Conference Speakers

Commitment and Engagement

Michelle Sullivan Communications:
Quebec Journalists' Use of Social Media
Presented by Michelle Sullivan, President, Michelle Sullivan Communications

Michelle Sullivan, a Quebec-based social media pioneer and public relations consultant will present the results of a survey examining the use of social media and networks by Quebec journalists, and will discuss the implications of her study's conclusions for public relations professionals across Canada. The study centres on five important issues: how journalists use social networks, the impact of social media on their work, their perception of bloggers and online influencers, the work of PR professionals and ethics.

This study aims to move beyond the anecdotal to provide concrete insight into how social media and networks have shaped journalism. As an instructor at l'Université de Montréal and at McGill, Michelle Sullivan seeks to ensure the work being done by current and future generations of PR professionals rests solidly on best practice principles.

Sanofi Canada:
Relocation as a Catalyst for Change: How Leadership Empowered Employees and Achieved Organizational Change at Sanofi Canada
Presented by Joanne Kennedy, Communications Director and member of the Board of Directors, Sanofi Canada

The recent sale of part of its business prompted leading healthcare partner Sanofi Canada to relocate its headquarters. Moving from an antiquated building of closed "silo" offices, to a state of the art work open-plan environment, Sanofi Canada achieved meaningful change in its work culture in a very short space of time. Employee satisfaction went up, interaction patterns began to change, and an increase in informal communication contributed to greater transparency and efficiencies in the business. The presentation will offer insight and key lessons to organizations embarking in a similar journey to bring transformational change.

Torchia Communications & Rideau Recognition Solutions:
Choosing to care: Nurturing a new kind of caring organization
Presented by Jean-Claude Torchia, Owner, Founder, President, Torchia Communications
Peter W. Hart, CEO, Rideau Recognition Solutions
Virginie Bussieres, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Eco Entreprises Quebec
Moderated by Paul Goyette, Torchia Communications

Our culture and society - being what they are – offer organizations a great opportunity to provide a fertile environment where persons can feel valued, engaged and committed toward a higher purpose...toward a path of growth. When optimized, a work environment can transform employees into consummate brand and corporate ambassadors. Some organizations have mastered this while others have not. What are some of the very practical ways that an organization can motivate employees and rally them around the organization's core goals and mission statement? This workshop will broach this question from various angles: from an essential "recognition" perspective as well as from the perspective of coaching (of human talent), leadership and communication theory and practice. The panel will feature communications professionals as well as a leader from Rideau Inc., one of the world's most dynamic and accomplished employee recognition and engagement companies, based in MTL.

Luc Beauregard Centre of Excellence in Communication Research, Concordia University:
Coalition Building and Public Engagement: Lessons Learned from Two Cases in the Natural Resources Sector
Moderated by Jordan LeBel, PhD, Director, Luc Beauregard Centre of Excellence in Communication Research. Panel members: John Aylen, JoAnne Labrecque, PhD, Philippe Lefèvre

Successful projects must rest on common ground and shared desired outcomes. How do we move forward to meet shared goals in a context of entrenched polarities and what is the role of public relations in doing so? How do we get influencers and decision-makers to come together to design a project with the greatest advantages and mitigated liabilities for all stakeholders? This panel discussion will be based on two case studies recently commissioned by the Luc Beauregard Centre of Excellence in Communication Research and will focus on lessons learned from 1) the recently failed attempt to reopen the Jeffrey asbestos mine in Quebec, until recently the largest asbestos mine in the world and 2) the May 2014 Quebec government decision to move ahead with shale gas exploration.

Sheridan College:
The Organizational "Double-Double": How PR and HR can work together to create the sweet spot that boosts engagement and creates impact
Presented by Christine Szustaczek, Director, Corporate Communications & External Relations, Sheridan College & Amanda Pike, Director of Organizational and People Development at Sheridan College

At a time when employee engagement scores are plummeting and when individuals are increasingly choosing to support brands that reflect their values, how can an organization leverage its corporate character to inspire its people to contribute to its long term success? In this session, we’ll examine how PR and HR can form the institutional tag team needed to unearth and unleash institutional values, enhance and reinforce levels of engagement through rewards and recognition, and support people’s efforts to share an institution’s stories with their personal networks.

Interbrand Canada:
Creating a movement: How do you break through the clutter?
Presented by Carolyn Ray, Managing Director, Interbrand Canada

Today, real change happens in movements. Movements are ignited by a purpose, an idea that inspires and unites people. Today’s movements demand new tools, types of interactions and practices. This starts with telling a compelling story, and then changing the way you engage with your audiences.    

Brands actually can—and should—be at the forefront of movements, not only by educating and leading customers, but also by engaging their own employees.  

This session will educate communicators on the role of brand as a driver of change within their organization and provide a working framework to elevate communications skills to a strategic level.

Yellow Pages Canada:
Successfully Turning the Titanic on a Dime: PR at Yellow Pages
Presented by Fiona Story, Director, Public Relations and Corporate Communications, Yellow Pages Canada

Yellow Pages, a Canadian legacy brand, associated for years with a single product is in the midst of a comprehensive corporate transformation into a digital company. Brand evolution, PR and perception is a large part of that undertaking. This presentation would explore how we used CSR and strategic communications to create consensus and align the goals of our various departments with PR and vice versa. Steps we used to rekindle relevancy around the Yellow Pages brand, rebuild relationships with our customer base, reinvigorate our employees, alter our corporate culture and corporate communications and effectively change perceptions of the company among our various stakeholder audiences.

City of Vaughan:
Changing the Landscape – Communicating Internally at The City of Vaughan
Presented by Gary Williams, Director, Corporate Communications, City of Vaughan

This presentation will chronicle the journey of internal communications at the City of Vaughan, beginning with the occasional staff memo from the City Manager to a full-scale plan with a variety of tactics, including a social intranet platform, an internal communications committee, and approaches to reach out to employees who do not have access to corporate computers or smartphones. This presentation will provide context on how the City's Internal Communications Strategy was created as well as how it was launched, ongoing measurement and next steps.

Delaney and Associates:
Public engagement and PR 2.0 – Getting to Yes through Dialogue
Presented by Jessica Delaney, principal, Delaney and Associates

In a world where everything and everyone one is engaging, what is authentic public engagement? This presentation will provide the PR professional, community relations specialist and strategic communicator with a solid understanding of public engagement, best practices, and key elements to a meaningful engagement plan. The presentation will help attendees develop public engagement plans for their own organization or client. Public engagement is part art, part science, but there is definitely a right and wrong way to do it. Learn how to build a meaningful public engagement plan that gets results.

Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA):
Communications to regain engagement and commitment: an Association Case Study
Presented by Paul Howard, Director of Communications, ACPA
& Maria Hypponen, Manager of Communications, ACPA

You have important business to conduct with your target audience, but they are largely disengaged or worse, mistrustful. How can you get their attention, re-engage them and ultimately, win them over to your cause? This was the challenge faced by the Air Canada Pilots Association (ACPA), when more than three-quarters of its members trusted neither their Association nor their airline's management. But ACPA needed those members to ratify a new collective agreement supporting a ten-year plan for growth that could bring substantial benefits. Attend this session to learn how the Association used two-way communications informed by objective external research to engage its members and gain their commitment, achieving more than 90 per cent participation and 80 per cent approval in a ratification vote. Presenters will share how this was accomplished and what strategies and tactics might be applied to your own challenges.

Manitoba Housing, The Province of Manitoba:
Building Relationships and Bolstering Goodwill During Stressful Times:
How Seizing Community Engagement Can Advance Your Story and Your Brand

Presented by L. Nadine De Lisle, Director, Community Relations, Manitoba Housing, The Province of Manitoba

If a home renovation project can send a loving couple to the brink of a meltdown, image the effect of large-scale, long-term capital projects on a community. Add a "not in my backyard" attitude on one side and “feet-to-the fire” advocacy on the other.  In the middle, a team eager to “just get the work done.”  The good news? There's tremendous opportunity to build relationships and bolster goodwill.  The tools?  Rigorous and continuous communication and community engagement.

