Six teams and three brands in Battle of the Burgers

A TEP educational project by professor Daniel Schneider and Associate Dean Bob Richardson of the Bachelor of Public Relations Program at Humber College’s School of Media Studies.


A recruitment initiative

Humber’s Bachelor of Public Relations program offers an annual PR Boot Camp to high school students in order to open them to the possibility of a career in public relations.

In previous years, the program was offered at Lakeshore campus; however, it was a challenge to get participants to attend. Instead, this year we redesigned the initiative as an after-school program on their home turf.


Humber BPR partners with Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School

As a pilot project, we launched the new format in conjunction with Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School.

The program was designed as a talent-search challenge called Battle of the Burgers. Students would be broken into teams to develop and pitch their concept of a public relations campaign promoting a well-recognized hamburger brand.

The program was first set for November 2017, at a time when high school students are thinking about options for post-secondary education. However, due to the college strike, the event was postponed to February 2018, spread over two days.


Background on the Battle of the Burgers challenge

Some of the best-known fast-food companies are not only in the business of selling delicious hamburgers, but they also need to create public goodwill and consumer trust in their brand. How does McDonald’s build public trust in its name? The brand created a campaign called Our food. Your questions.

Through the campaign, McDonald’s answers some pretty difficult questions from customers who are concerned about their health. The company faces public criticism head-on, so that consumers can feel safe with what they are eating. The program is effective, because it demystifies negative conceptions about McDonald’s food.


The challenge to Father Redmond Secondary School students

Drawing inspiration from the McDonald’s case study, we created a challenge for the Father Redmond students that was issued in these words:

Three brands need your expertise. Your public relations team will be assigned a company in need of a PR campaign. Your group will bid on one of the following:

A&W Canada: “At A&W, we’re on a journey to source simple, great-tasting ingredients, farmed with care.”

Wendy’s: “…we stand for honest food … higher quality, fresh, wholesome food … prepared when you order it … prepared by Wendy’s kind of people … people who believe this is My Wendy’s … we do it Dave’s Way … we don’t cut corners.”

Burger King: “The original HOME OF THE WHOPPER,® our commitment to premium ingredients, signature recipes and family-friendly dining experiences is what has defined our brand for more than 50 successful years.”

Answer the following questions:

  • Create a new burger and describe it!
  • How does it fit the restaurant’s message?
  • What makes it different from other burgers?
  • Who would want to eat this burger?
  • Why would they feel good eating your new burger?

You will prepare a 5 to 7-minute pitch presentation to a panel of senior-year students of Humber’s Bachelor of Public Relations Program. You will be evaluated on:


A clever PR strategy



Win great prizes!

We look forward to hearing your ideas.


Outcome of Battle of the Burgers

The February event was unfortunately cancelled due to low enrollment.

As a solution, we rescheduled the Boot Camp to take place on June 5, 2018. We presented to students from the Toronto Catholic District School Board who visited Humber for College Experience Day. The lesson plan was condensed and redesigned into a 45-minute interactive session that was offered to three separate groups.

In November 2018, we will resume our original plan in partnership with Father Redmond Secondary School. Leading up to the event, we will have more time to promote in advance.


TCDSB College Experience Day at Humber

The June 5 event was a tremendous success. We presented the 45-minute workshop to three separate groups of students from grades 7 to 10.

Though we will not see an immediate increase in program enrollment, the sessions were meant to offer the students a fun and playful learning experience. They understood how the field of public relations can be rewarding and collaborative, and we gave them a sample of what their career could look like. The natural talent in the room was astounding.

Most importantly, the initiative created an excellent foundation and practice run for the more extensive workshop that will take place at Father John Redmond Catholic Secondary School in fall 2018.



Welcome to DamageControl7Media

Daniel Schneider is a professor at Humber College’s School of Media Studies in the bachelor of public relations program. He teaches brands how to get their positive message into the press. Daniel loves contemporary art, sailing, longboarding and strong espresso.


