uOPRA takes home two IABC Excel Awards

Written by: Tommy Nguyen
Edited by: Sharon Cheung

May 16, 2014 – The University of Ottawa Public Relations Association (uOPRA) attended the 14th annual IABC Excel Awards Ceremony last night at the National Arts Centre and two projects from the year were selected as winning pieces in the student division.

The Take uOPRA to Work Day four-part podcast series in collaboration with Ottawa-based podcast duo Young PR Pros (hosts Kristine D’Arbelles and Julia Kent) took home the IABC Excel Award of Merit and the Let’s Grow Together 2014 conference won the IABC Excel Award of Excellence. The two projects aimed to connect Ottawa’s academic and professional organizations in the communications and public relations community by helping network and educate the attendees at both events. Continue reading


uOPRA Talks: Melrose PR

Written by: Jocelyn Lubczuk

Edited by: Pina Capuano

uOPRA Talks: Melrose PR

As an avid Shark Tank viewer, I found myself quite excited as I sat down one Friday night with a big bag of popcorn to enjoy the show. I watched as two women walked confidently into the tank, and as their bio reel played I knew that I wanted to be like them professionally after my graduation. Kelley Coughlan (right) and Jenn Deese (left) own a luxury lifestyle PR firm based out of sunny Los Angeles. While they own and operate their very own business, their product ‘Pursecase’, a hybrid wallet and phone case, is what they brought with them into the Shark Tank. Here is a link of their clip of sharktank:

During their pitch they eloquently battled through Robert Herjavec and Mark Cuban’s tough comments. They were offered a royalty deal through the one and only Kevin O’Leary, and after all was said and done the ladies made a deal with Lori Greiner, who offered them 55 thousand dollars for 15% of their business. Walking out of the tank with their dream deal in hand, the happiness on their faces was evident. Not only did they gain exposure for both of their brands but they gained a strategic partner for Pursecase. What an accomplishment!

I knew uOPRA readers would be interested to hear about the success of these two business women, so I reached out. Below is Kelley Coughlan’s insights on PR, Pursecase, and success after graduation.

uOPRA: How did you get started in PR? What sparked your interest in luxury lifestyle brands?

Kelley: I got started in PR after taking a few classes in college at the Annenberg School of Communications at USC. I was originally a business major but ended up switching focuses after I found my calling in PR and communications. I interned at various PR firms throughout college and found that this lifestyle suited me. It’s what I live and breathe, I have always loved reading lifestyle magazines so being able to work with them by pitching products and stories is really fun.

uOPRA: Whats your favorite part of working in PR?

Kelley: The people we get to work with are the best part of working in PR. We get to work with such interesting and inspiring people on a daily basis. Each client of ours has such a drive and passion for their product or service and it’s contagious. It’s exciting to be around that positive energy.

uOPRA: I saw your pitch on Shark Tank and watched you make a deal with Lori Greiner. Can you describe what that experience was like for you and how it impacted Melrose PR?

Kelley: We have been flooded with emails and calls since our Shark Tank appearance and our deal with Lori. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and we are so grateful to have Lori on the pursecase team. The whole experience (of being on the show) has been life-changing for us; Melrose PR has gotten numerous inquiries from potential new clients after being on the show and we are excited to work with new businesses and individuals who share a passion for marketing. It’s been a win-win for Melrose PR and pursecase alike.

uOPRA: Your enthusiasm and love for your product was contagious through your pitch. How do you balance your passion for Pursecase and busy PR life?

Kelley: Thank you! It’s been a dream promoting our own product so being able to do PR for pursecase has been incredible. In PR, you are always looking for synergies and ways to market and promote with strategic partnerships and events. Having pursecase as a client has proven to be a huge benefit to our other clients as we have been able to collaborate on many different levels.

uOPRA: What is a typical day in the life of an entrepreneur & business owner?

Kelley: There is really no “typical” day in PR [especially] when you own a business; it varies day to day. I can say though that the first thing I do when I wake up is check my email… this usually gives me a pretty good idea of what the day has in store!

uOPRA: And finally, do you have any advice for recent PR graduates?

Kelley: Get an internship! A few internships if you can! You will learn if PR is for you, and what type of company suits you best. There are pros and cons to being at both a large or a boutique PR firm and there are so many different industries that you can specialize in so it’s important to get your feet wet as soon as you can. PR is [also] all about your relationships and connections, the earlier you create those relationships, the better off you’ll be!

Be sure to check Melrose PR on Twitter @MelrosePR

Our first speaker is…

Our first speaker is...

