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March 31, 2017 11:17 AM

Communications conference attracts sell-out crowd

Second-year students in Conestoga’s Bachelor of Public Relations program put their event planning and promotional skills into practice to co-host Break Through, Waterloo Region’s first communications and digital marketing conference.

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Students in Conestoga's Public Relations degree program organized the region's first communications and digital marketing conference on March 29.

Break Through was presented in partnership with the Waterloo chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) on March 29 at Kitchener’s historic Walper Hotel. The sell-out event attracted 80 communications professionals from the Waterloo Region, London and Hamilton for a full-day session that featured seven presenters including keynote speakers Cyrus Mavalwala, founder of Advantis Communication, and Dr. Terry Flynn, lead professor and founding director of McMaster University’s Master of Communications Management program.

The IABC - a network of communications 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.

“This is a day to learn and share,” said Barrett as she welcomed presenters and guests. “There's nothing better than meeting in person with people you can share your ideas with. Today is a breakthrough for our chapter and the KW region.”

PR students have been working on details of the conference since January and were responsible for securing speakers and sponsors, event promotion, budget management, registration and all logistics. During the conference they played a more visible role by introducing guest speakers.

“We are  proud to partner with IABC for the first annual Break Through conference,” said Gary Hallam, executive dean of Conestoga’s School of Business and Hospitality. “Our industry relationships are what make our career-focused applied learning so important.”

Hallam also thanked students and faculty for their participation in the conference and acknowledged the IABC board members who mentored students throughout the planning stages.

Other Break Through speakers included Caralee Ayora, assistant vice-president of communications at Manulife; Lanny Cardow, a principal at Navigator Limited; Caitlin MacGregor, CEO of Plum; Sam Trieu, community marketer for Sortable; and Ellyn Winters-Robinson, president of boutique PR agency Ignition Communications.

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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