DamageControl7Media started back in 2014 when I first taught social media as a partial load instructor. Every semester, I have students contribute blog posts on topics such as entertainment, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, politics, environmental sustainability and student life. We have reached audiences from North America to South America and from Europe to Australia.

Now in my second year as full-time faculty, I have completed the Teaching Excellence Program (TEP), in which I took on an academic and community project that contributes to the growth and development of our program.

It felt most appropriate to use DamageControl7Media as a central hub to showcase my initiative, in addition to some exemplary student work and other essays reflecting on my teaching experience here at Humber.

Though there are hundreds of blog posts on DamageControl7Media, this page directs us to some highlights related to my TEP training. If you would like to follow some of the student work dating back to the beginning, click here.


Academic project


As part of my TEP academic project, I was involved in student recruitment. Our Associate Dean Bob Richardson and I developed a PR Boot Camp designed to reach high school students and teach them about a fulfilling career in an exciting fast-paced industry. How did we do it? We offered them a challenge to take the title in Battle of the Burgers. And here’s how we did it.


Community initiative


As part of my TEP community project, I was involved in the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario (DSAO), and I have now become active in the national body, Able Sail Network (ASN). As an avid sailor, I have been a volunteer for disabled sailing for several years; however, now I have contributed my skills as an educator and communicator. Learn how people with a mobility impairment can leave their wheelchair behind and enjoy the freedom of sailing.


Teaching Excellence Program essay: Digital technology in the classroom


At Humber College, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has identified an opportunity to integrate digital technology into the learning experience. Does it help students to engage in the curriculum more effectively? Can professors connect with students in a new way? Learn what happened to the art of note passing and why the classroom is better without it.


Teaching Excellence Program essay: Problem-based learning


After studying problem-based learning at TEP, I was inspired to explore the topic with a particular focus on how students can acquire skills in creativity, instinct and judgement. Reflecting on my former experience in art education, I was inspired to write a blog post called: How to draw in three steps using problem-based learning. Follow these steps, and you can do it too.


 Exemplary student work

Screen Shot 2018-04-18 at 8.30.06 PM

For my class, Public Relations in the Non-Profit Sector, I asked each student to support a charity on CanadaHelps, Canada’s platform for donating and fundraising online. The series of assignments helped the students to understand how PR can support fundraising, but more importantly, how PR can truly make a difference. Learn how these students made a difference.


And to my colleagues and students…


Before I sign off for the summer, I would like to thank my colleagues and students for your amazing support. You have all made a tremendous difference on my journey.

Though I have completed my TEP training, this is only the beginning of my academic project and community initiative which will continue over the coming years. But most importantly, DamageControl7Media has become an important archive that captures student creativity and progress. Stay tune for more posts this fall 2018.


People with a mobility impairment can leave their wheelchair behind and enjoy the freedom of sailing


Daniel Schneider is a professor in the bachelor of public relations program at Humber College. He enjoys sailing, longboarding and strong espresso.

When I’m not teaching, my wife and I are avid sailors from April to November. As part of our passion for sailing, we are also involved in helping to get peoples with disabilities active in the sport.

Sailing is one in a handful of sports that enables a full integration of disabled and able-bodied people to participate on a recreational and competitive level. Disabled sailing programs across Canada offer sailing opportunities regardless of ability or age, providing self-confidence and independence on the water.

As part of my Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) community project, I was involved in the Disabled Sailing Association of Ontario (DSAO), and I have now become active in the national body, Able Sail Network (ASN).

As a part of the initiative, my not-for-profit PR class provided recommendations to DSAO for the launch of the 2017 season opener. The students provided strategies and tactics on how to reach past and current donors, prospective donors, associated organizations, politicians and local businesses. The event transpired into a very successful ribbon-cutting reception showing appreciation to those who have offered support. The sponsors delivered speeches; there were demonstrations on the use of assistive devices, followed by musical performances.


