“I remember the first time I met you,” says Reece Mack, PR coordinator at Jelly Marketing to his colleague, account manager Hudson Lee.
“You were late for class,” he adds, teasingly.
The two young professionals met on their first day in UFV Continuing Education’s Public Relations program in October 2016. Since then, they’ve become fast friends. And now, both of them have joined a team of digital experts at Jelly Marketing, a public relations firm in the heart of historic Fort Langley.
Finding the right career path
A former child actor turned makeup artist, Reece came to Canada from London, England, and ended up plying his trade on a film set in Vancouver. “I met my wife, got married, and we soon had a daughter on the way,” he says.
The hours on set were too long and Vancouver housing prices too high for the young family. So they moved to the Fraser Valley, where Reece enrolled with UFV Continuing Education.
“I had owned a business so I half knew what I was doing,” Reece says. “But the Public Relations program helped me identify my transferable skills and level them up. And the program was part time, so I could continue to work.”
For her part, Hudson was studying Media and Communications at UFV. “I wasn’t sure of my direction,” she says. “But when I heard about public relations, I knew it was perfect for me because I am a people person. PR is all about building relationships.”
Public relations skills for the win
Even while studying, Hudson and Reece were able to leverage their new PR skills. “I became the social media manager for the tanning studio where I worked at the time,” Hudson recalls.
As part of the program, she also completed a practicum through Camilla, one of her instructors. “I worked for SARA for Women, a transition house in Mission,” Hudson says. “It was a great opportunity to work with Camilla. She’s amazing.”
As for Reece, he completed a stint with Concepts Group building their corporate digital marketing strategy as well as a training program for their franchisees. “It was perfect on-the-job training,” Reece says. “I was exposed to many business facets, while discovering the importance of work/life balance.”
The classroom comes alive
Hudson and Reece credit some of their Public Relations instructors — Camilla Coates, Ashton Howley, and Patrick Cotter — for nurturing their creativity and providing them with practical skills. “They brought real-life expertise to the classroom,” Reece says. “Patrick even made a dry topic like copywriting law interesting
by using stories to illustrate his point.”
And when Reece wanted to turn a blogging assignment into a 20-second commercial, Ashton supported the idea. “He gave us creative freedom to speak about things that matter to us and match our career interests,” Reece says.
Ashton’s public speaking class was Hudson’s personal highlight. “We were filmed while speaking,” Hudson says. “I had never been put on the spot like that. But now I can speak up, be confident, and get my point across while under pressure.”
Taking on the world of public relations
When Jelly Marketing posted for an account manager in summer 2017, Hudson had the right mix of PR training and customer service savvy to take up the challenge. A few months later, when the firm needed a PR coordinator, Hudson immediately contacted Reece. He landed the job and the pair are now working side by side.
“UFV does a great job of fostering workplace-ready students and not egos,” says Darian Kovacs, director of strategy at Jelly Marketing. “With UFV’s smaller class sizes, students have access to their profs on a personal level. The fruits of this look like Reece and Hudson — two people with employable skills, who also have a great deal of emotional intelligence.”
“UFV’s Public Relations program set us up for success in the professional world,” says Hudson, who’s enjoying using her organizational and people skills in her role as account manager.
As for Reece, the creative side of PR is what excites him most. “UFV has given me a whole new lease on life,” says the former make-up artist, who is now pursuing a Master of Arts in Advertising Strategy and Planning at Falmouth University, and writing his thesis on neural networks and ways to influence consumers’ thought processes.
Start in September 2018: registration for Public Relations courses start July 3, 2018