An overview and case studies will open discussion about the risks and rewards of community engagement in high-risk times.  Focusing on reputation management and stakeholder relations, participants will work within a community engagement framework to customize their own public relations/community engagement toolkits. Whatever the communications issue:  arts marketing to capital projects, community engagement can help build awareness, understanding and positive impact.  And, that's always good business.

Huffington Post Canada:
How To Get Attention (And Tell Great Stories) In A Busy Media Landscape
Presented by Rebecca Zamon, Living Editor, Huffington Post Canada

As more and more people turn to the Internet as their primary news source, it's easy for great stories to get lost in the midst of a lot of noise. So how do you make sure yours stands out? Engaging headlines and unique approaches to topics help you differentiate yourself from the competition, and also ensures you serve your readers, keeping them coming back for more. This presentation looks at content from an editorial perspective, showing just how headlines and storytelling has changed online, and how you can use that to your advantage.

Public Relations in 2025

Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre (CCAC):
The Future of Public Relations - What Communicators Need to Know
Presented by Julia Oosterman, Director, Communications, Toronto Central CCAC &
Samantha Kemp-Jackson, Manager, Communications, Toronto Central CCAC

As the world becomes smaller because of technology and the 24-hour news cycle, there is increasing pressure for Communicators to keep ahead of the digital curve. In the future Public Relations landscape, PR practitioners must not only convey their clients' messaging through various channels, but will need to understand current methodologies that will most effectively support their clients' narratives.

Communications 3.0 entails a 360-degree knowledge of the latest technologies and strategies that will drive forward messaging. The change in how communicators work and the normalization of digital media today underscores the rapid change in how communications is delivered. Future communicators must not only understand the current landscape, but must have a line-of-sight to what will be "the next big thing."

This session led by Julia Oosterman, Director, and Samantha Kemp-Jackson, Manager at Toronto Central Community Care Access Centre, will provide details about future trends and tools that communicators will need to embrace. Focusing on the Healthcare/Medical fields and how they compare to corporate or agency, the information discussed will be appropriate and executable across all vertical markets.

Incite Marketing:
One thing only marketers know that can elevate PR planning and messaging
Presented by Richard Liebrecht, Strategic Planner, Incite

In PR, we hate talking about competition – that's marketing speak. But today's PR pros are in competition, like it or not. There are fewer media resources, audiences are inundated and the C-suite is looking for ROI. It's not enough to have the right message – you need to position your organization and message to beat the competition for your audiences' attention. We will use a marketing positioning process on case studies to identify competitors, influencers and differentiated value in non-commercial communication contexts.

New Technologies and Media Evolution

Navigator Ltd.:
Break in Case of Emergency: How to Respond to a Crisis in a Digital World
Presented by Mike Van Soelen, Managing Principal, Navigator Ltd.

Being prepared for your company's worst day has never been more important due to the speed with which today's hyper-connected consumer can pass judgement on a brand. This workshop will educate communications professionals on how to help organizations plan and prepare for a potential crisis - whether it’s a data breach or a plant fire, or worse. The audience will consider how to navigate the realities of managing a crisis in the face of new digital technologies and an evolving media landscape. During a crisis, brands are first (re)defined on social media, not in traditional op-ed pages, which is why companies need be prepared to move quickly to engage effectively with today's social media audiences.

Citoyen Optimum:
Influencers, brand ambassadors & early adopters: individual impact on brand reputation
Presented by Katia Robillard, Vice President Public Relations and Marketing Communication, Citoyen Optimum

Influencers, brand ambassadors, early adopters – while they come in many shapes and forms, influential individuals have always had a tremendous impact on a brand's reputation.

Today more than ever, thousands of people follow each and every one of their moves. With the explosion of social media, their network has grown exponentially. They have access to their very own media platforms, and they can update them in real-time. With a single tweet or blog post, they can make or break a campaign.