However, my favourite way to get involved in the charity is by photographing the races from the spectator boat, truly capturing the competitors in full form. Here are some of my most memorable moments in racing:

Meet Rene Dallaire in the boat named, Aladin (notice the French spelling). Rene is a high-level quadriplegic; when he was 18 years old, he was a competitive downhill skier and got injured in a training accident. Now as a sailor, he is a force to be reckoned with.  He uses the Sip ‘n’ Puff system, which provides a sensitive pneumatic control interface allowing high-quadriplegic sailors to control the boat using the simple inhale or exhale of their breath.

An able-bodied companion sailor will provide additional support and safety, but this person cannot give tactical advice.


The starting line is the most exciting time for the race photographer and the most stressful moment for the sailor. The racers are given a five-minute countdown. The objective here is to be the first over the mark. A good start sets you up for a successful race, firstly for the obvious reason, but secondly because there will be clean wind and no turbulence from the other boats. So, first is where you want to be.


Though a boat might be first off the line, the sailor must not get too excited or over-confident, because anything can happen in a race. One slow tack, getting caught is a lull or getting stuck in someone else’s wind shadow can cause a loss of boat lengths. So it gets pretty hairy up at the windward mark where the boats are clustered together. The sailors find every opportunity to nose their way in. If the sailor cuts to the mark too wide, there is plenty of opportunity for someone else to wedge in.


Downwind can make or break a great race. See number 707 in the photo below? He’s sucking away number 581’s air. Number 581 won’t be ahead for very long. I’d rather be in boat number 101 where the air is clean and it is pointed straight to the finish line. That’s where I will bet my money.


The last great place for photos is at the finish line. If a sailor hears the air horn when crossing the line, that means they got the bullet…and probably a trophy to go with it. That’s the way to run a race!


One time after a race, a sailor with a lower-level of disability yelled at Rene Dallaire for fouling him on the course. I don’t like to see such disputes amongst healthy competition, but what I did appreciate is that everyone was competing on a level playing field regardless of ability.

The lakes and oceans of Canada serve as great healers and equalizers; people with mobility impairments can leave their wheelchairs (and their disabilities) behind, and enjoy the independence and freedom that one experiences when wind, sun and spray join forces to make a perfect sailing day.

And now I turn this over to you; what brings you a sense of freedom?

How will you make a difference?


Daniel Schneider is a professor in the bachelor of public relations program at Humber College. He enjoys sailing, longboarding and strong espresso.

Guest speaker Kevin Arnsdorf, marketing director of the Toronto Sports Council, turned to the whiteboard and wrote down one question: How will you make a difference? In hindsight, it’s a question that I should have asked my students on the first day of our non-profit PR class, because it truly describes the essence of the entire course.

I designed the course so that every assignment has meaning and purpose. Therefore, I asked each student to support a charity on CanadaHelps, Canada’s platform for donating and fundraising online. With the selection of online charities to choose from, the students could support anything from mental health to food security; all they needed to do was start up a CanadaHelps page.

To be clear, the main objective wasn’t to raise funds, though some students did successfully bring in donations. The purpose was to drive online traffic and to create a community of conversation through blogging, video, online contests and any other way they could possibly support the cause.

It was an exercise in building awareness, and the online tools merely made the assignment easily accessible within the classroom environment. I wanted the students to have a portfolio piece that went live and one that they could measure its effectiveness in reaching audiences.

Without further ado, here are my top picks of students who really made a difference:

Waste not, want not: Food waste and food insecurity: While the amount of food we throw out is growing, so is the number of people who are fighting food insecurity. Leandra Greenfield created a campaign in support of Second Harvest, Canada’s largest food rescue organization that rescues and supplies surplus food and turns it into 22,000 meals for people on a daily basis. What I love about this campaign is how gracefully it captures my attention, builds my interest and then drives me to the CanadaHelps fundraiser. The appeal and call to action is subtle, yet very effective.

Three ways you can make a difference for your local women’s shelter: At any given night over 6,000 women and children in Canada sleep in a women’s shelter to escape abuse. Most shelters are equipped with both in-house and outreach services, and programs to help women dealing with abuse find their strength again. Cathryn Hurdle offers three ways that you can help to make a difference for your local women’s shelter. A great blog post is one that teaches us something in a new light; Cathryn taught me some simple ways to get involved, even from the comfort of my own home. Now there is no excuse!

