Sherry Romanado: For this Public-Relations Pro, the Greatest Gift is Giving Back

2011-2012 Issue 2
Sherry Romanado

Sherry Romanado

Sherry Romanado, a lecturer in the School of Continuing Studies’ Public Relations program, knows exactly what her students are going through – and what they expect from their education.

Before she began teaching at the School, Romanado was a learner there herself. She completed a Certificate in Public Relations Management in 2005 – all while working full-time and raising a family.

“There are deadlines at work,” Romanado says. “There are things that happen. And so I know what it’s like to try to juggle all of those things. I try to go the extra mile for my students.”

Romanado started teaching at the School in January 2011. The prospect of moulding the next generation of business leaders drew her back to the classroom, she says. “I noticed in my work that often, people who were working alongside you were really missing some of the fundamentals.” Romanado resolved to remedy the situation by “intercepting them earlier and imparting to them a sound grasp of the basics of business and communications.”

Though textbooks outline these ideas, in the workplace they often play out differently than they do on paper. “I explain concepts in real terms,” Romanado says. “I think these are fundamentally learners who want practical information that they’re going to be able to use in their careers.”

With that in mind, Romanado makes a point of bringing real-world examples into the classroom. “When we had the issue of News of the World ” – the News Corp.-owned paper embroiled in a phone-hacking scandal – “we used it in the Ethics in Public Relations class and said: ‘If you are the PR person responsible, if you’re working with Rupert Murdoch, what do you say? What do you do?’”

On other occasions, Romanado has drawn on her own work for her lectures and exercises. “I volunteer as director of communications for the Canadian Grenadier Guards Cadet Corps, and they were looking for a communications plan,” she says. She let her class members propose their own strategies. “The plans they came up with were spectacular!”

No surprise, perhaps, given how quickly many learners take to the subject matter. “They understand that public relations isn’t just writing press releases,” Romanado says. “You can use the skills that you’re going to gain in this program in everything that you do, whether it’s international relations or working in the corporate or non-profit sectors.”

Romanado, who now runs her own consulting firm, is pleased with the trajectory her career has taken. Two years ago, she says, she did not plan to teach courses at her alma mater. But she’s grateful for the opportunity. “It’s my way of giving back. For me to be able to come back and teach the next generation, I’m loving it. I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop.”

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