Workshop Speakers

The CEO as a Digital Communicator:
Communications Strategies to Protect and Enhance Your Brand and the Leader

In this workshop, Jane Antoniak, MCM, APR and Alex Sévigny, PhD, APR will discuss various communications strategies you can use to protect and enhance your brand and its leader, including: 

  • How and to what extent is strategic communications management applied to leadership digital  communications in Canada? 
  • How to best employ the CEO to be a visible leader via social media and possibly humanize the brand.
  • How can influential leadership and strategic communications work hand in hand via digital technology?
  • How to strategically create an authentic online persona for your leader, policies and guidelines, and evaluation while protecting the leader and the brand from online risks.
Strategies on how to act as a trusted advisor to the leader in the area of leadership communications using digital technologies.

Presented by:

Jane Antoniak, MCM, APR, Manager, Communications & Media Relations, King's University College at Western University

Jane Antoniak (MCM ’18) received an undergraduate degree from the Carleton University School of Journalism and a Master’s degree in Communications Management from McMaster University/Syracuse University. After a productive career in national broadcasting and print journalism she turned her attention to media relations and communications.

Jane is the Manager, Communications & Media Relations at King’s University College, London, Ontario at Western University. She has a particular interest in social/digital integrated communications with an eye to leadership communications, recruitment and retention of students. She recently earned her APR from the Canadian Public Relations Society and is a member of both CPRS Hamilton and IABC London.

Jane is also an instructor of Strategic Public Relations in the Corporate Communications and Public Relations program at Fanshawe College, London, Ontario. In her spare time she is a culinary and theatre writer for eatdrink magazine in Southern Ontario and a volunteer Board member of Boler Mountain in London, Ontario.

Alex Sévigny, PhD, APR
Associate Professor of Communications Management and Communication Studies, McMaster University

Alex is associate professor of communications management at McMaster University, where was director of the MCM program for eight years, leading the program to become Canada’s premier master’s degree for communicators and creative professionals. He is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Professional Communication (

He has worked as a data-driven communications, management and strategy consultant since 2003 with significant experience in politics, technology, health care and government. He is Principal at



Be a Responsible Communicator:
Avoid "Washing" Your Corporate Social Responsibility Report and Messages

Paula-Bernardino,-MCM.pngWith the rise of Corporate Social Reporting (CSR) reporting, questions have emerged regarding its true utility; CSR reports may more closely resemble marketing materials than financial statements as much of the data companies provide can be cherry picked. 

How to focus on portraying your organization as a truly and authentic dedicated corporate citizen and avoid damaging the organization's reputation?

The session will engage attendees and will be interactive as attendees will be presented with examples and cases to discuss, including cases from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis situation.

3 key learning points that audiences will take away from my session:
- what is “washing” is the CSR space?
- how can you be a responsible CSR communicator?
- "Coronawashing" vs examples of best practices

Presented by:
Paula Bernardino, MCM, Independent Consultant, Communication & Corporate Responsibility

Paula has an expertise in strategic corporate communications. Specializing in Corporate Responsibility since 2014, she’s been responsible for the implementation and management of a company’s corporate responsibility strategy and engagement in Canada where she implemented and managed an award winning Regional Charity Program.

Paula became a certified CSR Practitioner from the Centre for Sustainability and Excellence (CSE). She a Masters in Communications Management.

Public Relations and Public Engagement:
What is the Difference and How Can We Collaborate?


In the 21st century multimedia environment, the public expect to play a greater role and have more say in shaping public policy and even private sector initiatives. Public engagement is an unique discipline, but public relations plays an important role in ensuring that any public engagement campaign is successful. Attend this workshop to learn how to support public engagement to increase public confidence in your organization and get effective feedback from your target audiences.

Presented by:
Jillian Glover, APR, Sr. Communications Advisor, Transport Canada 

Jillian is an accredited communications professional specializing in transportation and urban issues. She is skilled in developing and delivering communications strategies, media relations, writing, and public engagement. She writes about urban issues at her blog, This City Life —named one of the best city blogs around the world by The Guardian. She is also a public speaker on issues such as city life and family friendly cities. 


Designing Your Website From the Outside In:
How Knowing Your Audience Creates a Winning Site

CPRS_EDM-Headshots_ColinBabiuk22Feb2019.jpgAn organization’s website is arguably the most important communications tactic they have. Their digital presence represents the organization for thousands of online visitors—-some who may never communicate directly with the organization or set foot inside their brick and mortar location (especially true today, given physical restrictions imposed due to COVID-19).

Managing a website redesign project is becoming common in the career of today’s public relations professional, and too often, the content and structure of the new site is approached from the point of view of the organization itself. However, this can lead to a key limitation in both PR best practice and website design: the one-way communication trap. So, how do you ensure you're getting your organizations' info out while still meeting the needs of your audience?