The superhero myth: Why many moms don’t ask for help — and why they should: Able to conquer household chores, attend PTA meetings and work full-time jobs without breaking a sweat, the image of the modern-day mom is that of an unstoppable force capable of doing it all. Unfortunately, when it comes to the challenge of raising a family, many mothers find it difficult to ask for help. Tureisha Hamlet supported The Nanny Angel Network, an organization that helps moms to balance child-care commitments when going through cancer treatment. According to Tureisha, “It truly does take a village to raise a child, and we can each play a role in that village.” That’s what I call, making a difference!

Five reasons why you should get up and dance! You can dance in your living room, on the dancefloor or even at the grocery store. In support of the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Eloisa Jane Mariano challenged her online users to dance for 20 seconds every day for 20 days. I particularly appreciate that Eloisa collaborated with a representative from the organization to make her campaign successful. If you search online very carefully, you might even see footage of her teacher dancing; I warn you though, it’s not pretty.

How my clutter inspired me to fundraise: We could probably all use a day to declutter our lives. And here’s an interesting piece of trivia: Socks are the most needed and least donated item at shelters and charities. Raveena Maharaj supported a campaign for Just Socks, an organization that is distributing 40,000 brand-new pairs of socks to 41 charities across Toronto. Learn more about how your socks can make a difference.

I would also like to recognize the fabulous work of other students who posted their campaign on the DamageControl7Media blog site, including:

Spencer Craig in support of Big Brothers and Big Sisters Toronto

Kirtesha Moncrieffe in support of Addictions and Mental Health Ontario

Daniel Ruccella in support of SickKids

Stephanie Ahlborn in support of Al-Anon

Daisy Zamarripa in support of Sheena’s Place

Nicole Macina in support of CAMH

Maxim Naylor in support of the Jane Goodall Institute

Paya Farahmand in support of FLAP Canada

Dani Dupuis in support of the Toronto Humane Society

Brent Murphy in support of Casey House

Priya Maini in support of Progress Place Rehabilitation Centre

All of the students above have just completed their third year, and they are now in their first internship. For this course, it was important to come up with assignments that bring added challenge and build on the fundamentals that students have learned in all of their other courses. But, it was most important to assign them something real, something that is measurable and something that they can show in their next job interview. I found it most fascinating to see how these students really connected with something that is more important to them than just a grade.

To Kevin Arnsdorf, thank you for your inspirational words. In turn, I asked the students the same question in the final essay assignment. And now I turn this over to you, in 1,000 words, how will you make a difference?

What happened to the art of note passing?


Daniel Schneider is a professor in the bachelor of public relations program at Humber College. He enjoys sailing, longboarding and strong espresso. When playing Kahoot!, he goes under the alias, Sam Manella.

Note passing is a dying art. For the millennial of the digital age who might not have truly experienced the act of note passing, I will take you back to my teen-tween years as a student in the mid-1980s. During class, we would write a note on a scrap piece of paper (usually something quite unrelated to the learning outcomes of the day), fold it and pass it to a friend. If we were unfortunate enough to get caught, we were asked to share it with the entire class. “I’m so happy that Johnny and Becky are hitting it off,” the teacher said. “Now I will see you in detention.”

What happened to the art of note passing? It went digital; the scrap of paper was replaced by the iPhone, and messages are constantly passed through texting, instant messaging and even live streaming. It’s common knowledge in the teaching profession that digital technology in the classroom is an enormous distraction and challenge, because we need to jump through hoops to keep the students’ attention. For the most part, when the technology has the ability to bring communities together from all corners of the Earth in real-time, it has ironically made this generation feel disconnected.

At Humber College, the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) has identified an opportunity to integrate this digital technology into the learning experience. We could tap into a world of games, apps and interactive platforms all for the purpose of education. Furthermore, it provides a medium that students understand. CTL is doing a research study to identify how effective it is as a teaching tool. Firstly, does it help students to engage in the curriculum in an enjoyable way? And secondly, does it help them to learn anything?

As part of my Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) training, I sat in on the classes of two exemplary faculty from the bachelor of public relations program, Lydia Boyko and Anne Marie Males. I specifically observed their use of the digital platform, Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a polling tool. Basically, the professor projects a question onto the large screen, and the students must log in on their mobile device to answer them. As part of the entire package, there is upbeat game-show music, a time limit for each question, a gong when the time is up and even an element of competition. However, if you’re topping the chart one minute, you can just as easily get bumped the next. That’s showbiz kid, or better yet, that’s Kahoot! From my experience, class engagement is 100 percent every time; I’ve never seen anything like it.

Lydia used Kahoot! to engage students in a test review for her class in marketing communications. Test reviews are a challenge to make interesting at the best of times, but she managed to create informative questions that spark memory, understanding, application, analysis, evaluation and even some creation. Her quiz served every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy, which will lead to the heart of this essay.


Anne Marie used Kahoot! for a different purpose; she is a program co-ordinator always looking for ways to serve the students better. In her internal communications class, she related the exercise to team building by asking questions like, “How long is your daily commute to school? How many hours do you work a week? How did you learn about our program?” These questions are pertinent to understanding the needs of our students so that we can create a more tailored curriculum and maintain a personalized connection with them. That addresses the second point of this article, the importance of creating a community in the classroom.

Something that I have been struggling with lately is how to get students to engage in more analytical and applied knowledge. They remember information; they understand it well, but they struggle to relate prior knowledge to new learning and to real-life situations. So, if we look at Bloom’s hierarchy, the students are strong on the first two levels, but how can I encourage them to move up the ladder? How can I get them to build on the information they are taught? How can I get them to be the creators of information? One answer is digital technology, and I’ve been using it.

The students know digital technology more than most of their professors do, and I’m OK with that. It empowers them when they can teach me a thing or two; that creates a higher order of learning. Furthermore, let’s look at the skills they are developing when engaging in a game of Kahoot!; in a multiple-choice survey, for instance, they are comparing and contrasting, weighing possibilities, exercising judgement and working as a team. When there is a time limit for each question, it forces the students to think quickly and rely on instinct. But most of all, when we learn in a state of play, our guard is down; we are more relaxed and our creative channels are open to the free flow of information.

The platform is doing exactly what digital technology was meant for us to do (before we lost that personal connection); it’s bringing us together as a community. When we see our pet names (or pet’s names) posted in the top five, we not only feel a sense of accomplishment, but we are connecting with everyone else in the classroom in real-time. It is a true online and offline experience all wrapped into one; we can’t distinguish where the virtual world begins and where the physical world ends.

There is an opportunity for class discussion between each question. I might ask, “Why is A correct and B incorrect? Why did you feel that the answer is all of the above?” I’ve even told the students, “You were actually very correct answering B; it’s just that A is a better answer in this particular context.” Sometimes on Kahoot! the questions can be a little black and white, but it opens the opportunity to discuss the grey areas. Somehow during a fun activity like Kahoot!, people are open to contributing ideas.

As for the note passing, I must confess that I feel a sense of nostalgia and a longing to bring it back old-school style. We could even turn it into a game of Kahoot!-gone-hardcopy. But, I will have the students create the rules themselves; it will make for a stronger learning experience.

As for Johnny and Becky, I wish them my very best in their new relationship. And I hope those who endured many hours of detention have finally seen the error of their ways. Now, I turn this discussion over to my fellow colleagues out there, “How do you engage your students?”

How to draw in three steps using problem-based learning

Daniel Schneider is a professor at Humber College’s School of Media Studies in the bachelor of public relations program. He teaches brands how to get their positive message into the press. Daniel loves contemporary art, sailing, longboarding and strong espresso.


Letter of Intent

As part of my Teaching Excellence Program (TEP) training at Humber, I had the opportunity to observe two exemplary professors: Lydia Boyko, bachelor of public relations, and Bernie Aron, bachelor of paralegal studies.

