Claudia Ferris is one of those rare individuals who can explain something as well as she can do it. Ferris, a former news reporter at BCTV before it became Global Television, hosted a public relations information session at the Gibsons Chamber of Commerce Spark event on Thursday, Oct. 29.
Although the attendance was sparse, those who heard Ferris speak came away with a considerable amount of information. For the Gibsons volunteer fire department, there was information on how to attract more volunteers. For others in the audience, Ferris gave advice on how to maximize both communication capacity as well as employee buy-in to public relations.
A key element of the presentation was the SWOT analysis an exercise that helps a company or organization focus on its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
An element she emphasized was courtesy. She advised those in charge to make sure the message was going to the community as a single voice rather than several people from the same group giving mixed messages. Ferris told the audience it's important to monitor threats and to create a unified vision of what the entity is and where it's going. And, she said, never underestimate public cynicism.
For those tasked with speaking to the public, Ferris urged them to answer questions effectively by staying on message. And don't be afraid to challenge incorrect statements or tell a story complete with anecdotes. Use analogies and be sincere and passionate. Above all, she specified, be timely, be polite and be accurate.
Ferris' presentation was taped. To check for viewing, call the Gibsons and District Chamber of Commerce at 604-886-2325. Hers is a message everyone in business or the non-profit sector should see and hear.