Three Laws Governing Our Work As PR Professionals Legal Responsibilities for PR Writing?



What Are the Legal Responsibilities for PR Writing?

So now we are at the ninth and final blog assignment for the semester…I can’t help but wonder where it went. Having such an extensive background in publishing, this topic should be second nature to me, but a refresher is always important for the complete learning experience. What three laws govern out work as PR Professionals?

  1. Defamation: Is a publication of a statement that could harm another person, company, group or brand’s reputation, (or any other legal entity), discredit them, or expose them to hatred, contempt or ridicule as a result of what you have said about them. There are two types of defamation that can occur: Slander and Libel. Slander is anything spoken in a public manner or setting that damages character or reputation of a person, brand or company. Whereas, Libel is anything written or broadcast, including words and/or images, portraying the party in a negative fashion that will harm their reputation
  1. Privacy: Invasion of privacy includes: appropriation, or commercial use of a name or photograph without obtaining consent, private information about an individual, be it their lifestyle, health or anything they wish to refrain from communicating as public knowledge, and intrusion, such as spying on someone. This piece is often used by gossip sources and often published with harmful intent to discredit celebrities or public figures by painting them in a bad light, so to speak. Being a celebrity or public figure, it is expected to have a reduced amount of privacy, however, they still have rights.
  1. Copyright/Plagiarism: Using copyrighted material and presenting as your own, instead of giving the creator of the original work credit for it. Types of copyright infringement and plagiarism include cover creations like books, films, songs, articles and essays, dissertations, photographs or anything else that’s original. There are some exceptions to using these works, under the guidelines that you can only use a portion of copyrighted material, that it isn’t taken out of context, that you credit the source you borrowed it from, academic research, and that you don’t exceed a certain percentage of it (eBooks, for example, no more than 20% for promotional purposes benefiting the author only.) Use of this material may not affect the market the original material was produced for in a negative way.


Having and maintaining strong, personal and professional ethics is integral in PR writing. From a sales perspective to using persuasion vs. manipulation to sell a product or a brand to the people under false pretenses, or publishing materials that are misleading or harmful in nature. Without integrity, we are nothing but scam artists in the face of public relations. I found an interesting article on Ethics and Legal Practices in PR.

One of my keywords in my own personal branding is integrity, and I will stand by this value in all of my public relations pursuits.

~Stay true to yourself, stay true to your brand.~

                                                                         Karen Minnis



How Would You Handle A Crisis? Three Tips For Crisis Communication


How Do You Handle a Public Crisis?

This week, we are reviewing case studies and crisis communication in public relation disasters. There are so many critical steps to responding to a PR crisis, it’s difficult to narrow down to just three. However, the question was posed to us: what three tips would you offer in crisis communication?

  1. Be prepared and have a plan for before, during and after the crisis. Know the issue, gather all the available facts, tangible research and learn the entire event inside and out before formulating a public response. Some cases may be of such an urgent nature, and time sensitive, you may not have the freedom to be as thorough as this step would require. Choose the right spokesperson. The Chief Executive or some other senior management figure who is competent and informed needs to have strong visibility and field questions. That appointed person needs to become the face of the brand throughout the crisis communication process. Use the brand’s mission, vision and values to guide your plan and response, ensuring it adheres to the brand’s core values. The communication plan needs to go beyond the initial stages of the crisis. Before and during are critical times in the face of public disaster. However, debriefing afterward and reviewing things that could or should have been done differently needs to be addressed in a formal plan as well, and communicated to the public. In some cases, it may guide reshaping of certain policies or practices of the brand to assure no reoccurrence of the tragedy takes place.


  1. Be honest, but never speculate. Provide factual updates consistently. Do social listening on all social media outlets, respond to the public’s need for information in a thoughtful, factual manner that will ease any fear, anger or apprehension they may have. If you are lacking in details, admit it, but follow with providing assurance that you are working diligently to get a clear understanding of the crisis and all factors. You need to let them know in absence of information that you WILL find the answers and communicate them as soon as you do. Ethical business practices and transparency is paramount to earn back the trust of consumers, stakeholders and the general public in the face of disaster.