UOPRA is proud to present our first speaker Ryan Kennery, at our first annual Let’s Grow Together conference. Mr. Kennery was appointed the Press Secretary to Mayor Jim Watson’s office summer of 2012. Kennery has a M.A. in Communication and a B.A. in Communication from the University of Ottawa. He is well known for his strong involvement within the community, as he is also on the Board of Directors for the University of Ottawa Alumni Association. Thank you for everything you do Ryan, we are looking forward to hearing what you have to share as a communication professional.

A Day in the Life of a Designer Coordinator

strut on the catwalk

What an exciting experience!  Ottawa Fashion Week (OFW) was such a positive opportunity; I still can’t realize it at the moment. Besides the craziness of it, I met the most incredible and interesting people at this event. The fact that I felt withdrawal before the weekend even ended shows how much I enjoyed it!

I first started to work for OFW in July 2013 as an Enrolment Executive.  Essentially, my job was to recruit designers for the fall through phone calls, emails, tweets, Facebook messages, and the like.  I was only suppose to work until the end of August, but my supervisors liked my enthusiasm that they asked me if was interested in filling another position.  ‘’Sure!’’ I said.  Through meetings I had heard of one position in particular that seemed perfect for me.   I asked my boss if I could be a designer coordinator.   And just like that, I got the job!  Later on, people who’ve been working for OFW for several seasons told me it was unusual for someone to get that kind of job on their first season, especially with no experience.  I admit I didn’t have the experience, but my instinct sure did help a lot, because I had no idea what I was getting into.

A designer coordinator is the principal link between the designer and OFW.  I’m in charge of collecting all the information from the designer (music, number of looks, models, etc.); helping with model casting (keep track of ‘’Maybe’’ models and ‘’Yes’’ models) and fittings; and coordinating rehearsals for the models and make sure the line-up is perfectly followed (line-up: models and looks in a specific order). To top it off,  I had to this for multiple designers!  It’s pretty crazy when I think about it now, but I love what I do there and when you’re passionate about something you tend to overlook the bad things, then you focus on the rest.

My first show was OK.  We had a moment that I like to recall as the ‘’sinking ship’’ moment.  The middle of the line-up got wrong because the clothes changes were too quick, and I was left with naked models to go on the runway.   Fortunately, it didn’t happen.  The designer was backstage and made a new line-up with what was left to go and the attendees loved it.   My second show, however, was perfect.  I only kidnapped 7 interns to be in charge of a specific model for a specific change.  Of course there were plenty of better moments, but the crazy ones tend to be engraved in a good way in your memory.

Although I can say that my summer job taught me a lot, you definitely need developed skills for this kind of job.  I think the most important characteristics are leadership and good instincts. To be a leader, you need to be aware of what’s going on through communication (you can’t overlook your emails and texts for a few minutes).  But then again, if you know what’s happening, you shouldn’t have any problems knowing what to do. When I say to be aware, it’s because there are a lot of changes in that industry.  What we said last week is like last year.

Volunteering! To be honest I think the gain is so worth the hard work.  Unlike a paycheck, the experience from OFW will follow me all my life.  I love fashion and I feel so privileged to be able to do something like it.  There is so much that I’ve learned about the industry that I didn’t know.  It is also a great way to network.  I’ve met a lot of important people from inside and outside the industry.   Also, because of this job I’m working on so many new projects now and I almost forget that I’m a student.

Overall, it was amazing being part of OFW’s 10th season.  My first season was filled with good laughs and new friends.  I will surely return next season, better prepared and knowing what to expect! If you are interested to volunteer with us, just follow our Facebook page and Twitter and keep an eye out for volunteer applications in the next few weeks.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ottawafashionweek?ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/OFW_LIVE

By: Julien Boissonnault

julien boissonault

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Networking Event Tips 101

Written by: Bryant McNamara

Look, we all aren’t social butterflies, I understand that. I myself cannot for the life of me walk confidently into EVERY situation and start talking to every person who looks interesting. Let’s face it, some situations can be intimidating.

In the face of intimidation however, there are some simple steps that I’ve used to help me start breaking the ice and make networking worth my time.


  1. Networking events are intimidating – not the people.
  2. Don’t always ask generic questions, people will be impressed if you can STAND OUT and ask them an original question that really makes them take themselves off of autopilot. For example, ask about what the person does for fun, not what they do for work (this usually comes after the casual work conversation).
  3. Don’t rush – take your time and listen.
  4. Remember names of those you talk to. Nothing says “I’m paying attention” like being able to recount the person’s name without looking at their nametag, or remembering specific parts of the conversation.
  5. Obvious stuff: hand shakes, smiles, eye contact. No cell phone, or have it on silent!

For those who like acronyms, here is one for the basicb1fbe170b1ab2aa84d9fc7063f6ada72s you should remember, SMILE!

S – Silent cell phone
M – Make eye contact
I – Identify yourself
L – Learn their name
E – Enjoy the conversation

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