By Diane Bégin

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How to get the internship

For many college and university students, the search for an internship can cause sleepless nights and worry-filled days. Our four interns can attest to these feelings because only a few short months ago those were the shoes they occupied. Fast forward a few months and all four are busy working in the world of PR. So we thought who better to ask for some advice on how to get the internship than our interns. Here’s what they had to say:



Kristia Pavlakos, intern coordinator for 6 months

“My best piece of advice is to not be afraid to take chances and get out of your comfort zone. If you want to grow and thrive in this industry, you need to network! One month before I got the internship (almost to the day, actually), I went to a networking event hosted by a Toronto-based magazine, The Kit. Everyone was so accomplished (and fashionable!) and I was absolutely terrified to start a conversation, but I set a goal to introduce myself to at least five people by the end of the day. I ended up speaking with The Kit’s marketing director, Evie and met with her a week later to discuss breaking into the industry. Forcing myself to get out there and talk to people really helped me with the interview process at APEX (and it was a bonus that APEX works with The Kit all the time!). It also helped me after I started working – PR is all about building relationships – with your coworkers, your clients and the media, among others – and learning how to start a conversation, how to ask questions and how to thrive in new (and sometimes intimidating) settings is a very important part of building any career.”


Kristina Mikhalkova, intern coordinator for 3 months


“Research! I can’t stress this enough. Research is the most important first step of getting your

internship. It’s important because during this process you’ll start to identify which organizations you really want to go through with the application process for and which you don’t. After you’ve done your research think about you, who you are and whether or not you will fit into the organizations based on the research you’ve completed. You have to find the internships that best suits you. Because after all, even though it’s a trial period in the workforce, you don’t to be going to work and waiting for the weekend. You want to love your internship.”


Kevin Behar, intern coordinator for 3 months


“Perseverance and networking. We all go through tough times where we are applying for internships and jobs and we are not getting responses. Keep pushing through that because eventually, you will begin to get those call backs, which is an awesome feeling. All that hard work will pay off. Networking opens doors for you. You could end up working for someone you met, or they can connect you with another internship opportunity. These connections can also give you a real sense of what it is like to work in that particular field because it’s important that you find something you like.”


Alison Chiu, intern coordinator for 2 months


“The first step is definitely to do your research! While looking for an internship, you want to make sure the organization or company you’re applying to is one that you feel would be the right fit and that you’re passionate about joining the team. Look into what the company cares about and what they’re involved in, as well as the responsibilities of the intern role. It’s a good idea to also research the people who will be interviewing you; you might have similar interests or have a better idea of what you want to share during your meeting. Along with lots of research, I found it was helpful to prepare myself for what information I wanted to share with my interviewers. Don’t have a whole script prepared, but think about your key points and stick to that. Otherwise, it’ll sound too scripted and disingenuous. When you think about your key points, think about ways you can stand out with your personality and experience with what they’re looking for. Making connections and being open to learning and new ideas is also really important, you never know who you might meet, and what you can do, unless you try it.”

APEX PR/ruckus Digital amp-up its integrated marketing strategy

Toronto, October 26, 2017 – Following another strong year of multi-channel programming for its diverse set of clients, APEX PR and ruckus Digital today announced the promotion of four key senior practitioners into integrated communications roles for consumer, corporate B2B and design.

Jennifer Stein, a 10-year veteran of APEX PR and one of the forces behind Walmart’s soon to be released branded content web series, Upstairs Amy, becomes the senior vice president of integrated consumer marketing. Anne Locke, a brand strategist with more than a decade of experience, becomes vice president of integrated communications on the consumer team. And Rohini Mukherji, who exemplifies client business acumen in her approach to client relationships, has been named vice president integrated communications on corporate B2B. Also effective immediately, ruckus Digital Director, Gary Edgar, brings his creative acumen to the new role of vice president creative and design services.

“As a full service PR and digital agency, counselling clients in consumer brand marketing, corporate and B2B communications and reputation management, we have experienced significant growth bringing comprehensive integrated communications strategies to our clients across media, influencers, social, stakeholders and internal channels. It’s been the deep strategic acumen of our senior team that has fueled this innovative programming and growth, resulting in their well-earned promotions,” said Linda Andross, co-managing partner, APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital.

In the last two years alone, approximately 85 per cent of the agency’s long standing and new clients have amplified sophisticated brand strategies across multiple channels and with diverse target audiences and influencers. The impact of such comprehensive and coherent programming has been a marked boost in meeting and exceeding qualitative and quantitative client objectives.