  1. Be accountable, take responsibility if it’s yours to take. In certain circumstances, the company lawyers would advise abstaining from this. However, in situations where accountability is irrefutable, shoulder the blame if that’s where it belongs.The brand and its appointed communicator need to demonstrate empathy and compassion in the face of tragedy. Issue an apology where needed. People’s inherent nature in the face of tragedy is to direct blame and try to make sense of what happened. There will be outrage, fear, and turmoil, especially in light of events that could have been prevented. Demonstrate compassion for those impacted by the event and wherever possible, work to make amends or compensate where needed.


My case study assignment this week gave me a powerful insight into how PR Crisis Communication can be done well. The case I chose, was the Maple Leaf Foods Listeriosis Crisis. (You can read more about the case here from the plaintiffs’ counsel in the class-action lawsuit.) Swift, thoughtful, informed and strategic response.  There are so many factors in handling public relations matters in a time of crisis. Having as much information and a clear plan to communicate, address and rectify the situation as quickly as possible is ideal. It may not always be feasible, but it does give the brand a chance to win back the confidence of the public when handled correctly.


That’s all for now, folks!

Karen Minnis


Annual Reports

Annual Reports

Which Type Do You Prefer?


Today we reviewed Annual Reports for various corporations and discussed the different formats they can be provided in. We discussed the benefits and detriments of each.The legal requirements for every corporation is to provide a full annual report. Typical reports provide a thorough review of corporate aspects such as auditors reports, directors reports, financial statements, accounting policies, mission, vision and values statements, trends, employee hiring, retention, corporate governance, and so on. If you are (or were to be) a corporation, which format would work best for you?

  • Hard Copy: The benefits of the hard copy are a direct distribution to identified stakeholders. This provides a personal outreach to those invested in different aspects of the company. It also provides direct access, anytime they want to the document in their possession, whether they need to refer to a section, or otherwise. The downside of hard copies can be an extensive report that will prove overwhelming for some to read. It also uses a substantial amount of paper and ink, creating an environmental impact and additional cost to the company.
  • Digital copies: Digital reports can be highly effective, in terms of the level of creativity, graphics, and physical layout. Because of this format, it reduces costs associated with printing and the environmental impact hard copies create. It also allows for mass distribution, reaching a far larger audience than the typical stakeholders. The downside to digital could be impatience with readers that don’t want to navigate through the digital version, perhaps missing critical information that would otherwise be at their disposal anytime. The digital format also limits people who may not readily have access to the internet in order to obtain it. The mass distribution further removes the personal aspect of the director to stakeholders.
  • Video copies: This innovative way of relaying annual reports lends a highly interactive experience for stakeholders interested in reading the annual statistics and updates for the company. This version also allows for embedded video clips, perhaps of the CEO, Director or other authority figure representing the company, giving a more personalized message. It gives a “face” to the technological age that may appeal to some. The downside, again would be in terms of people with limited technological access to computers and the internet.

Overall, each format of annual report has its pros and cons. For this tech-savvy gal who doesn’t have a great deal of shelving space for long documents, I prefer digital or video that I can access at will. Something for me to consider in my future business ventures!

Here is an example of an Annual report for Loyalist College in pdf!

Happy reading!

Karen Minnis

Grabbing Their Attention

Three Elements of a Powerful Speech


In my previous life of child welfare, I was fortunate enough to have become a certified trainer and worked for recruitment and retention committees for foster/adoptive parents, staff, and volunteers. I’ve done a substantial number of speeches and presentations over the years. I think, near the end of my former career, the most difficult speech of all I had to deliver, was the tribute to my beautiful friend, confidante, and colleague we tragically lost in a horrific car accident. If you were to ask what types of speeches I’m comfortable with writing and delivering and can do with confidence, I would say, most of them, except for just that one. I enjoy infusing humour, participation and often storytelling elements to captivate my audience.

So, the topic of this blog assignment, is what are three elements of a powerful speech? Depending on the topic, audience, and purpose, in my own personal experience, I would surmise as follows:

  • Connecting with the audience
  • Content / message
  • Effective delivery

To elaborate further: connecting with the audience, for me, has to do with interaction, engagement and sparking their curiosity or interest with the topic at hand. Content or message has to be meaningful, impactful and something that resonates with them long after your three-to-five minutes of presenting has finished. Effective delivery has everything to do with tone, cadence, projection and the level of enthusiasm you infuse into your delivery. Your body language has to denote confidence, knowledge, and comfort in the spotlight. Perhaps that’s why I’m not a scientific, mathematic or some other technical industry person. It would profoundly limit my entertaining and storytelling speech style.

