SPOTLIGHT: Canadian Public Relations Society

In the Public Relations industry, networking is crucial for a successful career. Founded in 1948, Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) is an organization that strengthens networks for those in PR. The society is composed of men and women who practice Public Relations in Canada and abroad. CPRS has fourteen societies based in Canada’s major cities including Ottawa. CPRS strives to connect public relations professionals together to foster their interests as well as regulate the practice for the benefit and protection of the public interest. The society, governed by an elected board of twelve individuals who are selected annually from the previous board, is the perfect way to meet others in the PR field both in Ottawa and on a national or global scale.

In addition to aiding PR professionals, CPRS can be very beneficial for students looking to enter the field. Each society across Canada holds professional development events, seminars and networking opportunities that are open to students and professionals alike. These events not only educate on what is happening in CPRS but also in the profession as a whole. With numerous events being held, students are given the opportunity to get their foot in the door and gain experience while meeting new people.

One former Public Relations student who has benefited from the CPRS is Lea Werthman. Lea joined CPRS as a student member while studying Public Relations at Algonquin College back in 1985. Today, she is President-Elect of the board – meaning next year she will be President. She decided to join the board of members because she liked the idea of doing “PR for PR”, and became very involved in planning the national conference which was held here in Ottawa this past June.

When asked to comment on her favourite event, Lea raved about her experiences at the national conference (though she admits she may be a little biased based on her involvement this year). She’s been to five of the conferences now and relates them to a “summer camp” experience. Specific to the Ottawa society, her favourite event is “PR in the Pub” which happens every fall. It is essentially like speed dating where PR professionals and communications students have the chance to mingle and discuss what they do and why they love PR. Lea says the event makes her “infected with the energy and enthusiasm of a bunch of young PR pros who share my passion. It’s a great event!” Other events this year included seminars on social media in Government communications, strategic internal communications and a PR boot camp to name a few.

Though there is an annual fee to join the society, there is a discounted price for full time and part time students enrolled in a Public Relations program. Becoming a member gives you access to all of the exclusive events, awards, and volunteer opportunities. The society is also looking into creating a new mentoring program where students and professionals will be able to learn from each other. While teaching at Algonquin College over the years Lea saw students make connections through CPRS – which translated into co-op placements and job offers. She has also offered to act as a reference to any of the student volunteers who helped with the national conference this year. CPRS is an excellent way to gain experience, meet new people, and build your resume.

If you aren’t ready to make the financial commitment to join CPRS, you can still go out to one of their events and get to know the members. When asked about going to networking events Lea responded “I have a little secret for you: we love to talk about ourselves. So never be intimidated about striking up a conversation with one of us at the next event you attend – just ask us what we love about PR, and our relationship will bloom from there”. To find out more on CPRS or if you’re interested in becoming a member, you can email info@cprsotttawa.com or visit http://www.cprs.ca.

– Amber Gillan

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