“In the interest of our clients’ business and marketing goals, it’s been incumbent on the team, especially our whip-smart senior team, to diversify programming across the right channels and particularly across relevant audiences,” said Kenneth Evans, co-managing partner, APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital. “The bonus for us as practitioners is that it results in far more dynamic and rewarding work, and makes for much deeper client collaborations.”

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Should fake news be archived to be preserved for the future?

That question was tossed around at an October 16 event, hosted by the National Archives in the stunning new Globe and Mail Centre, called Unfiltered: the Fate of Facts in the Digital Age. (Also check out what Globe staff have said about the Centre’s views.)

The discussion was moderated by Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada and included

With respect to preserving fake news for the future, Beasley offered a compelling metaphor from silent film. Apparently 9 out of 10 movies from the silent film era (from 1895 to 1936) were not preserved because the content was considered ephemeral.

Is that the case however for fake news?

While panelists agreed it has always existed (just that US politics have placed much more emphasis on it as of late), they had varying opinions on what to do with fake news, and many questions didn’t have any easy answers.

Should social media platforms accept a larger responsibility in stopping fake news?

While Twitter founder Jack Dorsey continues to assert that it’s better to know what’s on the mind of say the leader the most powerful country in the free world, libraries such as Cornell University have taken on the responsibility to provide resources to the public (like this fake news infographic) to make it easier to spot it.

Do current mainstream media outlets have a role to play in qualifying what is fake and what isn’t?

At least one audience member brought up biases if mainstream media outlets became the authority in determining what is fake and what isn’t.

While tools like the Globe and Mail fake news quiz better equips consumers of media, other much larger scale initiatives such as The Trust Project (watch for a launch scheduled for next month) is a collective initiative involving mainstream media that could be criticized for its biases. It also includes digital and social media representation from Twitter, Facebook and Google.

What role does fiction play as fake news in political discourse? (e.g. parody, political cartoons)

An interesting question to which again the metaphor of film was applied by Beasley. There was a time when audience members in theatres would clear out when a train was racing towards them.

Because the medium was new, they didn’t understand that they weren’t in imminent danger. The point being, it takes time to understand the effects of anything.

Ditto with mainstream attention on fake news.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts here or on Twitter. Diane Bégin is VP, Social Marketing and Brand Communications at APEX PR and ruckus Digital.

What’s the story with Upstairs Amy?


From the producers of global phenomenon Carmilla, Upstairs Amy is a scripted comedy that will also feature real-life digital influencers curated by APEX Public Relations.

The grass is always greener on the other side – or, in Amy Zhang’s case, on another floor.


Upstairs Amy follows the lives of three millennial moms on a journey through friendship, motherhood and self-discovery. When Amy’s apartment floods, she, her husband Dean, and their toddler are forced to move upstairs while the damages are repaired. There, Amy meets her captivating new neighbour Kaavya, the “it-girl” from the 26th floor. When a white lie turns into a new life, Amy and her best friend Veronica find themselves surrounded by Kaavya’s world of beauty, glamour, mystery and men – and so begins Amy’s transformation from average accountant into social media superstar “Upstairs Amy.”


ruckus Digital knows brands need storytelling and relatable characters that resonate with their target audiences. Before, commercials were the standard way of serving content to consumers. Now, consumers are in control – they decide when and how to interact with brands. This is why we are so excited to be working with Kin Community and their talented group of influencers, whose participation in-show will extend to their own channels and beyond. The influencers will be posting weekly content on their own channels relating to each week’s episode. ruckus Digital will lead the development on media buying and social content for the series.

The series is scheduled to launch
in November 2017 on a dedicated Upstairs Amy YouTube channel.

Drive engagement through Millennials ‘early onset nostalgia’

With fierce competition from other leading online and bricks and mortar retailers, the holiday shopping season is the most difficult time of the year to capture a customer’s attention. Walmart Canada needed a creative approach to break through the noise and entice Canadian shoppers to choose Walmart for their Black Friday (in-store and online), Cyber Monday (online) and Boxing Week (in-store and online) shopping.

According to Digiday, experts say that factors such as the coming of age during economic turmoil has meant millennials end up romanticizing simpler times – even times they weren’t around for – which the industry has diagnosed as millennials’ ‘early onset nostalgia.’ (As seen in Throwback Thursdays or Wayback Wednesdays online conversations.)

Building on this ‘early onset nostalgia,’ an IABC Silver Leaf award-winning illustration and animation series was developed with a nostalgic twist to get millennials ‘ready for their big shopping day’ through retro-styled workout stretches.

Industry best practices indicate short videos improve audience engagement. A more recent move has been to look at platform-specific variations to improve impressions. According to Mobile Marketer, consumers spend 98 per cent of their time using their phone in portrait mode. Square videos also perform better on certain platforms.

