Leasider lauded by PR group

Maryjane Martin helped start freelance business

Maryjane Martin was never one to follow the crowd.

In 1992, when freelance PR was unheard of, she established her own firm, MJ Martin & Company.

She must have done something right.

The trailblazer was recognized by the Canadian Public Relations Society as Professional of the Year for her almost 30 years of achievement.

“In the beginning, not a lot of people went out on their own but I fell into freelancing in some ways,” she said. “People were always asking me for help, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ”

Though she graduated with a film degree, Martin said she realized she wanted to be involved in the story rather than just writing it. Soon she found herself working in the internal communications sector where she helps executives deliver messages to their employees.

“Transparency starts with the employees,” she said. “I help explain change. For example, if there’s a merger or new programs, I walk employees through how it’s going to affect them … or the new way of doing things.”

Following the industry trend, Martin has been integrating social media more and more in her work and is starting to see its benefits.

“Social media has been a little later in coming internally but it’s prompted openness and the usage of different vehicles of communication,” she said. “It allows you to reach people more directly rather than sending out a broad statement.”

She has worked with companies like TD Bank and the Ontario ministries of transportation, health, and training, colleges and universities.

Having been around for a long time, Martin has witnessed industry shifts but maintains the basic tenet of PR is still the same.

“The biggest thing you learn in public relations is that it always has to be a two-way conversation … and not about manipulating people to make money,” said Martin.

As a past instructor in Ryerson University, Martin made sure to teach her students the lessons she learned through years of experience.

“By educating people and helping support schools who are training future practitioners, we can get away from the negative identity attached to some PR professionals,” she said.

Other than teaching, Martin spends her time volunteering with Canadian Public Relations Society and the International Association of Business Communicators as a mentor.

Ever the busy woman, she says she never has enough time to do everything.

“Sometimes there are trade-offs and not always a balance,” she said. “I don’t ever work 9-to-5. I work all the time, but in between, I get to meet great people, so at the end it’s all worth it.”

About this article:

By: Sarah Taguiam
Posted: Jun 14 2012 4:21 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto