Director, Media & Digital Communications, Insurance Bureau of Canada
Length of PR career (so far): I’ve been involved in media and media relations for more than 30 years. I started my career using a typewriter and tape recorder and today continue to be amazed at the rapid pace of change. Today news is a 24 hour a day business and to succeed in this business you need to be informed and well read. You can learn so much from what has come before us and sometimes old ideas can breathe a different perspective in to new campaigns.
Your most memorable campaign: Working at Insurance Bureau of Canada, it is the first job where my focus is on the average consumer – people like me, my friends and family. We deal with issues about home and auto insurance and how these policies really protect your most valuable assets. I’ve also used my position to advocate for important changes to distracted driving rules and penalties across Canada and for great motorcycle safety.
Most poignant professional moment: All of the work behind the scenes at Toronto Stock Exchange during 9/11. (There’s a book there sometime in the future.) Also reopening the stock market after 9/11. We lost many financial services people in the attack and it was horribly sad, but a sign of strength to carry on.
Last time you didn’t do any work all weekend: I work nights, weekends, holidays and even when I’m away on vacation. It’s not healthy but it’s ingrained in my personality. During a recent trip to Cuba I did a “digital detox” – completely shutting down all communication. First two days nearly drove me crazy. After that, I adjusted – a bit.
Most misunderstood thing about PR: Often we are brought in to “fix things.” PR needs to be part of the planning process and aligned with strategic priorities and government relations initiatives. We have seen it all and can help how the information is presented to the various audiences.
What got you interested in a PR career? I was a radio reporter and covered the 1987 stock market crash. The Toronto Stock Exchange liked my work and passion and hired me to report on the markets and build their media relations capabilities. I thought it would be a short assignment – it ended up lasting 20 years.
Most interesting thing about your job: Working with the most incredible and talented people ever.
Number of meetings you were in last week: Too many to count.
Best advice to a PR student: Never say no. Jump in and help. The only way to learn is to experience, ask questions and, yes, sometimes make mistakes.
What do you read daily? Most of the major newspapers, special feeds I’ve set up on Twitter and some news on the radio.
Brand that does the best PR: Versatility
Brand most in need of better PR: Versatility (Can I repeat this??)
Favorite non-work hobby: My Jeep (with the top down) and listening to Howard Stern on Sirius Radio. I’m a bit of a closet disciple and watching the Leafs and Jays on TV.
Last book you read: Bleeding Blue by Wendel Clark.
Cocktail of choice: Craft Beer
Favorite movie this year: La La Land – and I didn’t expect to like it.
Your first “real” job: Working as a sports reporter at CKO Radio in Toronto.
Childhood “dream job”: Playing for the Leafs
Three people you’d love to invite to dinner: Good question. Alive or dead? I’d like one more Chinese food meal with my late parents. That would be the best gift ever.
Your next big adventure: Heading to Mexico for rest and fun.
Your ideal Saturday: Are the Toronto Maple Leafs playing??