February Member Profile: Meet Colleen Gareau

In a world where Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope dominate the discussion, it’s easy to get distracted by the latest communication fad. That’s why IABC Ottawa member Colleen Gareau is guided by one thing only: Impact.

“There is always the new shiny thing that can seem appealing. We have to gauge how effective that new thing might be in achieving the goal you’re after,” says Gareau. “It’s really important to stay on track to allow creativity to flourish. Otherwise we’re just running around doing a whole lot of nothing worthwhile.”

That sentiment has guided her through a career with the City of Kingston, the Regional Municipality of York, the RCMP, Communications Nova Scotia and the Ontario Association of Engineering Technicians and Technologists. She first became an IABC member in the early 1990s.

Now she’s focusing on a new challenge: Her own public relations firm.

Lakeview Public Relations, which she believes to be Kingston’s only public relations company, launched in January.

“Opportunity and inspiration aligned,” says Gareau. “I have been a consultant in the past and have been thinking about what I see as a gap in available services in Kingston. When my position as director of communication for the City of Kingston came to an end, I was ready to make this happen.”

You can be sure Gareau’s focus on impact will be one of Lakeview’s hallmarks.

As an example she points to a client who wants to launch an account on a social media platform. The client might have heard it’s the place to be, but is it actually the best use of resources?

This is when Gareau goes back to the goal to help focus the work. Does a social media account fit with the audience, culture or resources of the organization?

If not, says Gareau, she helps her clients understand why it’s important to focus on goals — to rise above the noise rather than contribute to it.

“I understand that there are never enough resources to do everything we want to do to help my clients identify and focus on their goals so we can do that which will have the best impact,” says Gareau.

Part of her goal is to help her clients be successful by using good communication practices coupled with creativity.

“Communication touches so many areas that when it isn’t working, an organization’s other efforts struggle as well,” says Gareau. “We want to help our clients really connect with their audiences — to help them do all the good things that PR can do whether it’s developing a brand, building relationships or having a conversation.”

Gareau expects her IABC membership to help guide her through the next phase of her career – just as it has since she first joined as a student.

“Staying connected with my peers is invaluable,” says Gareau. “Communication/PR pros are willing to help out whether it’s with a referral or sharing experiences, which I appreciate tremendously. IABC gives us a home base to connect with each other.”

It’s also a great way to stay on top of communications trends, so when the Next Big Thing does arrive, she’ll be ready.

“The faster technology and practices change, the more important it is to stay current,” she says. “IABC’s resources, learning opportunities and events are helpful for busy professionals. I appreciate knowing there is a place I can go for information.”

Get in touch with Colleen Gareau!

Twitter: @colleeninygk


LinkedIn: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/colleengareau