud of my accomplishment, I felt like I had very few of the work-ready skills necessary for the professional world. I began researching postgraduate options, much like you may be doing now, and chose Centennial College.

Having just finished the first half of an action-packed eight-month program, I’d like to impart my wisdom in the hopes of making your decision a little bit easier. Here are a few things you should know about Centennial’s CCPR program:

1. There’s never a dull moment

The CCPR program aims to equip you with all of the skills you’ll need in the world of public relations in just eight months. The program is divided into two terms, with seven courses in each – yes, seven. This means you’re almost always working on something, but it trains you to perform under pressure and to manage your time. Embrace your calendar and enjoy the ride.

2. The instructors are supportive, experienced professionals

Your instructors truly on your side and willing to help you in any way that they can. Gone are the days of student ID numbers, scary exam halls and oversized classes. Here, the classroom environment is close-knit and the instructors get to know each and every student. They also come with years of real world experience, which means their advice isn’t based on theory alone.

3. There’s an event-planning course

This is unique to Centennial’s CCPR program and a very worthwhile experience. In groups, you’ll plan unique, creative events on a $0-budget in support of a local charity of your choosing. I’ll admit, when the term began this task was nothing shy of daunting. But every group performed and together we raised over $11,000.

4. There are plenty of opportunities to meet industry professionals

Guest speakers, networking events and trips to agencies are commonplace in this program. Bob Richardson (head of John Tory’s communications campaign) and Brad Ross (head of communications for the TTC) are just two of the industry professionals we’ve had the opportunity to meet this term.

5. You’ll learn to love group work…I think

Is group work a challenge at times? Absolutely – but learning to excel in a collaborative environment is key. You aren’t always going to love the people you work with, but finding a way to leverage individual talents for overall success is a valuable skill that you’ll develop at Centennial.

Making the decision to come back to school isn’t an easy one, but hopefully this has helped you get a better understanding of Centennial’s CCPR program and the applied style of learning it offers.

The best public relations program there is!

By Donna Lindell, Program Coordinator and Professor

It’s hard to believe yet another semester has passed. Seventy students, who 14 weeks ago barely knew the definition of public relations, are now skilled when it comes to event planning, social media platforms and discerning between a tactic and an objective… and so much more!

class of 2014

Section Two on a Field Trip to PR agency Strategic Objectives, November 2014

This program is not for the faint of heart. It’s for the roll-up-your sleeves, pay attention, work hard, work together type of person who has the drive to succeed.  Seven courses, 24-hours of classes a week aToolsnd countless hours doing real-world assignments, independently as well as in groups, but if you ask any of them, it’s all worth it. Ask any alumni. Or take a look at some of the blog posts on this site, written by students, on their experiences. They are the best ones to turn to for advice on whether to take this program and set yourself on course for a rewarding and exciting career in public relations!

Embedded image permalinkMe, I’m the professor, and the program coordinator. I have more than 20-years of experience in the industry and three years teaching. I’ve worked in agency, non-profit and corporate. I’ve won awards. Still, the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done as a professional is teach. I get to watch the profound transformation of about 100 students each year, who take charge of their future and become competent and determined professionals. Every year, these students get smarter, more mature and more capable. They learn invaluable lessons beyond the classroom – lessons about group dynamics and leadership, time management and organization.  And of course, they learn valuable lessons from a team of experienced faculty, in courses ranging from Business to Measurement to Copy Editing and Social Media.

I am so proud of the students I teach and what they become. And it is messages like these that make it all worth it.

amanda

Thinking about applying? Follow me on Twitter at @fiveyearnapper or the hashtag #ccpr.


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