A 10-second square video animation series was created for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, while vertical videos were pushed through Snapchat. YouTube videos were also added to the mix. The videos included exercises in retro gear with workouts such as squats (i.e. to lift your big-ticket in-store purchase) and finger stretches (i.e. to tap for your online purchases).

Since Black Friday and Boxing Day offered in-store shopping experiences, five in-family day-parted Snapchat geofilters were designed for each day for individuals to share their Walmart-inspired shopping experiences through a selfie.

The video campaign targeted millennial Twitter followers, Snapchat users, Instagram fans, Facebook fans and YouTube users.

The campaign allowed Walmart Canada to maintain its leadership position during these peak shopping days during the holiday season. The geofilters also ranked within the top worldwide on the platform – the only Canadian brand to do that in Q4 (even beating out the 2 US presidential candidates’ geofilters per capita).

Need help targeting Millennials through your social content? Drop us a line.



APEX Public Relations/ruckus Digital joins BCMA

TORONTO, ON – October 2 2017

APEX Public Relations/ruckus Digital announces that it has joined the Branded Content Marketing Association (BCMA), the global regulating body for marketing professionals producing branded content.

Becoming part of the BCMA will provide APEX/ruckus with the latest industry insights. APEX/ruckus will also have access to the BCMA’s new Content Monitor system, a vital tool that provides PR and social agencies with knowledge to help them remain at the forefront of the industry, including data on how to optimize a program’s ROI.

“Our membership solidifies our passion for producing engaging content for audiences across a variety of platforms.  The BCMA has an outstanding reputation within the branded content industry and we are delighted to join them as a member,” notes Jennifer Stein, vice president, integrated communications at APEX.

APEX/ruckus digital is an award-winning, full-service agency, tackling a variety of topics from social and issues management to fashion and lifestyle. An industry-leader for almost two decades, with an impressive roster of corporate and consumer clients like Walmart, Planet Fitness, New Balance, Levi’s and RSA.

Read “Branded content group touches down in Canada” in Media in Canada (September 12, 2017).

How to add a fresh twist to your social media content

Have any of your married friends or those in committed relationships ever asked to play with someone else’s dating apps (just because they were curious)?

According to a Google Consumer Survey ruckus Digital commissioned in spring 2017, about a quarter of Canadian millennials know someone who has. This insight gave us the perfect opportunity to get fresh (groceries, that is) with our Walmart millennial audience.

Dinnder was a 10 to 15-second social media video ad series (throughout spring/summer 2017 long weekends, including Victoria Day, Canada Day and the Civic Holiday), created to improve Walmart’s quality perception and spread awareness about its new 100% Canadian AAA Angus Beef.  Delicious cuts of beef were paired with attractive sides made with Walmart’s fresh produce.

How: By drawing a connection between a dating app and the brand, we piqued consumer interest in a brand new way – cutting through the long weekend clutter in both English and French Canada – as people were stocking up for their long weekend get-togethers.

The vertical video series (to align with the vertical orientation for swiping on popular dating apps) ran on Facebook and Snapchat. The series was among the top pieces of social content for Walmart in summer 2017.

As marketers, we constantly have to rethink how we reach consumers/audiences and stand out in the crowd. Take a look at our Dinnder videos and let us know what you think!

Need help with your paid social media strategy and targeting? Drop us a line.

Linda Andross secures IABC Canada’s highest honour: Master Communicator

On September 28, 2017, the International Association of Business Communicators Canada Regions (IABC Canada) named its 2017 recipients of the prestigious Master Communicator (MC) designation (one per region in each east and west).

The IABC Master Communicator designation is the Association’s highest honour in the country, and this year’s recipient in eastern Canada was APEX Public Relations / ruckus Digital managing partner Linda Andross, ABC.

“With 25+ years’ experience in public relations and fifteen of them at APEX, Linda’s role as Co-Managing Partner includes her being actively involved in each side of the business of APEX and ruckus – bringing her experience from the world of communications to the widely changing business of digital, social, content + kitchen sink. She oversees the effectiveness of APEX/ruckus’ many capabilities, enhancing client service and bolstering innovation to provide added value to their numerous blue-chip clients.”

Laurie Dawkins, ABC of Vancouver was the western Canadian recipient.

“Both Linda and Laurie are accomplished communication professionals who have made significant contributions to our profession in numerous ways throughout their careers,” said 2017 Master Communicator Selection Committee chair, Anna Willey, ABC, MC, IABC Fellow. “We are proud to honour them with this IABC Canada lifetime credential.”

The selection for both recipients was made by Master Communicators from across Canada.

