Finishing the first lap

My arrival to Canada and the first semester of the CCPR program, happened to be just like the seasonal whether. My experience through the winter was very hard to carry on, specially because I come from a very warm country where wearing a light sweater could be suffocating.

Being far away from home altogether with the preparation for the everyday snow and many layers of clothes, was the biggest physical and mental challenge that I have ever been through. As well for the academic matter, the change was huge. The cultural shock between the the two, Venezuelan and Canadian educational system, was very interesting too. It wasn’t easy, in fact it is not easy, but I’m very thankful for having the opportunity to learn and exchange knowledge that will nourish me in many aspects of my life.

The metaphor of the season suits perfect with what I’ve felt since the beginning. It has been difficult, specially for being an international student, but now that the term is over and the weather is finally getting nicer, my vision towards the program now seems to be more clear and less overwhelming than the beginning. It is hard, but nobody said it was easy, which makes me feel proud of my class and myself for surviving the first avalanche of assignments and events for this first semesters in CCPR.

Taking a look to the past, group assignments will always be the most challenging and fun experiences for me. I like the way we learn how to handle the “colours” of each member of the group and learn how to break down the tasks so each one of us is working according to our strengths and weaknesses, almost like doing a SWOT analysis to ourselves automatically, but this couldn’t be possible if we hadn’t done so many presentations and group assignments. I’m sure my classmates agree with me when I say that the word “meeting” was one of the most repeated words during this period. But it worth it! Specially because you get to know the people that is going to be around you for eight months, your colleagues, and because this is a preparation for the similar situations we have to go through in “real life” when working with a new team at work.

I consider myself as a lucky person. I’m from that small percentage of people that can proudly say “I studied something that I love”. I consider communication as a powerful tool that could put the world upside down, depending on how we use it. This program has definitely contributed to my training as a professional, for I used to appreciate communication as a tool, but now I think is mere power; and as a communicator, I feel responsible and honoured to be part of this big force.

Since I started my education at the university I learned about semiotics and proxemics, how to identify and take symbols, colours, font types, dress codes; to combine them and create messages to persuade. The CCPR program continues adding a big weigh in that matter, for when I watch the news, interviews and material of the kind, I can’t stop detecting signs of the people participating, and criticizing whether it was a good or a bad job of the PR professional behind the screen, and almost instinctively I start to create an strategy and thinking the way I should have done it.

Different subjects, projects and personalities joined us during the first half of the program to share how life in the communications field will be; different experiences that make us mature as future professionals. I’m just going to enjoy this well deserved break for now, while I get started for the next term, which will get bright and fun just like summer.

And now, if you excuse me, I’m going to celebrate the long break!


Venezuela is still waiting for an answer

When I was at the university, my teachers were very determined when they said that social media wasn’t considered as a communication media but a tool. I wonder if they still feel the same, after the past events in Venezuela.                            

The Youth Day is celebrated in Venezuela on the February 12, to commemorate the day of the Battle of La Victoria, when Jose Felix Ribas won a decisive victory over the Spanish colonial army, with the help of around a thousand of students from schools and universities.

The past February 12, was the perfect scenario for the opposition party to have a march against the government of the illegitimate president Nicolas Maduro; and raise voices against violence, scarcity, public service malfunction, and other issues affecting the venezuelan society. When Maduro realized that the protest was a massive success in different states around the country, he decided to send troops from the national guards, whose labour is to guarantee the security of the nation.

Those living the Bolivarian Revolution, know that people are angry and very tired of this 15 years of abuse, and that was what made the students go harder about the slogans they were singing, getting louder and closer. The troops, protected by the law and owned by the government, started to shoot tear bombs at the students, and they answered with rocks or whatever they could throw. Chaos ruled the streets and suddenly it was almost a civil war, the only difference is that the troops were armed with weapons, and the students were armed with their voices and their signs.

While two students were killed and a dozen injured, there was soap opera on the national TV channels. Rapidly, the news were spread through the social network, and the international media started to come to the country to cover the news. CNN was banned from the channels and the reporters sent back home. There is a media blackout, the reason why the social media is having an important role in Venezuela, because is the only way that citizens have to be informed and to let the world know about the situation.

The next video is a CNN interview with a representative from the Consulate of Venezuela in Canada, about the violence against the students during the protests. This is the best example to show you the PR style of the Venezuelan government to “answer” uncomfortable questions. 

NOTE: To see the english subtitles, select “Español/Spanish”.

Managing the project of life

I missed the true colors workshop, that is why I had to work on a different assignment, but I did this test and I found I was orange and blue. Yes, it might sound a little bit crazy, but no, I actually accept the best of both worlds. Even though I don’t think it should be taken that literal, the general idea of the meanings of the colours is close to reality, at least in my case.

