Archive for September, 2020

Beyond PR Podcast – Season 2 Episode 01 – Karen Stewart

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Nicole Herback, Account Coordinator

Karen Stewart’s list of accomplishments and business ventures seems endless:  entrepreneur, published author and highly sought-after speaker. There is no stopping her!

In the first episode of Season 2, Shauna speaks with long-time client and friend Karen Stewart, Founder and CEO of Fairway Divorce Solutions. The two speak openly about their first encounter, and Karen’s approach to business as a woman starting out in the financial sector. Speaking candidly with Shauna about her experiences that drove the launch of Fairway, Karen is a firm believer in understanding – and following – her ‘why’.

With a long history of entrepreneurial ventures and business success, Karen is self-proclaimed disruptor – approaching every industry she enters with a determination to leave it better than when she started.

What’s next for Karen? Referring to the ‘entrepreneurial gap’, Karen’s determination to continue her long legacy of successful ventures is brought on by her life-long drive to go beyond what she thinks she can accomplish. From discussions about single parenthood, to what lessons COVID-19 has taught her – Karen shares her story and key learnings as a serial entrepreneur to inspire Canadians to keep going and find the silver lining in every situation.

The Beyond PR podcast brings open, honest, and sometimes never-before-heard stories from notable leaders. Subscribe to Beyond PR on Anchor, Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Nicole is an Account Coordinator at Brookline Public Relations. She is a writer at heart and thrives creating anything from a long-lead op-ed to a clever Instagram caption.

Amidst cancel culture, public relations is the lawyer in the court of public opinion

Thursday, September 17th, 2020

Nicole Herback, Account Coordinator

Why reputation management is crucial to avoid and atone for mistakes in the public arena

Much has been written on cancel culture and the sharp downfall that notable figures and organizations have experienced in recent years. Some of these stories have impressive comebacks, while others fade away into the unknown. Whether just a few missteps or a major transgression brought to light decades later, anyone can have their reputation rebuked in an instant.

In the public relations profession, cancel culture highlights the importance of reputation management and the delicate relationship between a brand and its audience. Public relations differs from our close cousins in marketing and advertising because it is defined by two-way communication as opposed to one-way communication, and relies on an element of trust between the two parties to communicate and coexist successfully.

As you might be able to guess, losing that trust can be detrimental to a brand. I can think of over half a dozen highly revered institutions in the past three years who have fallen from grace after repeated mistakes and poorly managed recovery plans. Even more unfortunate is that those who fall out of favour are often the people and organizations that we trusted the most.

This begs the question: What do you do if you are #cancelled, and how can you avoid it?

Well, the best way to avoid criticism is to never make a mistake or have anything bad happen to you. We know that isn’t practical advice to give to a client – or anyone for that matter – so the next best practice is to acknowledge an issue (even if only internal), be transparent, and own up to any mistakes. Much like an open and shut case, brands need to acknowledge issues fully, leaving no doubt behind in the stakeholder’s mind that a problem has been adequately addressed. If handled well, an organization can with time come out of a crisis with an even better, more authentic brand image than it started with.

As PR professionals, we know that the best way to react to a crisis is to be prepared. Establishing a chain of communication, designating a spokesperson, and understanding a brand and its audiences are among the elements that are key in times of crisis – when time is never on your side. If an organization is really prepared, they would have a crisis communications plan on hand outlining exact processes and predetermined responses to any issue that might arise.

As public relations professionals, we can have skin in the game from any angle in cancel culture. We could advise the cancelled, those doing the cancelling, or even an unsuspecting stakeholder that has barely had enough time to get caught up on a scandal by the time their mentions are flooding with angry users. When crisis seems to be hitting from all directions, PR professionals can provide support for digital communications while also braving the media storm from a traditional news sense. In a society where we are all so interconnected, one damaged reputation can have detrimental ripple effects. Public relations is like the lawyer in the court of public opinion where we come to a mutual understanding with our audiences.

The abrupt nature of cancel culture highlights the intolerance that the public has developed toward what is considered to be inappropriate or offensive behaviour. People have grown impatient with recycled statements and are tired of seeing buzzwords such as “growth” and “reflection” used time and time again, only to be in hot water months later for a similar offence. For those in the public eye, it is even more crucial to be aware and prepared due to a higher level of scrutiny.

In another sense, cancel culture has made way for audiences to conduct checks and balances in a way perhaps more impactful than ever before. One could argue that organizations and brands have a heightened sense of accountability as their customers and stakeholders have come to realize the power they hold.

Either way, public relations serves a versatile role within the context of cancel culture. Amidst the chaos that can be likened to the free fall of a rollercoaster, public relations professionals are here to provide steadfast, unflappable direction to come out on top – or at least above water.

Nicole is a Account Coordinator at Brookline Public Relations. She is a writer at heart and thrives creating anything from a long-lead op-ed to a clever Instagram caption.

Finding The Fun: Westman Village’s Community-Wide Scavenger Hunt

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2020

Ottilie Coldbeck, Public Relations Assistant

With COVID-19 seeing the closure of many restaurant and retail operations throughout Calgary, many businesses in the city were struggling to keep their doors open. As public spaces started to re-open, allowing customers back into their stores, many businesses, including Westman Village’s local retailers, still faced challenging times with limited foot traffic and as a new build, limited awareness of the offerings. Given this, Brookline saw an opportunity to support Westman Village through an innovative, community-wide scavenger hunt – to help drum up excitement and create awareness for the newly reopened businesses.

While COVID has impacted many in-person activities, the Brookline team planned and executed aa socially distanced event for local media and influencers to enjoy Westman Village’s hand-selected local restaurants and retailers.

After a successful event in September, where Brookline invited media and influencers to experience “A Day in the Life of a Westman Village Resident” – the team added an exciting twist, a scavenger hunt.

Attendees, including notable Calgary bloggers and media, worked their way through Westman Village with a series of clues, directing them to destinations throughout the resort-style community. The interactive tour brought media to each retailer in the Village, as well as a few additional stops to experience the community’s one-of-a-kind amenities and lakefront location. Working with the diverse restaurants and retailers within the Village, Brookline provided guests with an immersive experience and samplings of what it is available to residents and visitors of the retail street.

Ensuring the safety of all involved, Brookline invited individual media, along with a guest, to enjoy their day at Westman Village in staggered time slots, providing each guest with the time they needed to truly understand the unique concept that is Westman Village. Brookline also provided suggested posts as well as created hand-outs with social channels of all the individual retailers to make it easy for media to post about each stop on their digital channels.

Brookline conducted event logistics and media/influencer outreach to secure attendees. The intimate event welcomed five media and resulted in over 76 individual social media posts.

Brookline is thrilled to have coordinated this event with Westman Village and continues to assist in its public relations efforts for its many diverse home, retail, and community offerings. For more information about Calgary’s first resort-style community, visit for more details.     

Ottilie Coldbeck is a Public Relations Assistant at Brookline Public Relations. As a self-proclaimed adventure seeker, Ottilie challenges herself to remain outside her comfort zone in all aspects of her life. Ottilie has a passion for story-telling – helping brands communicate their messages in an authentic and engaging way.