More information on the awards program is available on the IABC Canada website

Walmart Canada brings you into the dorm with Facebook 360 photography

Excitement for virtual reality continues to explode and with Facebook 360 photos. Users can expand the canvas of their images to new dimensions. Facebook 360 provides the ability to create 3D, panoramic-like views of your environment, similar to how people experience 360 videos.

This feature was launched last year, and has continued to be very popular with brands – over 70 million 360 photos have been shared on Facebook. In addition, people gaze 5x longer at video than at static content on Facebook and Instagram, so it is safe to assume the use of 360 photos will also establish a longer gaze and demand more attention than a fixed image.


Students spend hours daily on digital channels and view advertising differently than their parents. They want to be in control of advertising and appreciate short and quick messages. With this in mind, Walmart looked to provide an inspirational digital execution to help students visualize a decked out dorm room with Walmart’s full assortment of home, technology and apparel products.


Using Facebook 360 posts, Walmart’s 2017 Back to Campus campaign allowed viewers to immerse themselves in four different dorm rooms. Instead of being a flat image, the 360 photos are much more inviting – drawing viewers into the scene and allowing them to feel the experience of being in a dorm and making sure their favourite desk will fit!

The posts were published as Facebook Collections (also a first time for Walmart Canada), which allowed users to go directly to Walmart.ca to purchase. Our ruckus Digital team was responsible for the campaign from start to finish including strategy, production, media buying and reporting/measurement.


These Back to Campus 360 posts were the top performing posts within organic streams across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during summer 2017, producing an 18 per cent increase to organic reach and exceeded benchmarks for online conversions.

Need help with your social content strategy? Drop us a line.

Meet our interns

Over the years, APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital have taken in two interns every year to integrate them into the world of communications.

This year, we have the pleasure of adding four interns to the team. Each intern brings their own set of unique and diverse skills, but there’s no better way to get to know our interns than having them write a little bit about themselves.


Kevin Behar

Twitter: @KevinBehar

Instagram: KevBehar

My name is Kevin and I am a 25 year old from Toronto. I just moved back from the USA after living there for seven years (I was there for my Bachelor’s degree, MBA, and I worked for two years). I was lucky to be given this opportunity to work for APEX/ruckus and I jumped on it. This may be cliché, but this is a place where everyone is actually nice to everyone, and they really want you to grow professionally and personally. Reach out if you like to talk about the news, playing and/or watching sports, and eating food (especially trying new foods).


Kristina Mikhalkova  

Twitter: @mikhalkovakris

Instagram: MikhalkovaKris

I’m Kristina, a recent graduate from the Humber Public Relations program. I’ve always admired communications and last year earned my degree in Business Communications from Brock University. APEX Public Relations has always been a front running agency when it came to applying for an internship position. I’ve respected the culture and atmosphere crafted by the APEX team since first visiting the office six months ago. Inclusivity, sharing knowledge and happiness are just some of the daily things you experience when interning at APEX Public Relations. There is never a dull moment and you are constantly absorbing new and exciting things about working in public relations.


Alison Chiu  

Twitter: @alichiuchiu

Instagram: ahhhchoo

I’m Alison and I’m the newest intern at APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital. I had the opportunity to work in store communications at a retail corporation through a co-op internship prior to coming to APEX. This co-op placement was completed with the Public Relations and Corporate Communications postgraduate program at Seneca College. I also have a background in psychology, film, digital media, and production design – which I intend to use towards developing my career. Before I started my last internship, I already had APEX on my radar. I wanted to engulf myself in the fast-paced, craziness of the agency world and knew that it would be an amazing learning experience. I’ve always wanted to be in a creative environment, which I have found here at APEX/ruckus and I’m grateful for being able to work with such a friendly and supportive team.


Kristia Pavlakos

Twitter: @KristiaPavlakos

Instagram: kristiapavlakos

Hi! I’m Kristia. I’ve been with APEX for about four months now, and I love it! I didn’t start out wanting to get into PR, though – in university, I actually specialized in English and majored in Criminology with the hopes of becoming a lawyer. I soon realized that I loved writing and creating narratives, so after I graduated, I continued my studies and completed my Master of Arts in English at McMaster. Something just wasn’t clicking for me, though – I wanted to tell stories, yes, but I wanted something a little less abstract and a little more real-world. So, I found myself at Ryerson, doing my Master of Professional Communication. Here, I found my niche, and I was able to apply my love for telling stories to create engaging narratives around brands.

Working within an agency is a completely new and different experience for me – every day I’m given the opportunity to try new and exciting things, like coordinating blogger campaigns! This is truly an amazing group – everyone is willing to help each other out, and I’m always learning new things from my clients and colleagues.  We truly love what we do, and I’m so happy to be a part of this team.


(From left: Kristia, Kristina, Kevin and Alison)

Also published on apexpr.com