During this workshop, Katia Robillard will talk about the consequences of this revolution on your communication strategy. She will be joined by a blogger who will explain their side of the story. Together, they will discuss best practices when reaching out to online influencers in order to develop mutually beneficial relationships, illustrated by concrete examples from personal experience.

Harnessing the power (and credibility) of data in your PR strategy
Presented by Sébastien Pierre, Fondateur, FFunction

Data is taking an increasingly important place in our society, and in the ways we communicate professionally and personally. From corporations to governments & non-profits, we're seeing data used in increasingly clever ways to explain complex phenomenon or trends, raise awareness of a variety of issues, and strengthen transparency and credibility. Major newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post (not to mention the online media world) are exploring these new types of narratives, where data and interaction act as core elements in engaging an audience.

In this visually rich presentation, you will discover how data can be integrated in your communication strategies and learn about the do’s and don'ts of working with data. A crucial presentation for those planning to engage in the new era of PR.


Communicating with Conscience: Going Beyond Borders

Sustainable Development/CSR communication on corporate web sites:
How do you compare with Canadian leaders?

Presented by Solange Tremblay, APR, President, Groupe DURABILITÉ | COMMUNICATION &
Jacques Baronet, professor, Université de Sherbrooke

PR practitioners have come a long way in Sustainable Development and CSR communication practices since the start of the new millennium. But, in this “everyone's a journalist” era, how good are your communication strategies on these important issues? In this presentation, Solange Tremblay and Jacques Baronet will provide key insights into the best communication behaviors, drawing on the results of a comprehensive analysis of the web-based communication activities of 100 large Canadian organisations over the eight-year period between 2006 and 2013. Participants will learn how to compare and adjust their communication strategies with those of the leaders, as well as how to avoid pitfalls and outdated methods. Participants will leave with an understanding of the emerging SD/CSR approach to more responsible communication and with a roadmap to SD/CSR best practices in web-based communication.

Université Laval:
PR Drifts
Presented by Bernard Dagenais, PhD, ARP, FSCRP, Professor, Université Laval

Public relations operate at the cognitive, knowledge, sensorial, and representative levels. Accepting confusion in such domains is detrimental to society as a whole. Greenwashing, greenbashing, pinkwashing, astroturfing, fake news, front groups, propaganda, disinformation, social responsibility hijacking, even blatant lies, are only but a few of the approaches increasingly used by PR practitioners neglecting their mission of fostering public interest through their communication activities.

PR professionals using such practices are behaving like mercenaries or advocates for whom no holds are barred to make their client’s point of view prevail. While all sorts of organizations condemn such inappropriate conduct, professional associations representing the PR industry remain rather quiet on the issue. They will simply post their Code of Ethics as a screen for various misleading practices. 

Argyle Communications and Valin Strategic Communications:
Social purpose, business value: The global trends that are transforming PR
Presented by Daniel Tisch APR, FCPRS, President & CEO, Argyle Communications &
Jean Valin APR, FCPRS LM, Valin Strategic Communications

While most leaders agree that public relations and communication are essential to organizational success, there remain many different views about what PR is, and the value it delivers. What if leaders could agree that the true value of PR is to help achieve social harmony while benefiting the bottom line?
In this bilingual session, two former chairs of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management argue that like every profession, public relations needs to articulate both a social purpose and a business value. The good news is that communicative organizations around the world are doing just that, creating living examples of two-way, symmetrical communication. Join us to discuss how understanding these practices and trends can help every professional articulate a stronger case for public relations – while helping PR become the management discipline of the twenty-first century.

Research Workshops

Mount Saint Vincent University:
A visual roadmap to success: An analysis of the two-way communication in the social media space
Presented by Amy Thurlow PhD, APR, Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University
& Alla Kushniryk, PhD, Professor, Mount Saint Vincent University

This presentation will provide an overview of a new and innovative method of measuring the direction and flow of communication within social media. Visual mapping of two way communication in social media will allow public relations practitioners to better integrate and measure the impact of two-way communication. The presentation will feature a visual toolkit that will allow public relations professionals to see a flow of communication, indicated in the shape of the visual representation, providing insights into the nature of the two-way relationship represented in social media usage.