Orange and blue. Together they sound like a big contradiction, but actually they make me bring to the surface positive aspects about me, and the best part is that I have a few from both. Sorry, am I being too orangey now?

For a reason that I’m trying to figure out, I am terrible as a planner of my own time, but when I have to work in a group, I feel more responsible and encouraged to accomplish the immediate goals or at least be there in case that someone needs me.

I introduce my colours for you to understand this awkward and uncomfortable situation I have with my friend “time”. Time is one of the enemies of project managers, a significant constrain that clients sometimes don’t understand at all.

Throughout this program, I have learned something beyond the educational facts, and is this metaphor I was thinking of since I had to prepare this post, and it is something like: Life is a project and we are the managers. As simple as that.

I can find similarities even in some parts of a project brief, for example, the evaluation. The results will be measured according to our development. It is important to choose measurable goals, is what they taught us, but is there a way to measure success or happiness? Because those are a couple of the main objectives we all have set for our lives and jobs.

I dare to include constrains, like the budget, because money is not always there when we need it, even for the lucky ones born in a wealthy family. Money comes and goes and we need to make important decisions to use it wise.

I already talked about time, but what about that sheet or board where we actually see the tasks and the days we have to complete them. Of course I’m talking about the schedule. Sometimes we think we have all the time of the world. Just because the brief is due to the next week, doesn’t mean we have a one week vacation to start working the night before (have you ever been there? I know)

About constrains in people, well, just as money people come and go too, that’s why I think it is important to train yourself to manage all the things you can and avoid depending on anyone, because at the end they may go like we all do to for different reasons, and the tasks will stay still until we start working on them.

Along our lifetime, we experiment all this ups and downs, amazing experiences that make us gain knowledge and not so good moments that makes us stronger and give us a valuable hint to not make the same mistakes again. It makes me think of the research I have to do before starting everything for class, “do some research to see what they have done in the past.”

I can say that project management as a subject, has provided me with tools to be more organized and to not be scared of time or schedules. Once you trace a plan and have the will to do it, things will start to come up.

I was asked to comment my thoughts about the role project management plays in the corporate communications/public relations industry, what I think is obvious after some reflections, but to sum up, I think that project management is the key to be clear and make clients, colleagues or chiefs, to really understand what an idea or project is about. This way we avoid a lot of inconvenients and stressful times, and the results will be optimum for everybody.

Now that I see it as a project; with short, medium and long term goals, objectives, risks that I could easily identify through a SMART or SWOT analysis, this situation with time and schedules, should be solved as soon as I carry out my plan.

PR and Marketing: Let’s get together

Wake up. Take a shower and think about the clothes you want to wear today. That’s fine, you can take a few minutes more (or maybe an hour) to figure it out. Put on your clothes. Comb your hair gently: Straight? Curls? Curls are perfect. Don’t forget about makeup. Some perfume, and we’re done. Wait… Maybe other shoes?

The way we dress, the colors we wear, if we buy a tea instead of a coffee and where we buy it, making eye contact, walking fast or slow, even a little smile after a “thank you”, all this things can speak by themselves because we are constantly communicating.

If I look back in time when I was starting my bachelor’s degree in media communications – marketing and publicity , I see myself as a teenager who thought that the entretainment world was fun. Of course I had no idea of how important and essential the media communications and the public relations were, and how we are exposed to their influence all the time.

An average person is exposed everyday to approximately 3,000 advertising impacts everyday, which is more than a million a year. Not mentioning the brands that we see on people’s clothes, cars, the coffee they drink or the big signs with the name of the store/brand on it. Not only out at the street but inside of our house too.

Now, how is marketing related to public relations? I thought they were different from one another, and it has always been a matter of discussion between the two parts, but now I realize that both has more in common than some “marketing haters” may think.

Our lives are based in public relations. Just as the marketing principle, we all try to promote and sell ourselves, but we do it through our attitude and actions instead of a media coverage. One of the things that I’ve learned at the CCPR program so far, is that our job is to be the link between the company and the public, creating an entire identity depending on the objectives that the company has set. To build and maintain the reputation of the company that we represent, is like building and maintaining our own reputation, and this is a goal that both PR and marketing can materialize.

There are professionals working really hard to make the companies succeed, and I dare to say that those companies wouldn’t be that successful if it weren’t by marketing and PR professionals, because together they can make big things happen.

This post is dedicated to my colleagues, because we are about to be on front of what other people has built with effort and years of dedication. As communicators, we were given powerful tools that make us capable to create a message, and this message can spread like wild fire and have a direct influence in people’s choice. Let’s make it worth by using this gift to communicate in a wise way, always respecting ourselves and others, keeping in mind our values and where we come from.