Viewing posts in "Uncategorized"

Canada’s PR industry releases first comprehensive diversity & inclusion survey

The Canadian public relations profession is diverse, but both racial and gender diversity decline sharply at the top — the executive level — according to a comprehensive Leger survey of Canadian communications professionals.

View full press release

An Anti-racism, Diversity & Inclusion Commitment from Canada’s Public Relations Firms

We, the undersigned, as leaders of major Canadian public relations firms, join our voices in opposition to racism and discrimination, both in our country and abroad. We stand with our employees, with the activists and advocates, and the growing mainstream in our society that seeks change.

We understand that we must listen more, learn more, and do more to eradicate racism, inequity and discrimination of all kinds – both inside our profession and in our work with clients, stakeholders and society.

Each firm therefore commits to the following six strategic actions, starting immediately:

  1. Leadership: We understand that this anti-racism commitment must start at the top, and that our current leadership ranks are not diverse enough. That is why we commit ourselves and our firms to understanding and removing barriers to the recruitment, retention, advancement and experience of professionals from underrepresented backgrounds.
  2. Recruitment: We will audit and enhance our recruitment processes to achieve an ongoing, measurable improvement in the representation of Black, Indigenous and people of colour at all levels. We will bring an equity lens to the hiring process, including a commitment to working with educational institutions to improve the diversity of the available talent pool.
  3. Training & development: We will ensure our training programs for managers and employees explicitly include instruction on how to recognize and eliminate unconscious bias. This also means creating safe spaces for employees from underrepresented backgrounds to share their experiences, and ensuring there is mentoring, support and opportunities for them to showcase their skills, and to rise to senior leadership roles.
  4. Client work, content & partnerships: We will be proactive in advocating that clients invest in greater engagement and communication with people and communities who are under- represented in institutions and organizations with power in Canadian society. This also means seeking to ensure diverse, inclusive representation in the content we create, and in our partnerships with content creators and suppliers.
  5. Social investment & philanthropy: We commit to making equity and anti-racism core elements of our respective corporate social investments and philanthropy, with each firm selecting initiatives and causes appropriate to its business, values and communities.
  6. Accountability: We commit to setting clear benchmarks and targets, measuring our performance, and reporting as an industry association on key metrics such as representation and pay equity at all levels.

We know that the fight against racism, discrimination and inequity is a long-term effort that requires sustained and strategic action, rigorous measurement and courageous communication. It also means advocating and embracing change. While we compete in the marketplace, we collaborate in making these commitments to our employees, our profession and our society.

Apex PR – Linda Andross & Kenneth Evans, Managing Partners
Argyle – Daniel Tisch, President & CEO
Casacom – Tricia Doyle, Managing Director
Citizen Relations – Nick Cowling, President
DDB Canada – Kevin Brady, President & CEO
Edelman Canada – Lisa Kimmel, CEO
Energi PR – Carol Levine, CEO & Co-Founder
FleishmanHillard HighRoad – Angela Carmichael, President
GCI Canada – Kristy Derkson, General Manager & Senior Vice President
Golin Canada – Lindsay Peterson-Chisholm, Managing Director
Hill + Knowlton Strategies Canada – Sheila Wisniewski, President & CEO
Kaiser & Partners – Janine Allen, President & Partner
Ketchum – Erin Manning, Managing Director
Media Profile – Alison King, President
Paradigm – Mike Abbass & Tracey Bochner, Partners
Praxis – Maureen Juniper, Partner/Co-Founder
Strategic Objectives – Judy Lewis & Deborah Weinstein, Co-founders & Partners
Veritas Communications – Krista Webster, President & CEO
Weber Shandwick Canada – Greg Power, President & CEO

All Canadian public relations firms that meet the CCPRF membership criteria are invited to join us in making this commitment.

#AwarenessDays are the new black

Written by:Allison Goodman, Account Coordinator with energi PR’s Healthcare Practice in Toronto

World Health Day, Daffodil Month, National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness Week, Parkinson’s Awareness Month, International Hemophilia Day, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome Awareness Month – these are just some of the awareness milestones that occur this April.

Although some may consider these to be merely special awareness days, we in the public relations business view them as key leveraging opportunities.

This day, week or month is the chance for organizations, associations and foundations alike to have their moment to shine and communicate their message and story to a captive audience. This is their opportunity to spread awareness for the disease area or condition that affects their stakeholders every day.