That’s all for today. Since I uploaded this on election night, and the fate of the USA is at hand, I felt compelled to leave you with an uplifting speech from the Independence Day movie! Now, I’m off to write my speech for next week’s executive bio presentation!


Karen Minnis

Personal Branding

Defining My Professesional Purpose


This week, we took a deeper look at personal and professional branding and were assigned the mind-blowing task of defining our professional mission, vision and values. The assignment seems simple enough, doesn’t it? To make it meaningful, impactful and succinct is an entirely different experience, one that I readily admit, takes longer than this writer expected. Why? Because narrowing down 3-5 meaningful words to define my professional aspirations is near-impossible. My personal brand, and my aspiring business brand, I truly believe are one-in-the-same.

Just when I thought I had them nailed down, I went to sleep and dreamt about my chosen words, with the intention of arriving to campus early this morning and uploading this week’s blog assignment. Upon waking, it became clear to me, I wasn’t finished after all. Enterprising was the one  value I initially felt strongest about. This morning, I awoke with another one flashing in my brain that has been so engrained in every fiber of my being, I completely overlooked it: inspirational. At this point, I’ve come to accept that I can type out my statements with a semblance of belief that it perfectly captures my professional ambitions. Perhaps down the road, it may alter, depending on what course life takes me through.

After much deliberation, I have created my personal/professional branding statements:

  • Values: The values that drive me are: inspiration, integrity, creativity, enterprise and innovation.

  • Mission: To utilize storytelling through books and film as a vessel to inspire, educate and entertain people.

  • Vision: To evoke emotion, educate and heal society as a whole, through the use of cutting-edge entertainment.

 As far as my professional branding statements, I’ve implementing them, although undefined until now, through my published works for years. If you feel inspired to explore, take a look at my books to see what moves you!

Kali Willows’ Books

~Stay true to yourself, stay true to your brand.~

Karen Minnis

Join The Loyalist PR Team for “SMASH & DASH”

Do You Like To Cut Loose? Or Do You Like To Help Make A Difference In The Lives Of Others?

What if I told you we are hosting an exciting event that will let you do both at the same time? That’s right! The Loyalist College Post-Grad PR Program will be hosting a positively ‘smashing’ event to conquer hunger, poverty and homelessness.

Every year, our program hosts a United Way Fundraising event, and we’ve been going strong for 12 years. This year, we’re proud to bring you the newest and most IMPACTFUL event to date!

Join us in the Shark Tank Pub, dining hall and outside for games, tons of prizes and much more. With your help, the United Way can SMASH poverty.

 Welcome to the SMASH & DASH Event!

WHEN: Thursday, November 10th

TIME: 7:30 am – 1:00 pm

WHERE: Shark Tank Pub, Dining Hall and outside

This event features the first ever AUTO SMASH at Loyalist College!

Pre-register for auto smash at loyalistpr@loyalistc.on.ca

To join the fun, follow our event page for updates and a countdown to making a difference in smashing poverty! https://www.facebook.com/events/1791427401133219/


*All proceeds go to the United Way.*

“Man Sells His House to Save His Dog”

What Is News?


What is news? I bet the title grabbed your attention, didn’t it? Of course it did. It’s gripping, unusual and makes the reader eager to know more. News is a broadcast or report of current events or important happenings that appeals to the interest of individuals and groups. This title, for example, is a human interest topic, because such a large portion of society loves their fur babies, just as much as parents love their children. It has an emotional draw that elicits sympathy for many. Selling a house to save his dog, is dramatic and extreme, but it also appeals to a vast array of audience for different reasons.

Some would find it newsworthy, because it might seem bizarre to them, to give up their home for a dog. For others, it would draw them in, because their own relationship and love of animals might just elicit a similar, desperate response. The title alone would draw the audience in, eager to know what prompted the need to sell the house? Why was the dog’s life in danger? Was he sick or injured? Did someone hurt him? We can define what news is, in approximately eight categories: Immediacy, Proximity, Prominence, Oddity, Conflict, Suspense, Emotions, and Consequence.

