Where do you work? What is your role, including responsibilities and projects?
I’ve been working at Fanshawe College for a little over 20 years. I started teaching part-time in what is now called the School of Language and Liberal Studies, but for most of my time at Fanshawe, I’ve been teaching the writing and ethics courses in the Public Relations – Corporate Communications graduate certificate program. In addition to that, for the past nine years, I have been Chair of the Fanshawe College Research Ethics Board. In this role, a large part of what I do is assess proposed research projects to ensure that research with human participants is conducted ethically. Central to that role is the ability to carefully read and understand the nuances of research design, and how well researchers are communicating with their research participants. Then, as a Board we need to be able to communicate very clearly with the researcher any recommendations for changes to the research project.
How long have you been an IABC member?
I’ve been a member of IABC London for 25 years.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of being an IABC member? What resources offered by IABC have you taken advantage of?
After doing graduate studies at the University of New Brunswick, I returned to London, and one of the first things I did was join IABC as a way of connecting with others in the communications industry. Before joining Fanshawe College in 1997 I was a freelance writer and communications consultant for a number of years, and I was fortunate enough to win IABC Virtuoso Awards in a few different categories. Primarily though, IABC provided me excellent networking opportunities that led me to a number of interesting career experiences.
What area(s) of communications are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about what I teach, which are courses in writing for public relations and media relations, and PR ethics. Over the past few years, I’ve really started to enjoy learning about the non-verbal communication that goes on between individuals and in group settings. I’m also really interested in how changing communication technologies are affecting the nature of interpersonal communication. There are many books and papers that have been written about how digital media is changing the way young people in particular are communicating with one another, both digitally and face-to-face. These changes will likely have significant ramifications in the personal lives and future careers of these people as they bring these changes with them through their academic lives and into the working world. (I also think virtual reality is an underrated and not well understood new realm of corporate communication.)
Tell us about an important project or achievement from your career.
I am fortunate enough to be both a published author and journalist, and I take enormous pleasure from being able to teach students in the PR program, but I have to say my greatest personal achievement has been completing my PhD in Education at the University of Toronto in 2013.
Do you have any advice for students, future communicators or those starting out in this field?
Anyone who works in communications and public relations, at any level, will know that all projects begin with an idea, and then translating that idea into words on a page – or screen. The ability to write clearly, succinctly, and accurately is a skill that, once mastered, will always enrich and advance a person’s career and personal fulfillment. One of the best ways to develop language skills is to read voraciously and omnivorously. Much can be learned through a kind of osmosis by reading novels, textbooks, poems, short stories, blogs, whatever…
What do you like the best about your profession?
The communications discipline tends to draw interesting, positive, innovative creative types, and I am lucky enough to be able to work with them in a classroom setting. Our students come from all walks of life; we get people with Masters degrees, and people who have freelanced in the field, people who are travellers, artists, musicians, and so on. My impression is that these innovators are drawn to the field of communications and public relations because they recognize the opportunities for creative input, and for a chance to work with other, like-minded, people in team-based environments. They are usually not shy about sharing their opinion, and I learn a lot from my students – and they really enjoy my grammar jokes – at least they say they do….
If you are interested, IABC London can include a link to your Twitter and/or LinkedIn profile so that other members may connect with you on social media.
Twitter handle: @edudoc13
LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/otterosenkrantz/