Some commemorate the given milestone with a major announcement, some with a news release and now, the more and more common tactic is through social media sharing. Perhaps an organization will develop a video or infographic that can be shared across all social media channels using a designated hashtag.

Go ahead and search one of the above awareness milestones that have recently passed or are ongoing on Twitter and you are sure to come across numerous mentions and shout-outs.

Let’s take, for example, this month’s Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil Month campaign. Type #DaffodilMonth in the Twitter search tool and you are brought to countless tweets, videos, links and articles all with a common theme – a message of awareness, strength and courage. This hashtag brings together conversations, stories and encouragement supporting the Society, its efforts and those touched by cancer – either directly or indirectly.

In addition to healthcare-specific awareness milestones, health-related organizations can also leverage non-traditional milestones to share a message and engage a community. As PR practitioners, it is our chance to get creative and correlate our clients with these milestones, becoming engaged in a conversation that extends the reach of their message beyond its typical audience.

Other awareness days this month that can be connected to a health client’s message?

World Book Day – Is there a compelling book related to your client’s disease area? Well, why not post a link to the book with the hashtag #WorldBookDay?

International Jazz Day – Did you know that Natalie Cole, jazz vocalist and daughter of the great Nat King Cole, received a life-saving kidney transplant? This is an opportunity to spread awareness and encourage the importance of organ and tissue donation.

These milestones, and others, are endless… and so are the possibilities.

Allison Goodman

Allison Goodman


When Crisis Occurs… Who Ya Gonna Call?

Written by:Jacqueline Zonneville, Account Director with energi PR’s Healthcare Practice in Toronto

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a training session focused on Communications for Risk, Issues and Crisis Management. The day was spent examining the principles/differentiating factors of risks, issues and crisis, and strategic approaches to effectively manage each. Following, my fellow participants and I had the opportunity to put theory into practice and apply our learnings to a uniquely designed mock scenario. A very rewarding experience!

As a PR practitioner focusing on health and wellness, I find myself more and more fascinated by the intricacies of crisis communications, and best practices to weather the storm so to speak. And here’s why (most of which won’t be new to my fellow practitioners, but hopefully of interest nonetheless):

  • Crisis never sleeps; it can occur at any time: Take the recent Malaysian Airlines crisis, for example. A round-the-clock communications effort was employed to keep the public up-to-date with accurate information, and to correct the multitude of inaccurate reports making their way onto various media and internet channels, etc. Not to mention, with the rise of social media, a whole new set of crises are making their way to the public eye!
  • Crisis requires a forward-thinking approach: When crisis occurs, there’s no going back. All companies can do is find an effective way forward, and to regularly communicate the steps being taken to course correct. Remember, Mohammed went right to the mountain. He didn’t run and hide or back away from it.
  • Crisis has punch: Depending on how an organization conducts itself during a crisis, it can allow for an opportunity to gain public support by demonstrating overall worth/goodwill throughout the crisis. I think we can all agree that Tylenol recovered well from its 1980’s laced-capsules crisis.

With healthcare communications comes a mixed bag of crises that companies could potentially face – from potential product recalls to black-box label warnings to loss of life, access to medications (or lack thereof) and everything in between.

Some Qs to ask:

  • Is the situation at hand truly a crisis, or are you being faced with an independent issue? Is there a way to contain the issue before it becomes a crisis? Keep in mind, the key differentiator between an issue and a crisis is that an issue relates to an incident whereas as crisis is a more ongoing situation.
  • When in crisis, what are the key messages that are important to convey? Is everyone on your response team in line with this message track and are they effectively communicating with the broader organization?
  • What solutions to address the crisis can/should be highlighted?
  • What are the benchmarks for success for your organization when it comes to effectively managing a crisis?
  • What are the short- and long-term strategies needed?

When all else fails, a friendly piece of advice I came across from Hallmark plaque: “Just take it one gigantic, earth-shattering crisis at a time.”


Canadian Public Relations Industry Hosts Fourth Annual CCPRF PR Boot Camp on April 4

PR guru Paul Holmes and industry thought leaders headline annual PR Professional Development Session for PR Firm Practitioners

TORONTO, March 25, 2014 – On April 4, the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms (CCPRF) will host its fourth annual “PR Boot Camp”, which brings together professional practitioners from some of Canada’s most prestigious PR firms for an intensive day of learning and development. This one-day workshop will provide attendees with strategies and insights to advance their careers in today’s dynamic communications environment, and provide networking opportunities for emerging stars to dialogue with senior practitioners from Canada’s top PR firms.

Kicking off the day is guest speaker Paul Holmes, editor of The Holmes Report and chief executive of The Holmes Group.  Paul has been writing about public relations for more than 25 years.  Early in 2000, Holmes launched The Holmes Group, which provides knowledge and insight to public relations professionals across a variety of platforms, including a website, an e-newsletter, events, printed reports, research and consulting assignments, and the SABRE Awards competition. The group’s flagship title, The Holmes Report, covers the public relations business in the Americas, EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) and the Asia-Pacific region.

Other speakers will address creativity, business strategy, storytelling and workplace collaboration. Sessions will be led by the owners/operators of Canada’s top PR firms, as well as outside experts, including thought leaders from top Canadian brands.

Speakers include:

  • Steve Ladurantaye, former Globe & Mail journalist, now Partnerships Manager, News & Politics (Canada), Twitter Canada;
  • Karen Howe, Sr. VP, Creative Director and Cannes Lion judge, on making creativity stand out;
  • Kasi Bruno, VP Strategy and Cultural Insight, Y&R, on developing big ideas; and
  • Rebecca Zamon, Huffington Post Canada Living Editor, on writing compelling headlines

“With an outstanding slate of speakers and group sessions, this professional development event provides the next generation of agency practitioners with new thinking that empowers them to innovate and elevate PR as a fundamental component of business success,” said David Gordon, Chair of the CCPRF.  “We are thrilled that some of Canada’s top brands, as well as key influencers within the PR/communications community, are supporting the advancement of our profession.”

The CCPRF Boot Camp is intended for PR agency professionals with seven to 10 years consulting experience, but is open to any PR/communications practitioners interested in sharpening their skill set. There are still spaces available. For more information please visit

The Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms, the only trade organization for public relations in Canada, represents close to 25 multinational and independently owned consultancies with the majority of their revenue generated from the business of public relations.  The goal of the Council is to promote the professionalism and development of public relations consulting and provide thought leadership in areas that influence industry growth.  For more information, visit

Marie-Josée Gagnon, President and Founder of Public Relations firm CASACOM Receives Three Prestigious Business Awards

Marie-Josée Gagnon, President and Founder of Canadian public relations firm CASACOM has just received three prestigious awards recognizing entrepreneurship and business leadership. The awards include the Châtelaine/Profit W100 Canada’s Top Entrepreneurs, the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge and the 2013 RBC Canadian Entrepreneur Awards.

1.     Châtelaine Profit W100 Ranking

On an annual basis, for the last 15 years, PROFIT and Châtelaine magazines have published the W100 ranking of the Top Female Entrepreneurs in Canada. The ranking is based on a score that takes in account, among other factors, the size, growth and profitability of the business.  Marie-Josée and her two partners, Annick Bélanger and Carolyn Ray, ranked 63rd in the standings released this week.  Read more about CASACOM’s success with iögo in this article in Profit Magazine.

2.       IWEC – International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge

Marie-Josée is one of the winners of the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge, a competition that recognizes the success of female entrepreneurs and supporting them in their international development. The awards ceremony takes place in Lima, Peru, from November 11 to 14, 2013.

3.      2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

Marie-Josée Gagnon is a finalist for the RBC Momentum Award of the 2013 RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards of Women of Influence. This prestigious award recognizes outstanding women entrepreneurs from across Canada. The awards will be presented on November 27, 2013, at a gala event in Toronto.

“Receiving these recognitions at such a pivotal moment is a powerful incentive to continue our pursuit of excellence for our clients and for ourselves,” says Marie-Josée Gagnon. “In recent years, CASACOM has shown growth that goes far beyond the average of our industry, and we fully intend to continue on our ambitious growth path.”

To learn more about Marie-Josée Gagnon’s vision for CASACOM, read this article published by Marketing magazine.


CASACOM wins two major public relations awards for the successful introduction of Michaels Stores in Quebec

CASACOM recently distinguished itself by sweeping up two of the most prestigious awards in the Quebec and Canadian public relations industry. CASACOM indeed earned these honours for the comprehensive public relations and marketing program its team developed for the simultaneous opening of the first seven Michaels stores in Quebec. Specifically, CASACOM won Platinum in the category of External Public Relations Program of the Prix d’excellence contest given by the Société québécoise des professionnels en relations publiques (SQPRP), as well as Gold in the category of Canadian Marketing Communications Campaign of the Year from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) in its Awards of Excellence program.

