Judy Gombita

jgombita.jpgToronto, Canada

With more than 20 years of experience as a public relations and communication management veteran, specializing in the association and lifelong learning sectors; over the last few years I’ve embraced the role of senior-level, hybrid public relations and social media strategist.

I hold a track record in initiating or building on successful relationships between an organization and its constituents with various publics, including community and government relations, boards of trade and chambers of commerce, non-profits and other associations, academic institutions, government-sponsored agencies and affiliate partners. A key component is management of proactive media relations campaigns that highlight stories about the expertise and activities of organizations and its employees or members and how they positively impact various publics. I’m also adept at managing reactive media relations (i.e., sharing appropriate information, particularly during crisis communications) through knowledge of the subject, appropriate research and authenticity. Public relations initiatives have been explored through both traditional and non-traditional avenues.

Experience includes executive-level speechwriting and briefing notes, participating in the scripting and production of videos for internal and external publics; contributing as a member of the core working group responsible for the branding and development of a dedicated recruitment micro website (including post-launch placement of articles in various media and trade publications); and writing original copy to promote a professional designation and association, program of professional studies and seminar programs (including internal and targeted groups, such as human resources personnel, secondary and post-secondary academic institutions, and affiliate organization). Rounding out a public relations skill set is effective representation at media launches, receptions, AGMs and gala dinners for government-sponsored activities, affiliate groups, non-profit agencies and special-interest awards programs.

Communication-related project management expertise includes developing and updating a popular series of public information booklets (including editing a student course workbook used in the grade 11 curriculum in the province of Ontario), and writing or editing provincial budget summaries, professional development catalogues, member rosters and public sections of a highly trafficked website. Recent social media efforts include the initiation, management and pre- and post-event promotion (via newswire services, targeted news releases, websites, blogs, e-mails and Flickr) of an annual public webcast that features top Canadian economists. YouTube has also been used to complement a traditional television ad campaign.

Other strengths include the planning, management and promotion of special events and conferences. This includes scripting, event pacing and traffic flow of large-scale ceremonies.

In addition to PR Conversations, I contributed a column for two years (September 2011 to August 2013) on “social public relations” (#socialPR) for Maximize Social Business, Bytes from the PR Sphere (about the intersection of public relations and social media for business).

I’ve also contributed articles to CommPRObiz, and currently hold the record for “most-read” article, Part II of Making Honest B2B Endorsements through Social PR.

Follow me on Twitter or Google+.

Associations and Affiliations

Recruited to join the Canadian Public Relations Society’s national professional development in the spring of 2008  (and serving for two years), Judy was responsible for Maple Leaf Foods agreeing to participate in webinar about its “platinum standard” crisis communications.  Earlier, Judy played a key role in the recruitment of a financial professional to volunteer with the (CPRS) Communications and Public Relations Foundation and helped research and recommend the subject expert for the inaugural CPRS webinar.

For more than 10 years, she was an affiliated volunteer with the Learning Resources Network, the leading international consulting organization in association education to provide consulting, training and marketing expertise to association executives. The 2008 year marks the end of an elected, four-year term of office on LERN’s board of directors, including three consecutive appointments as its treasurer (2004-2008). Prior to board election, served as a multi-year chair/member of LERN’s association education council (remaining an emeritus member). Served as an initiator/working group member of LERN’s inaugural and sophomore association education symposiums (fall of 2006 and 2007).

Past affiliation and involvement includes two consecutive terms as the vice president of member communications (direct responsibility for all print and electronic communication vehicles) for the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, including initiating a successful think-tank sessions program. She served as the program’s inaugural, dedicated director the following year.

In the last few years significant volunteer work is with “A Heart to Art Chat” unconference at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Hot Docs’ committees struck on the current and future state of its digital and social media properties, as well as a committee struck for audience and community feedback regarding the Bloor Cinema and Hot Docs, and a number of volunteer roles with the Canadian Film Centre, including symposiums held during its Worldwide Short Film Festival. Earlier community involvement includes volunteering for the gala opening of the Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to remember exhibit, Royal Ontario Museum and serving as a member of the organizing committee of the March of Dimes Canada’s Ability and Beyond 2007’s Princess Royal Gala Fundraising Dinner. She spent many years volunteering as a special and regular exhibits greeter, as well as membership renewal telemarketer, for the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Education and Publications

Achieved an honours liberal arts degree (double specialist, English and History, graduated “with distinction), University of Toronto and completed a certificate program in magazine journalism from Ryerson University. For a double-digit number of year attended the annual LERN confrence (including opening and general session presenter) and spring LERN Leaders’ retreats (i.e., strategic planning sessions). Also, occasional attendance at CPRS and IABC conferences and inaugural and 2007 mesh conference (“Canada’s first Web 2.0 conference”).

Articles contributed to Association Magazine (Canadian Society of Association Executives); LERN Magazine and the Journal of Employee Communications (Lawrence Ragan Communications, Ltd., Chicago; reprinted with permission on the http://www.communitelligence.com portal). Profile subject, Strategic Communication Management (Melcrum Publishing, UK). For several years served as one of the inaugural panelists contributing to the “Sound Bites” column in the Ragan Report. Also featured twice in the “Benchmark” column, which focused on my audio postcards and chapter newsletters rebranding campaign initiatives(Ragan Report also published by the Lawrence Ragan Communications, Ltd.).


LERN Award for Excellence in Web Marketing (http://www.nameyourneed.org recruitment website), December 2006.
LERN International Award for Excellence in Marketing (top award; audio postcards initiative), December 2003.


Professional interests include effective public relations strategies and tactics; the benefits of lifelong education opportunities; business and financial management and training; and new technologies/social media. Personal interests include travel, theatre, classical and operatic music, literature and film (including Doc Soup membership and annual attendance at the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs festival, etc.).

Involvement and Mandate Re: PR Conversations

One of the inaugural contributors, my interest continues as a principal in this collaborative blog because I value PRC’s mandate of provoking worldview conversations on targeted subjects, which are enhanced by national/regional perspectives. Over the past year, growing my network of PR colleagues from around the world has proven fulfilling and gratifying. Whether it be from co-bloggers or readers (who share comments online, through e-mails, phone or in person), appreciation grows for how alike (and how different) are experiences and opinions, whether our working days are spent as practitioners or academics, and no matter from which part of the globe we call home. In our first year of operations, we’ve witnessed a respectable number of quality posts and productive global conversations about relevant topics and timely events. I know I’ve learned a great deal. I hope this second year will prove even more fruitful.

The focus of my posts will remain on real-world experiences and observations from a PR practitioner’s perspective. I have a passion and belief in the value of lifelong education and new experiences. This includes always operating under a professional and personal code of ethics, and actively seeking out dialogue, networks and partnerships. I respect the need for core values and outside interests, and possess a genuine interest in organizations and people that span geographies. PRC provides an opportunity to research and codify what’s proven successful (or not) in the past and yet remain open and receptive to new people, ideas and practices. It helps to define one’s self, developing a practitioner’s knowledge and curiosity, values and skill set that are carried with you, no matter where your place of employment. Participating on PR Conversations is a part of my commitment.

I plan to continue to use this platform on occasion to spotlight other PR practitioners. I also remain interested in exploring the status of public relations as a defined profession. I welcome your suggestions for worthy PR-related subject experts and topics, particularly from regions across Canada.