News is typically delivered in a story-telling manner that appeals to, and draws in the audience interest for one, or a combination of the aforementioned elements. It is presented in print, newspaper, television, radio, websites and other forms of social media. It is essentially delivered by any channel of relaying information to the masses. Some events for the audience is similar to the impact of passing a horrific car accident. Rubberneckers can’t help but turn around and stare at the collateral damage. It doesn’t please or appeal to them, however, it’s too terrible to ignore, and we are hardwired with a morbid curiosity that is difficult to detach from.

On that pleasant note, I’m off to watch the 12:00 news on CP24 to get informed on what travesties or, hopefully, what happy human interest stories are being broadcast today.

~Stay true to yourself, stay true to your brand.~

Karen Minnis




In the wee hours of Thursday, October 5, 2016, my LoyalistPR class ventured to Toronto for a few fantastic learning opportunities, for what was affectionately named #BaconRun16. (Perfectly titled, given the 6:30 am departure!) Our first stop was the Royal Ontario Museum, where our class met with ROM representatives that were interested in hearing some fresh ideas to showcase and increase interest in their FNL (Friday Night Live events.) Every Friday night, from 7:00 pm until 11:00 pm, they provide a unique, cultural experience for the younger crowd of art and history enthusiasts. We heard from their team about the PR needs, and their current efforts, which I have to admit, were already pretty impressive. They listened to representatives from our various teams pitch new ideas, and were wonderfully receptive and forthcoming about the suggestions that meshed well with their agendas. 

As the Toronto rush hour traffic proved a worthy adversary, we ended up short on time which unfortunately took away from our guided tour, however we were left to our own devices to take a quick look around the ROM exhibits. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit, being born and raised in Toronto, I had never actually attended the venue before, so it was an exciting chance for me to take in the sights. I particularly loved the Chinese artifacts exhibit and the Bat Cave. A quick lunch and a literal race over to the next meeting left us anxious to continue our day.

Our last stop was at the prestigious FleishmanHillard Canada. The Toronto division of a global collective dedicated to companies, brands and organizations that deliver messages to the right audiences. Their prime directive is to facilitate optimal means for their clients to establish and maintain positive views of their brands and messages while keeping up with today’s fast-paced technology. It wasn’t until their team delivered a highly informative presentation, that I became aware of the layers of public relations they provide globally for their clients. They not only help deliver positive messages and create brand names, but utilize exceptionally skilled employees to research social media analytics and define business insights to alter and change perceptions and outcomes for their brands. The various staff highlighted the level of crisis-response strategies the counsel preparation for, and identified cultural and social implications that impact message delivery. I was exceptionally impressed with the vast skill sets in the room, as well as their devotion to providing sound advice to our group as to how to prepare for potential internships and present as the most desirable professionals we could possibly be. It was a fantastic day, which also brought our group closer together, by way of travel time and getting better acquainted outside of the classroom.

Awesome trip with an awesome group!


Karen Minnis

First Lessons in PR So Much Knowledge in Such a Short Span of Time

First Lessons in PR


In my first blog post for my Loyalist PR class, I was assigned the task of highlighting what I’ve learned so far. I can sum it up nicely in a single thought: “I have so much more to learn than I realized.” Despite extensive experience in writing romance, fantasy and most things fiction, I had a previous life of factual writing, presentations and more in my child welfare career of 27 years. I have done power points, info sessions, provided training, program development, implementation, branding and utilized an entire PR-based skill set, but had not received any formal education in doing so.

In my author side of life, I’ve had a crash course in self-promotion, some basic marketing tactics, and tools, and learned as I go with the guidance and support of fellow authors, editors and more. Having secured a positive work relationship with my current publisher, including almost 20 published book titles, it never occurred to me, how spoiled I had become, relying on my editors for content, grammar, and punctuation for a polished presentation. Every published work goes through no less than four grueling rounds of edits, with three different levels of editors: content, senior and line editors, and all cover work are completed by contracted cover artists. Welcome to my crash course of: “What you thought you knew and really don’t.”

At first, my decision to return to a post-grad program for public relations excited me, then, terror set in, later; doubt, then back to excitement, mixed in with a little fear. I’m looking forward to the next 10 academic months and eager to learn and develop new skills that will set me on the course for optimal success in public relations!

As I set aside my prolific writing, feel free to take some time to read, if you’re so inclined. Kali Willows


Happy reading!

Karen Minnis