“Our team is thrilled by these honours. They are a testament to the excellence of our strategic counsel, the calibre of our execution, and the passion of each person who played a part in this monumental project. What’s more, these awards celebrate the daring and determination of our client, as well as the trust it places in us, for which we are deeply grateful,” shared Annick Bélanger, Managing Partner of the Montreal Office of CASACOM.

Michaels: a remarkable, respectful entry into Quebec
It goes without saying that entering a new market requires a solid business plan, but just as importantly, it takes an adapted relations approach. CASACOM was at Michaels’ side through every step of the 18-month process leading up to the inauguration of the seven stores. “In addition to developing a strategic communications plan, we counselled Michaels on a number of key decisions. The Michaels team was thus able to understand the subtleties of the Quebec market and adapt its approach accordingly,” said Ms. Bélanger.

The total media reach surpassed 55 Million in neutral or positive media hits, not to mention 25,000 unique visitors to a microsite developed specifically to name a Quebec spokesperson, and some 6,000 Francophone Facebook friends who subscribed to the official Michaels page. To learn more about the five key decisions taken by Michaels, read about it on the CASACOM blog.

Founded in Montréal in 2001, CASACOM is an independent public relations consulting firm that helps clients accelerate business success through communications. With offices in Toronto and in Montreal, we bring a deep understanding of cultural differences resulting in unique and highly effective communications strategies. Our firm was founded with a deep sense of integrity and humanity, and our unique approach to collaboration and excellence gives us the opportunity to truly make a difference in our clients’ businesses. Our highly strategic, creative, and passionate people specialize in corporate communications, public affairs, and marketing communications. CASACOM has 100 partner offices all over the world through its membership in the Worldcom Group, the largest network of independent public relations firms in the world. CASACOM also belongs to the Canadian Council of PR Firms and is certified WeConnect Canada. For more information please visit

Ultima Foods and CASACOM receive a 2013 Silver Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), for Reputation /Brand Management Sole Canadian Companies Honoured across North America

Montreal, QC, June 17, 2013 – On Thursday, June 13, in New York, Ultima Foods and CASACOM received a prestigious 2013 Silver Anvil for Reputation /Brand Management from the Public Relations Society America (PRSA) for the campaign launch of iögo yogurt that led to one of the most impactful brand launches in Canada.  Ultima Foods and CASACOM are the only Canadian companies that received an award at this gala that brings together the biggest names in the public relations industry across North America. The iögo campaign was honoured in the category Reputation/Brand Management — Business – Companies with Sales up to $500M.

“This prestigious award highlights our team’s creativity, adaptability and teamwork across Canada,” said Diane Jubinville, director of public relations and consumer relations  at Ultima Foods and Carolyn Ray, Managing Partner of CASACOM Toronto. “The strategies and execution created great impact, resulting in iögo rapidly becoming a preferred yogurt brand for Canadians.”

This is the second award for iögo this week. On June 11, CASACOM also received the Bronze award at the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) National Awards Ceremony in Ottawa. CASACOM exceeded all communication objectives for the launch of iögo.  The positive media coverage reached 97 million impressions; something unheard of for the launch of a new brand in the food and beverage category. The results on social media were also impressive, including 1.5 million views on Twitter during the first month.  The iögomania clearly manifested itself, among other things, through consumer engagement on digital platforms and the brand continues to resonate positively everywhere. In fact, iögo marketshare reached over 10 per cent just three months after the launch while its brand awareness across Canada reached 80 per cent.

About PRSA
PRSA is the world’s largest association of public relations professionals. Each year, the organization recognizes the world’s best public relations campaigns, tactics and programs. The PRSA 2013 Silver Anvil Awards Ceremony honors organizations that have successfully addressed a contemporary public relations issue with exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness. Entries are evaluated for their strategic nature using four key components — research, planning, execution and evaluation. For more information, visit and use the hashtag #PRSANVIL to follow the news on Twitter.

