Working in communications was never the plan.
When I enrolled at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, I had grand plans to get a Bachelor of Arts in English, followed by a Bachelor of Education so that I could teach English. Throughout high school English teachers had been my heroes and friends, so it felt like a natural step. The flaw in my plan came to light towards the end of my English degree when I was reminded that I don’t particularly enjoy the company of children. On a whim I applied for a Bachelor of Journalism program at the University of King’s College in Halifax, NS.
A year later I was on a plane to Yellowknife, NT with a suitcase and my dog Fizz. While working as a reporter I had my first contact with communications specialists, public relations advisors, and others in the profession. Being on one side of the proverbial tracks and the communications contacts I worked with (or against) on the other, I came to respect the work they did. Sure, my journalism colleagues called them the Dark Side but after a year and a half I found myself accepting a communications role in the mining industry and getting a red light saber of my very own.
With my roundabout path into a career in communications, I had little to no idea about the training, theory, best practices, or ethics of the industry. As I settled into my first communications role my mentor was heavily involved in CPRS and introduced me to this amazing community through my first CPRS conference in Kelowna, BC. During that conference I was a sponge, soaking up the strategy and tactics of practitioners during the sessions and reaching out to everyone possible at the mixers and events to learn more. CPRS was truly a lifeline for someone like me who was brand new to the industry.
As I continued in my role, I kept in close contact with CPRS especially after moving to Calgary. I remember attending a lunch-and-learn at the Calgary Zoo and meeting people who were not only welcoming, but rock stars in the field who were more than happy to share the things they’d learned. A sense of belonging to CPRS and to the profession grew and was honed through putting our small but mighty in-house team’s strategies to the test by applying for the CPRS Awards of Excellence. Two more galas, two new jobs and a few awards later, and I feel happily cemented in my membership.
At the stage I’m at in my career I’m focusing on working towards my Accreditation in Public Relations and, eventually, wanting to mentor other newbies to CPRS – especially those who come from a journalism background like me. This organization is great for practitioners from all backgrounds, and the atmosphere of shared knowledge and mutual growth seeps into your veins.
If you’re new to communications take it from me – take a leap and join CPRS – like the Dark Side, we have cookies.
By Candace Thomson. Candace is a Communications Advisor with Nutrien Ag Solutions and has worked in corporate communications for six years.