I manage all the communications outreach for Environmental Defence and lead a team of communications specialists. I'm responsible for maintaining our brand and our reputation as well as building awareness for the issues we work on, using everything from traditional advertising to media relations to social media.
I recently participated in an editorial board briefing with John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and the former chief of staff to president Bill Clinton. The discussion was about the global race toward clean energy.
I did my undergrad degree at Western in English and took a post-graduate certificate at Humber College in public relations.
Humber's crisis communications course and the course called PR In The Non-profit Environment taught us how to mobilize people to take action. It was a great introduction to working at a PR agency, a corporation or a non-profit organization, especially one like ours, which seeks to mobilize our supporters.
At first, the idea of hobnobbing with celebrities and throwing lavish affairs was very appealing. But PR is not as glamorous as Samantha Jones from Sex In The City makes it out to be. It's a stressful job, and the hours are long. Particularly early in your career, a 50-hour week is the norm.
Good PR practitioners are not wallflowers. You are often the face of an organization and you have to be comfortable in public. You need to be a good communicator and storyteller, persuasive but also diplomatic. And you must have integrity: you need to voice your opinions, even if you go against the group.
There's obviously been a shift in PR from top-down communications toward public engagement. At the start of my career, we were focused on pitching media to tell the story. Now we don't just pick up the phone and pitch media. We're the storytellers now.