Posted by: Ian Ross | February 8, 2008

United Way’s Lankin Talks PR

Frances Lankin, CEO of United Way of Greater Toronto, shared her thoughts about the value of public relations last week to some of Toronto’s PR and community leaders. Her remarks followed receiving the Canadian Public Relations Society (Toronto)‘s CEO of the Year award.

Unfortunatelty, the event wasn’t podcast or captured on video. Something we definitely need to consider next year. However, I’ve grab a few nuggets from her speech to share. Kudos to the speechwriter who helped her craft her messages.

“We’re working very hard to articulate a broad vision for communities in Toronto. It’s not “OUR” vision, a United Way vision. It’s a vision shared by many people. We just strive to articulate it the best way possible. … And so United Way works by bringing people together from across the city, and from all walks of life…from Bay and Bloor to Jane and Finch…gathered around a common purpose: To bring lasting, positive change to all parts of our city.”

I thought this was a great way of re-positioning her organization as a voice representing the masses, not just the less fortunate.

“To have community impact, we must first build consensus and understanding. That means listening. It means talking to people where they’re at, not where WE think they should be. It’s not about trying to convince, so much as helping others to understand our  common, shared challenges. It’s not about sales and tactics, so much as a genuine and shared desire to help bring change to areas of the city that need help most. It’s not about pushing an agenda, so much a desire to see great ideas put into action and helping engage people in the process.”

What a great argument for two-way communication.

“As professional communicators, you know better than anyone that spinning a good yarn has nothing to do with “serving up spin.” It has everything to do with how good and how real your story is, and how you tell it.”

I just thought this was a great line.


Here is our CPRS CEO award founder Gordon McIvor, APR, with Frances and the Stanley Cup of PR.

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