In Lydia Boyko’s class, Writing Lab 5, we learned about the art and craft of speech writing. In Bernie Aron’s Administrative Law class, he covered conflict resolution related to a real-life court case.

After observing both classes, a burning question that came to mind is how can we effectively teach students creativity, instinct and judgement? Whether we are writing a president’s speech or resolving a dispute, these skills are key in the problem-solving process.

What I learned from Lydia and Bernie is the importance of leading through example. Students can see what solutions have been done in the past, what has been successful and what hasn’t worked, and eventually the skills naturally absorb through osmosis.

After studying problem-based learning at TEP, I was inspired to explore this topic further on how students can acquire skills in creativity, instinct and judgement. Reflecting on my former experience in art education, I will springboard into a blog post called:

How to draw in three steps using problem-based learning

If stick figures are your style, you are in good company with some famous icons such as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Yes, you too can learn how to draw.

When I studied visual arts at graduate school, we were always taught that the learning begins after we graduate; we were taught how to teach ourselves. After all, artmaking is about tapping into our own personal creativity, not that of our teacher. So, our advisors were always very careful to ask the right questions and guide us, but not tell us the correct answer.

In art, there are no answers; there are no rules, except for the ones that we create for ourselves. We can look to the past, see what has been done successfully and what has been praised in the history of art, but then we have to go on our own personal journey which could last a lifetime.

Now, I titled this post as a three-steps process; the only caveat is that it doesn’t always need to be done in this exact order. You might go to step one, jump to step three, revert back to step two, revisit step one again and so on. In any case, let’s let the creative process begin.

1. Getting started: Define the problem or goal

Amount of time required: 10 minutes to 99 years

I spent a lot of time trying to find a solution in which I hadn’t clearly defined my goal. My advisors in grad school asked me, “What are you trying to draw?” Unfortunately, the visuals were not always so apparent. I was driven to abstract art, particularly the abstract expressionists of the 1950s such as Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman and Willem de Kooning.

My faculty advisors simply helped me to ask the right questions. Have you tried looking at the work of this artist or that artist? Have you tried working larger? Have you tried drawing with both hands? They asked the questions to help me pinpoint what I was specifically trying to achieve.

Along with defining our own problem, we have the opportunity to write our own rules and set our own parameters. I might choose to stay within a certain size, format or medium. Or perhaps I might design a three-step layering process that must be performed in a specific sequence. When there are no rules in art, we need to create our own structure and order.

2. Learn from example: Identify what has worked well in the past

Amount of time required: one day to life

I constantly look at the work of other artists in textbooks, at exhibitions and believe it or not, even on Pinterest. What can we learn from the work of others? Cy Twombly taught me about the action and strength in a gestural line. Betty Goodwin taught me how to draw an anonymous figure with great simplicity. Barnett Newman taught me how sometimes all we need is one stripe to express 1,000 words.  And this is the “osmosis” part of the creative process, when ideas just sink in.

Sometimes I’ll come up with a new drawing style, and maybe it came from somewhere. Or, perhaps it came from several sources. Somehow when we look at enough examples, the solution residually filters through.

3. Experiment: Learning should be like playing in a sandbox

Amount of time required: unlimited

You wouldn’t believe the stuff I’ve tried over the past 20 years in the name of creativity. I’ve drawn with everything from oil stick and lipstick to peat moss and Earl Grey tea. Thankfully I have found my profound direction with pen and ink. The creative process requires an element of play. How can I get more action and speed into a line? How can I get the ink to spatter just so? What happens if I run an ink line through a wet patch? In the end, I’m really the only one who can decide what works successfully and what doesn’t.

This post was written as much for the teachers out there, as it is for the budding artists.

How can we teach students creativity? In the letter of intent above, I spoke of my visit to the classes of Lydia Boyko and Bernie Aron. For instance, let’s take a closer look at Lydia’s speech-writing class. How can we teach students to create a lively lead paragraph, decide on what information to include and what to leave out, or weave the words in a continuous flow? By showing us exemplary samples, including Michelle Obama’s famous speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Lydia let us experience Obama’s natural flow of words that so effortlessly rolled off her tongue. Then Lydia assigned us to write a one-minute introduction about a classmate. It was interactive, and for many students it was our first introduction.

