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February 13, 2017 7:55 AM

Bachelor of PR students plan communications conference

Second-year students in Conestoga’s Bachelor of Public Relations program are putting their event planning and promotional skills into practice as they plan Waterloo Region’s first-ever communications and digital marketing conference.

The Break Through Communications conference, scheduled for March 29, is presented in partnership with the Waterloo chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). The day-long event will take place at Kitchener’s iconic and recently restored Walper Hotel.

Working with IABC, students are responsible for securing speakers and sponsors, event promotion, budget management, registration and all logistics.

“The applied learning experience students are gaining through this exercise is incredible,” said Public Relations faculty member Patricia Uribe. “They have three months to plan a world-class conference and they hit the ground running. They’ve secured speakers and sponsors and are using their skills to develop social media content and manage event registration.”

Uribe also explained the conference has provided students with unique mentorship and networking opportunities. Students have been divided into three planning committees and each committee is mentored by an IABC board member. Outreach activities during the planning stages, and volunteer roles during the conference, will allow students to connect with industry professionals.

The IABC - a network of communication professionals committed to improving organizational effectiveness through strategic communication - has chapters around the globe. Conestoga faculty member Paula Barrett was appointed president of the Waterloo chapter last August.

"The name of the conference says it all," commented Barrett, who played the role of matchmaker between the two organizations. "This is a breakthrough event for our region and our association and also a learning breakthrough for our students, who will head out on their first co-op placements this spring and can add this experience to their toolkits."

She added that several graduates of Conestoga’s Bachelor of PR and PR diploma programs will attend. "They miss school and they're anxious to see their alma mater take learning off campus and into the community."

The conference will provide attendees with facilitated breakout brainstorming sessions and a moderated career panel featuring communicators from multiple sectors.  

Speakers for the event include: 

  • Cyrus Mavalwala, a globally accredited communication strategist and founding partner of Toronto-based digital communications agency Advantis Communications
  • Sam Trieu, community marketer for Sortable, one of Canada’s fastest growing companies, recently ranked 8th on the Deloitte Fast 50
  • Caralee Ayora, assistant vice-president of communications at Manulife, a leading Canadian insurance company and financial services provider
  • Ellyn Winters-Robinson, president of boutique PR agency Ignition Communications and in-house PR mentor at Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre, a world renowned incubator for tech start-ups
  • Caitlin MacGregor, CEO of Plum, a rapidly growing startup that uses cloud software, modern behavioural science and predictive analytics to pinpoint the best applicants for jobs
  • Lanny Cardow, a principal at Navigator Limited, Canada’s leading high-stakes public strategy and communications firm  
  • Dr. Terry Flynn, lead professor and founding director of McMaster University’s Master of Communications Management program and one of Canada’s leading public relations and communications management scholars

For more information about Break Through, visit the registration page

Conestoga's Bachelor of Public Relations degree program was the first to be approved in Ontario and the fourth of its kind in Canada. Graduates are prepared with critical thinking skills and the practical experience required to manage reputations, responses and relationships on behalf of their organization. 

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