About the Launch of iögo
How long does it take a company to completely turn around?  The Ultima Foods yogurt company had the Yoplait licence in Canada since 1971. In 2011, the situation changed when General Foods acquired Yoplait. Ultima Foods then decided to create, develop and launch its own yogurt brand, iögo.  Beyond this great launch of products in August 2012, Ultima Foods, a 100% home-grown business with community values, has been discovered by Canadians.

Founded in Montréal in 2001, CASACOM is an independent public relations consulting firm that helps clients accelerate business success through communications. With offices in Toronto and in Montreal, we bring a deep understanding of cultural differences resulting in unique and highly effective communications strategies. Our firm was founded with a deep sense of integrity and humanity, and our unique approach to collaboration and excellence gives us the opportunity to truly make a difference in our clients’ businesses. Our highly strategic, creative, and passionate people specialize in corporate communications, public affairs, and marketing communications. CASACOM has 100 partner offices all over the world through its membership in the Worldcom Group, the largest network of independent public relations firms in the world. CASACOM also belongs to the Canadian Council of PR Firms and is certified WeConnect Canada. For more information please visit

— 30 —

For information: Kara Latta, (416) 944-2145

CASACOM and Ultima Foods’ Iögo Selected as Finalists for US PRSA Silver Anvil Awards

Canadian communications firm CASACOM and its client, Ultima Foods, have been selected as finalists for the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Silver Anvil public relations award in the Reputation/Brand Management — Business – Companies with Sales up to $500M category, for the iögo campaign that led to one of the most notable Canadian product launches in recent years. Out of 144 businesses selected from 847 submissions, CASACOM is the only Canadian communications firm that made the shortlist.  PRSA is the largest global association for public relations professionals, rewarding the world’s best campaigns, strategies and programs.

The award ceremony will take place on June 13 in New York City. “For us, it is already a victory.  We are extremely proud of this exceptional international recognition which highlights the efforts of our entire CASACOM team across Canada, and especially the confidence of a courageous and visionary client,” said Marie-Josée Gagnon, President and Founder of CASACOM.

About the iögo launch
How fast a company can turn around? Ultima Foods (UF) had the Yoplait license for Canada for 40 years. In 2011, the situation changed when General Mills acquired Yoplait. UF then decided to launch a complete new brand of yogurt called the iögo brand – “the new way of saying yogurt”. CASACOM helped UF transition from its 40-year heritage of being a ‘Yoplait’ company to one with a new vision and culture and creating what is now as known as “iögomania.”

CASACOM strengthens its Senior Management Team: Carolyn Ray and Annick Bélanger become Partners

Marie-Josée Gagnon, President and Founder of independent communications consulting firm CASACOM, is pleased to announce that Carolyn Ray and Annick Bélanger have become partners of the firm. Respectively acting as Managing Partners of the Toronto and Montreal offices, they become the first shareholders at CASACOM after the Founder.

“As we celebrate 12 years in business, it is gratifying and highly stimulating to have these two great leaders at my side and to acknowledge their expertise and commitment to communications,” says Marie-Josée Gagnon. “Carolyn and Annick truly embody the CASACOM brand through their total involvement in everything they do, for our clients, our fellow team members or for our company. In addition, we truly enjoy working together because we share the values of excellence, impact, and humanity and a vision of the future marked by the desire to thrive.”

With an increasingly pronounced presence in English-speaking Canada as well as highly successful large-scale projects including the recent Canadian iögo yogurt brand launch and Michaels Arts & Crafts in Quebec, CASACOM is at a turning point. The arrival of the new shareholders aligns with a desire to strengthen the management team for future growth across Canada.

Carolyn Ray has led the Toronto office since its inception in September 2011. With over 20 years of experience in strategic communications consulting – in PR, B2B and B2C branding – she advises clients in industries such as retail, healthcare, manufacturing and consumer goods and specializes in brand marketing, internal communications and training and corporate communications. Recognized for her innovative perspective, Carolyn applies her expertise, enthusiasm and energy to help clients add value to their business through insights, influence and measurable impact.

With over 16 years’ experience in the public sector and a degree in political science from UQAM, Annick Bélanger has been part of the CASACOM team since 2006 and has led the Montreal office since 2011. Expert in issues and crisis management, she is recognized as a solid strategist. Her keen analytical skills and critical eye help Annick to quickly identify client challenges and to develop strategic plans to help them achieve their goals efficiently and effectively.  Through her work with political and union decision makers, Annick appreciates the importance of transparency, integrity, rapid action and dialogue.