When I stepped into my presidency last June, I knew that we would certainly have a challenging year ahead of us. But looking back, I am so proud of our board of directors who despite the ongoing struggles we’ve all faced this year, both professionally and personally, have committed themselves to ensure that our members continue to see the benefits of belonging to the CPRS Vancouver family. A global pandemic certainly didn’t hold us back from achieving the goals set out in our annual strategic planning sessions.
Focus #1: Engage our student members
As the future of our profession, engaging students is important to CPRS Vancouver; however, they have not historically been a large percentage of our membership. Thanks to the leadership of our Students and Education Director, Alexandra Skinner, we brought on two new student board directors: Quinn Frankel and Ruth Baldiconza to help engage Vancouver PR and Communications students to deliver programming meaningful to them. They planned two student-focused events and continue to look for new ways to share the value of a CPRS Vancouver membership with new practitioners.
Focus #2: Launch a local awards program
Vancouver has plenty of talent and it’s time we recognize it! It has been many years since CPRS Vancouver had it’s own awards program and what better way to resurrect it than during a pandemic to highlight the value that we, as communications professionals, bring to our organizations.
Thanks to the project team led by Rashpal Rai, APR and Bev Pausche, APR, we successfully launched the PRestige Awards and look forward to announcing the inaugural prizes this year.
Focus #3: Highlight member benefits
For many of us, the value of connection has remained constant throughout this pandemic. And while we may not have been able to gather in person at networking events, we certainly wanted to give our members a way to continue to connect with colleagues. In September 2020, the board made a decision to offer all our virtual professional development events to our members free of charge. Even better—members from across the country were also encouraged to attend! This not only gave CPRS Vancouver members the opportunity to connect and learn from others locally, but broaden their networks across Canada.
Focus #4: Promote the value of the APR
In 2019, I earned my Accreditation in Public Relations (APR) from CPRS. It was one of the most valuable experiences of my career and as a board, we wanted to ensure other members understood the value the designation could bring and how they could access support through our Accreditation chairs at CPRS Vancouver. Thanks to a successful virtual information session led by co-directors Scott Jackson, APR, and Patricia McNeil, we received a record-number of interested members for this year’s program intake.
As our programming year ends, I’d like to extend thanks and appreciation to all of our members. Thank you for sticking by as we adapted and for continuing to be the community we all need and rely on. It has been a pleasure serving as your President and I look forward to the day (hopefully in the not-so-distant future) where we can celebrate all of our wins and accomplishments—in person!
Until then, keep on keeping on. I know the days are long, our brains are tired, and we’re all in need of a much needed holiday after a year of flexing our crisis communications muscles. But we’re almost at the finish line! Stay healthy, stay safe, until we can meet again.
-Tanya Colledge, APR, President CPRS Vancouver
About CPRS Vancouver
Founded in 1959, CPRS Vancouver is a networking and professional development organization serving public relations and communications practitioners in British Columbia, with a specific focus on Metro Vancouver. Our membership is diverse and ranges from senior practitioners and public relations executives to students and newcomers to the profession.
The Canadian Public Relations Society Vancouver chapter exists to support public relations professionals in the Lower Mainland by fostering professional growth and career goals. We do this by:
- Promoting high professional standards and encouraging our members to earn their Accreditation in Public Relations (APR).
- Adding value to the membership experience by offering accreditation support, mentorship programs, networking events, speaker series, and professional development for all levels.
- Striving to advance professional stature of public relations in Canada through the cooperation with other regional Member Societies and with like-minded organizations in other countries.
- Serving the public interest by upholding a code of professional standards and advocating for ethics in the industry.
- Encouraging student professional development by working closely with local PR programs at colleges and universities throughout Metro Vancouver to support entry to the profession.
- Providing opportunities to connect with other practitioners in this exciting, evolving field.
Tanya Colledge, APR
President, CPRS Vancouver Chapter
Current Gig: Communications Leader, Vancouver Coastal Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me... Clear communications is always the right approach. While this is important in everything we do, it is especially true during a crisis. This past year we’ve seen examples of when messaging was not clear—when it created more confusion and questions; and examples of when it has been done right. When communication is clear, fact-based, and uses plain language, it not only reassures your audiences that you’re being transparent, but helps your messages be understood. It helps create trust and positions your organization as a source of truth.
Vice President, CPRS Vancouver
Current Gig: Partner, Munro Thompson Communciations
Connect with me: Twitter
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me… even the best laid plans can be completely interrupted or ruined by crises you never imagined possible (or planned for). However, with a strong strategy and the right team you truly can get through anything the world throws at you. Moreover, you'll always find a way - or even better, a new way - to reach your goals. We are all more resilient than we think!
Hosea Cheung 張梓豪
Current Gig: Internal Co-Founder and Principal, Spotlight West Communications
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me… the importance of community. Without an ability to physically see others or to keep ourselves busy with work events, this past year has show how much we need to connect with people — and from a PR perspective — to highlight the human side of brands and stories.
Robin Cook Bondy, APR
Member at Large
Current Gig: Faculty, Public Relations and Applied Communications, Kwantlen Polytechnic University
Connect with me: LinkedIn
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me… that in times of crisis and chaos there is an opportunity for people to rise to the occasion in ways that they couldn’t in times of normal. Crisis can fuel illumination, innovation and creativity.
Current Gig: Manager of Indigenous and Coastal Communities Relations, Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping
Connect with me: LinkedIn
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me… Building relationships in a pandemic takes time, and commitment. Just as you would connect face to face it is important to remember how body language and eye contact is important when communicating virtually.
Director of Students and Education
Current Gig: Internal Sr. Manager, Government & Media Relations, WorkSafeBC
Connect with me: LinkedIn
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me... While the news media has declined and seen significant challenges in recent years, only exacerbated by COVID-19, relationships with news media and key journalists still matter. So many of us are trying to pivot our organizations while information, policies, and even our understanding of science, changes as the pandemic evolves. News media can serve as key partners to share accurate and timely information, and correct inaccuracies and misunderstandings. As Britt Ehrhardt, public health communications expert for Santa Clara County, says, “The mainstream media are essential channels of communication based on trust—and relationships with media must be fostered long before you really need them.”
Lesley Chang 張桂敵
Director of Membership
Current Gig: Account Manager, Beattie Tartan
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me... To be quick on my feet, and to trust my instincts. Be agile and don’t be afraid to be creative. Having clients in the tourism and hospitality space, being able to adapt your work into an advisory role on messaging and ensuring your client doesn’t come off tone deaf on social media, advertising and traditional media is a skill that’ll follow you throughout your career. Now is the time to think outside the box and come up with something no one has done or thought of before!
Rashpal Rai, APR ਰਸ਼ਪਾਲ ਰਾਏ
Director of Senior-Level Professional Development
Current Gig: Senior Communications Consultant
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me… To stop and take a moment to breathe, appreciate what we have and consider our own mental health. As communicators, we are often at the front, provide sound counsel to help other deal with crisis situations. In this pandemic, we have seen that the mental and emotional toll can be high on us as well. For us to help others, we need to make sure we take care of ourselves as well.
Director, Special Events
Current Gig: Stay at Home Mom (extended leave after 2nd child) & freelance contractor
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me...to slow down and enjoy the most important things, to not take relationships for granted, and to recognize beauty and blessings in the midst of the most challenging of times.
Co-Director, Professional Development
Current Gig: Public Relations Specialist, United Way of the Lower Mainland
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me... How to share stories that can be engaging on camera when camera people can't be near others. It’s also important to accept that this is a crazy time where old rules are breaking down and new ones are being created. So now's the time to build up and create something new.