Leger Marketing & McMaster University:
Social Media Reality Check 3.0
Presented by David Scholz, Chief Marketing Officer, Leger
& Alex Sevigny PhD, APR, Director, MCM Program, McMaster University

This talk will draw on the third wave of research data in this series and will discuss how social media has evolved among Canadians since 2009 in terms of usage, depth and trust from the voice of the users. It is the only dataset of its kind tracking Canadians’ attitudes, beliefs and values toward social media and its influence on decision to purchase, television enjoyment and participation in live sport or cultural events. This talk will present a snapshot of current Canadian social media and a projection to future trends.

NATIONAL Public Relations & Sonic Boom:
The Fairness Imperative: How Fairness Will Make or Break Corporate Reputation
Presented John Crean, National managing partner, NATIONAL Public Relations
& Michael Mahoney, Senior Digital Strategist, NATIONAL Public Relations

In collaboration with reddit, NATIONAL Public Relations and its digital division, Sonic Boom, applied their unique digital ethnography methodology, Belief Based Consumption, to study a large and engaged group of Canadians to better understand the values that drive purchase and advocacy decisions. Using a team of sociologists (PhDs), we analyzed over 20,000 conversations on to identify emerging cultural trends and values of Canadians. was chosen because it is the most prolific online community in Canada, with over 7.4 million unique monthly Canadian visitors. It is frequented by early adopters, techies and culture creators, and many of today’s trends are foreshadowed on the site.

In this session, the speakers will share the results of our research across a range of business sectors, provide a clear understanding of the concept of fairness and how it applies to organizations, and translate the fairness concept into practical and actionable measures for organizations.

Society Workshops

Media Relations Rating Points (MRP):
Beyond Earned Media – The New Age of PR Measurement
Presented by Jennifer Cruxton, Manager, Business Development, MRP at Fifth Story. She will be joined by PR agency professionals and MRP users.

With the explosion of digital and social and the focus on customer experience, the silos that once existed between the communications disciplines have blurred, even disappeared. Our panel of PR professionals and measurement experts will discuss how this changed the way they demonstrate the success of their PR campaigns and the necessity to measure the full picture, using MRP – the industry standard for earned media measurement created by the CPRS – and including paid, owned and shared metrics.

National Council on Education
Educator Roundtable
Panel discussion facilitated by Amy Thurlow PhD, APR, Chair, Department of Communication Studies, Mount Saint Vincent University

Panellists include Elizabeth J. Hirst MA, APR, FCPRS, LM and Colin Babiuk MA, APR, FCPRS.

In its fifth year, this insightful and lively discussion brings together PR Educators from across the country to share experiences and insights as they tackle the challenge of teaching in an ever-changing, fast-growing profession. Join the discussion and take on:

  • The debate about common standards among disparate programs delivered in diverse ways, over varying timelines by part-time and full-time faculty in private and public institutions.
  • The lightning speed of change that renders PR research obsolete by the time it is published…keeping ahead of the game as an educator and a researcher.
  • Classroom concepts versus real-world realities-what roles do ethics and professionalism play in early career stages when PR is labeled as "just a tool of marketing" by colleagues and managers.

National Council on Accreditation
APR Engagement – Where will you have the most impact?
Carleen Carroll APR, FCPRS

Carleen Carroll APR, FCPRS will have a conversation with fellow APRs about the many opportunities within CPRS to engage in activities that enrich the practice of public relations as well as contribute to the professional development of peers. With such a range of choices, where and how should an APR start to volunteer and how does each one know what is best suited to individual talents and abilities? This is your chance to find out.

National Council on Accreditation
Agréé en Relations Publiques, ARP – Séance d'information
Guy Versailles ARP, FSCRP

Pour ceux qui veulent savoir plus sur le processus d'agrément: le président du comité d'agrément de la SQPRP, M. Guy Versailles ARP, FSCRP donnera de l'information sur le programme et répondra tous vos questions.

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