I understand that this is not specifically problem-based learning, but for these students, this is when the learning begins.

And now the learning will continue for the students after the course is complete, and they will need to teach themselves. Eventually, they will set up their own goals, ask their own questions and develop their own solutions. Whether we are learning to draw, write a speech, cook or play music, the creative process is a long and rewarding journey.

Even Bernie’s lesson on conflict resolution is a creative process. He presents the students with two sides of a debate, some facts and parameters, and they need to develop a solution so that both parties win.

In TEP, our lesson on problem-based learning really resonated for me, because this is the foundation of how we can teach ourselves through experience. Lydia and Bernie have given their students the tools to self-learn. And when we get stumped, just ask the Oracle.

There is a great online tutorial on how to play the guitar. Apparently, it only takes three steps; I just might give it a try.

And so, I turn this over to you; what will you teach yourself?

Follow me on Twitter @damagecontrol7 and look out for my next blog post on how to manage your students on a field trip.

How Do I know if PR is for Me?

Will it blend? That is the question. In this exciting episode of Will it Blend?, Tom meets his biggest challenge as he turns the iPhone 5s and 5c into pure dust. Known as “the last blender you’ll ever own,” Blendtec is so tough that it can blend anything including mobile devices. It’s such a brilliant marketing campaign because it’s quirky, memorable, fun and has a relevant message. Every episode is consistent…Tom wears the same lab coat; he has the same cheeky grin on his face and the segment always begins with the same 70s gameshow music. I introduce this to my class every semester.

When I meet students who are considering a career in PR (or marketing for that matter), my best recommendation is to look up some of the most current campaigns. They are easy to find; if you Google “best PR campaigns 2014,” a plethora of examples will turn up keeping you amused and informed for days. Here are three of my favourite examples:

The marketing communications firm Cundari did a campaign called Nutrition Naturally. In response to the negative reputation of bread over the last decade, the firm balanced the conversation by raising awareness about its health benefits. They created an online social hub by aggregating public opinion from across Dempster’s social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Users took a nutrition quiz, shared their results with friends and explored healthy recipes. Cundari created a hidden-camera video starring comedian Gerry Dee to remind consumers about the nutritional value of whole grain bread.

Few people know about the town of Obermutten hidden away in the Swiss Alps…well, until a Facebook campaign made “a little village go global.” The idyllic settlement of a mere eighty residents was completely unknown and now sixty million people from around the world have heard of Obermutten as a result of the campaign. The local mayor promised, “Just click on like, and your profile picture will be posted on the community’s official notice board.” News reports about the village have been picked up in over twenty countries.

This discussion would be incomplete without Dollar Shave Club. I warn you that the language might be borderline colourful in this YouTube video, but then again it’s nothing that 17,463,177 viewers haven’t already seen. Dollar Shave Club delivers amazing razors and the “World’s Finest Grooming Products” right to your doorstep for just a few bucks. According to Luke Shiras, an online user who commented on the humorous video, “I just ordered some new blades but when those run out, I’ll probably give Dollar Shave Club a try. While the $1 dual blade plan is a great deal, I’ll likely spring for the $6 quad blade plan.”

Imagine being paid to be a creator of content. It’s work, but fun work; it’s rewarding and most of all, necessary. Companies need communications teams to help manage the reputation of the brand and bring products to consumers. Furthermore, we need to do it in an entertaining and educational way so that customers don’t feel like it’s being pushed on them. They can appreciate it on their own terms and their own time. And then they can share it, like it, favourite it or comment on it; the customer becomes the brand’s best ambassador.

There is never a day in PR when you will be looking at your watch waiting for 5 p.m. to come. So my question to you is how would you like to do this for a living?

Daniel Schneider teaches social digital media in the bachelor and diploma programs at Humber College’s School of Media Studies.