CPRS_EDM-Headshots_MarkHunterLavigne_22Feb2019.jpgThis workshop will use case studies and examples to challenge attendees to approach website redesign using a two-way communication model and user-centric approach, more commonly referred to as user experience design (UX), and:

  • incorporate elements of UX research and philosophy
  • create, prioritize, and organize content from the user’s perspective
  • use visitor research to inform a new site’s direction: from architecture, to content, to testing
  • measure to ensure objectives are being met
  • ensure internal communication is paramount in the project plan to increase understanding, awareness and engagement 

1. Helpful info for those within your organization/leadership demonstrating the importance of including UX research and design in a website redesign PR;
2. How to ensure two-way communication best practices are part of your web redesign project;
3. How to  measure the success of your user-centric approach using the RACE formula;
4. Tips for how to include and assess UX information requests on an RFP; 

Presented by:
Alyson Gourley-Cramer, MA, APR, Principal Consultant, Monogram Communications

Alyson Gourley-Cramer is an Easterner transplanted in the West with 15 years in the public relations profession in sport, education, and corporate communications sectors. She's managed six website redesign and two app development projects in that time, winning a CPRS Award of Excellence in 2015 for her integrated mobile site and digital sign project for the 2015 Canada Winter Games. 

Alyson has acquired both an MA in Professional Communications and her APR at last year's CPRS conference.  Now, Principal of  Monogram Communications - a PR firm, Alyson loves helping organizations with their digital communications conundrums. 

Jonathan Kochis, Owner, Resolution Interactive Media

Jonathan is an NNG-certified UX researcher and product designer with over 10 years of experience in digital product and service design both as an individual designer and researcher and as a team lead.

Jonathan works both as an external consultant and as an embedded designer on development teams delivering web and mobile products. His experience ranges from helping pre-product start-ups get off the ground to advising Fortune 500 companies through design strategy, product strategy, and usability testing. This experience includes leading complete overhauls of large, content-heavy websites in both the public and private sectors.


Integrating Content in your Decentralized World:
Tools, Structure and Processes

Kurt-Heinrich.pngThis session will detail the steps taken to build an integrated content strategy to knit together core content from three different teams in order to drive UBC’s key communications priorities.

It will also explore the challenges faced by the project team and it will present a road-map for other decentralized organizations and communications teams eager to integrate, without taking a command and control approach to doing so.

1) Tips for managing conflict, relationships with stakeholders and competing interests.

2) How to create an adaptable structure that can leverage input from different communications disciplines including media relations, marketing, corporate communications and internal communications.

3) Tips for socializing your strategy beyond the core team. 

4) How to utilize project management technology and tools to improve workflow and integrate your approach. 

5) Tips for tracking success and measuring impact.

Presented by:
Kurt Heinrich, Sr. Director, Media Relations, University of British Columbia

Kurt Heinrich is the Senior Director, Media Relations at the University of British Columbia. Prior to this role, he has held senior communications and public affairs roles with both Simon Fraser University and the Vancouver School Board.

Kurt is a past president of the Vancouver Chapter of the Canadian Public Relations Society and is a Trustee on the Board of the Vancouver Public Library where he also Chair of the Community Relations, Planning and Development Committee. 



Rebels, Mavericks and Friendly Challengers:
Employee Activism and the Corporate Communicator

This workshop will explore the steady rise in employee activism and the role of the corporate communicator as boundary-spanner (listening and monitoring issues important to employees as well as advising and counselling senior management on appropriate action).

Following this workshop, attendees will:

1) Acquire a deep understanding of the impact of employee activism on an organization’s brand –both positive (ambassadors) and negative (walk-outs);

2) Recognize the workplace is far from homogenous (with five generations at work) and discover the variety of issues important to employees in Canada today;

3) Explore internal measurement tools to monitor employee activism;

4) Understand the role of corporate communicators in the development and implementation of whistle-blowing (etc.) policies and change management within organizations;

5) Gain tips on how to advise the C-suite on addressing employee activism in their organization 

Presented by:
Maryjane Martin, APR, FCPRS, Founder and Chief Consultant, MJ Martin and Company

Maryjane Martin is a communication management consultant specializing in digital, corporate and internal communication. Clients include: technology companies, government ministries and agencies and financial service companies.  She is the recipient of a numerous national awards in writing and communication planning and was named Toronto Public Relations Practitioner of the Year in 2012.

Mary Jane has a MSc in Communication Management from Syracuse University and is an accredited member and Fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society.  
Mary Jane teaches Public Relations Planning, Programming and Budgeting at the Chang School, Ryerson University and Public Relations Ethics at University of Victoria. 

Bullied Online for Doing Your Job

Kurt-Heinrich.pngIt's the wild west out there for 'new media', and anyone with a twitter account thinks it's fair game to pick on PR people for doing their jobs. They don't like your organization or your issue, and make you their public scapegoat. Join a discussion of what it's like to become a target, learn from hindsight on how to cope, and take away some strategies on what to do if it happens to you.

Following this workshop, you will:

1) Learn from two examples of online bullying by 'new media' at a federal inquiries about fisheries and a major school district..

2) Take away good and bad examples of coping strategies.

3) Understand how it could happen to you, how you might prevent it and how to deal with it if you become the scapegoat.

Presented by:
Carla S. Shore, APR, FCPRS, Principal, C-Shore Communications Inc.

