Written by: Menrika Christian; Edited by: Jordan Alfred & Jocelyn Courneya
Margaret Pearcy is the president of the Canadian Public Relations Association’s Ottawa chapter. CPRS is an organization of public relations professionals, which works to maintain the high standards of the Canadian PR community.
uOPRA had the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with Margaret Pearcy. Margaret spoke with us on her personal career path, discussing her public relations knowledge and exploring what it takes to be a dominant member of the professional PR community
Education: Undergraduate studies, University of Manitoba, General Arts.
uOPRA: For someone seeking their first job in the PR/Communication field, what entry-level knowledge, skills and talents must they have?
Margaret: Knowledge of communications theory obtained through an undergrad degree and or a one-two-or-three year program at a technical college, an understanding of how social media works, and the ability to communicate effectively in writing and orally.
uOPRA: For someone seeking to progress in the PR/Communication field, what further education, knowledge, skills and talents do they need to acquire?
Margaret: Continuing education courses in specialized areas of communications (e.g. media relations or courses to improve writing skills), studies at the post-graduate level, and experience obtained through hands-on work experience.
uOPRA: In your mind, what is the future of the PR/Communication field? What are some of the strengths the field has going forward? What are some of the major issues or challenges PR may need to overcome in the future?
Margaret: I see a bright future for the public relations/communications field. Because of social media, an organization must be prepared to deal with its publics in an open, transparent, timely and fair manner. This should always have been the case, but with the advent of social media, it is now imperative if an organization is going to succeed. PR professionals can help their employers to act in this manner. In addition, being able to measure our contributions to the bottom line of an organization is increasing our value to our employers. Our major challenge continues to be convincing some members of the executive team that what we do is based on theory and research and extends beyond being able to craft a good news release or be friends with journalists.
uOPRA: What advice would you give to a student looking to become more involved in the Ottawa PR and communication community, like myself?
Margaret: Attend as many CPRS events as possible. We offer a number of events aimed specifically at students. Volunteer to help out at these and other CPRS events. Do communications work as a volunteer for non-profit organizations. This provides opportunities for networking and hands-on experience.
uOPRA: What can we look forward to this year from CPRS?
Margaret: We have a number of student events planned for November. We are calling them PR Road Trips and they will involve students and new entrants to the field visiting a number of the local offices of some of Canada’s largest public relations firms for explanations of what kinds of files they work on, what a typical work day is like and so on. We are also aiming to set up a discussion panel in late November or early December, topic to be confirmed, with a social component included. Check the CPRS Ottawa/Gatineau website for more information: www.cprsottawa.ca. We will also be offering a PR in the Pub night in February, which will be an opportunity for students to “speed date” public relations professionals who are working for a variety of organizations at various stages in their careers.
You don’t always need a public relations degree to be in public relations, but you have to be able to make the necessary efforts to catch up and learn from your environment. As a PR professional you continuously need to deepen your knowledge and study new tactics, even if it means going back to school to learn new communication skills.
To find out more about how you can get involved with CPRS Ottawa, visit their student page here, and find out more about the opportunities offered with the CPRS student membership.