Carla S. Shore APR FCPRS is Principal of C-Shore Communications Inc. Work in BC & Ontario education, government, tech, agencies, health and non-profits includes issues management, communications audits, strategy, public engagement and media relations.
She was Director of Communications for the Cohen Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of the Sockeye Salmon and acting Director of Communications for the Vancouver School District. Carla volunteers as Chair of Vancouver Farmers Markets.

A Celebration of Identity and Inclusion

Kurt-Heinrich.pngFor the past three years, Sheridan has raised the Pride flag, to kick off celebrations that align with Pride month in its home communities. 

This case study shares how our efforts have evolved over time to avoid appearing tokenistic and to create a pan-institutional effort that fosters inclusion, respect and participation.

In June 2017, Sheridan raised the Pride flag on its campuses for the first time in its history, in response to a student request. While many supported the effort, there were small pockets who felt the institution lacked the moral authority declare itself a true ally and champion.

In 2018 and 2019 a different tack was taken, with students, staff and faculty working collaboratively to honour Sheridan’s commitment to equity and inclusion.

1) A recap of principles related to symbolism, shared identity, and universal design;

2) Our strategies for boosting participation (messaging/font choices, involving people with lived experience, contests, live-streaming);

3) The educational component we delivered through our libraries about inclusivity;

4) How we adopted a new flag policy and procedures to enable students to change their name or gender in our systems;

5) The efforts we undertook to turn critics into engaged volunteers. 

Presented by:
Christine Szustaczek, MCM, APR, Chief Communications Officer, Sheridan College 

Christine Szustaczek, MCM, APR is the Chief Communications Officer at Sheridan College. Prior to joining Sheridan in 2013, she ran her own communications consultancy for ten years, helping numerous colleges, universities, hospitals and social service agencies in Canada to communicate their impact.

She’s co-President of CPRS Hamilton and VP of the Alice and Murray Maitland Charitable Foundation. She’s and avid learner who is passionate about conveying the power of education to transform lives.

Winning PR Strategies for Media Coverage During and After COVID-19

With the ever-changing media, and the creation of new ‘influencer’-type media, PR practitioners must adapt their media relations strategies and multiply all-around media coverage opportunities: traditional media, web media and influencers.
With Covid-19, media relation specialists must adapt their campaigns and align with the various audiences' new temporary
way of life.

This workshop will share ideas for winning strategies that will make your clients shine during this pandemia.  

1) Understanding the new media and the way to engage with them

2) The importance of customization and the art of developing relationships

3) Various ways to highlight projects in 2020

4) Analysis metrics to apply with each media type

5) The importance of being different with media offensives/outreach

6) Adapt strategies to the Covid-19 era. 

CPRS-branded-headshots-2020_Thara-(1).pngPresented by:
Thara Tremblay-Nantel, President/Founder, Thara Communications and Agenda PR

A curious entrepreneur who likes to engage with others, Thara was born for PR.

In the profession for 10 years now, Thara founded her own agency, Thara Communications,  6 years ago, and co-founded, a collective communication startup, 4 years ago.

She describes herself as a matchmaker whose mission consists in making media fall in love with her clients.

Solneige Diaz, Vice-President,
TharaCommunications and Co-Founder, Agenda

Solneige Diaz is Vice-President of Thara Communications, and co-founder of AgendaPR. 

Passionate for culture and media, she puts her heart and energy in showcasing projects such as Juste pour rire, Metro mon épicier, Tourisme Basses Laurentides, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, etc. She taps into her creativity to make every accomplishment stand apart.

Along with Thara Tremblay-Nantel and Julien Tremblay, she co-founded AgendaPR, an event calendar helping every PR practitioner stay informed of launches and events in their field. AgendaPR also organizes an annual conference intended for industry stakeholders, so they can improve their knowledge and stay atop the industry’s new trends.  



What's in a name: Tales from the trenches of renaming and rebranding a public post-secondary institution (and delivering on an experiential brand promise in the time of COVID-19)

CPRS-branded-headshots-2020_Sarah.pngCoast Mountain College's Executive Director of Communications, Sarah Zimmerman, APR shares lessons learned from the complex process of renaming and rebranding a public post-secondary school with the strategic goal of becoming the college of choice for experiential, place-based learning. This workshop will focus on the unexpected hurdles along the way and how the college works toward keeping its experiential brand promise in the face of COVID-19.

Presented by:

Sarah Zimmerman, APR, Executive Director of Communications, Coast Mountain College

Sarah Zimmerman has spent her career working as a journalist turned public relations practitioner, currently as the Executive Director of Communications at Coast Mountain College in Terrace, BC. 

Sarah’s communications team led the rebranding and renaming of the college in 2018 after more than 40 years of being called Northwest Community College. Her public relations career began in 2007 when she transitioned from journalism to communications consulting serving clients in the public, private, corporate and non-profit sectors.

She has worked in corporate communications and has spent the last six years in the post secondary education sector. An Accredited Public Relations (APR) professional, she is a member of the Canadian Public Relations Society and is a past director on its Northern Lights board.

Ms. Zimmerman is a passionate volunteer and has given her time, talents, and resources to countless groups in the community from organizations that promote healthy living and sport, to economic development, and the arts.