Morgan Hanson is a Public Relations Specialist for Hudson’s Bay and is based in Toronto, Ontario. He holds a Master’s Degree from McMaster University and has experience in communications, social media, and event marketing.
Connect with Morgan: Instagram
How did you break into the communications industry and advance to where you are today?
I broke into the communications industry by working in events and social media for different companies, both agency and client-side. For a long time, I thought I wanted to have a life-long career in events and like many others of my generation, I had a knack for social media.
It was obviously important to be a strong communicator in both fields and I always enjoyed being able to read, write and speak to people. Fast forward to my current role as PR Specialist [at Hudson’s Bay], I think it was really a natural progression as I’m now able to work cross-functionally assisting with all of the above in a role that blends all types of marketing and media.
Did your education successfully prepare you for the career you have now?
I completed my Honours Communications Degree at Wilfrid Laurier University and then earned my Master’s Degree in Communication and New Media from McMaster University where I wrote my major research paper on The Influence and Effect of the Black Lives Matter Movement on Young Black Canadians.
While I do think that both my programs tremendously improved my skills in writing, reading, and presenting, I think that natural networking and my job experiences better prepared me for the career I have now.
What was your first job after graduation and how did you land it?
My first job after graduating from undergrad was an events coordinator role at an experiential marketing agency in Toronto. I had done some brand ambassador work for them previously during my undergrad but I landed that role via referrals from a few internal employees (turned friends) of the agency who were my on-site managers during different activations. Again, clear proof that building good relationships is just as important as doing good work.
What has been your approach to networking?
I really don’t have a networking “approach” but instead, I just like getting to meet new people, learning about their journey, and building organic conversations and sometimes friendships from there. So instead of making someone “part of my network”, I’d rather consider us acquaintances or friendly at minimum, as opposed to the conversation being strictly transactional.
You have worked in various fields. Do you think that has been an advantage in your career as opposed to sticking to one field?
I do think there’s been an advantage having worked in communications, social, and event marketing. I’ve been able to be part of various programs and campaigns and then take those learnings and apply them with a different lens to the next field. I’m happy I’ve been able to get my feet wet in different roles because it’s allowed me to strongly determine what I like and don’t like professionally.
It’s tough for all entry-level professionals to truly know what they want to get into before experiencing it so I’m glad I’ve been able to experience different roles, teams, and responsibilities cause it’s given me a stronger sense of what I do and don’t want to be part of moving forward.
What skills do you think a person needs to survive in the communications industry?
To do well in this industry, I think a person needs to be comfortable speaking publicly. Whether it’s formally presenting an idea, pitching a story, selling a product, service or yourself or just striking up a natural conversation with someone at an event or after a meeting. Emails can only get someone so far so I think it’s important for people in this industry to just feel comfortable talking even if you think it serves no direct purpose at the time.
What do you most enjoy about your current job?
What I enjoy most about my current job is seeing the work that I’ve helped produce resonate positively with people of the public. Whether that’s a social media photoshoot or a story that I pitched or an event I helped plan. Not all industries have the benefit of their work hitting public eyes, so it’s nice when it does and people resonate positively with it.
What has been your most rewarding career accomplishment?
My most rewarding career accomplishment has actually been of late, and it’s being able to highlight and amplify Black people in the content I’ve helped produce. In my short career so far, a lot of the programming that I’ve previously been part of across all marketing and media has not adequately, powerfully or continuously showcased Black people.
And at many of these tables, I was either uncomfortable with offering my entry-level opinion or when I did, it fell on deaf ears. So now, it’s the most rewarding for me to be part of a necessary change and actively pushing for this change in the projects I work on.
What is the greatest professional challenge you faced and how did you handle it?
The greatest professional challenge I’ve faced is getting over the slump and demotivation of long-term job hunting. Once people find a job, they quickly forget or seldomly discuss how that hunting process was for them, especially if they did it for months.
I know how time-consuming, disheartening, and draining it can be especially when you know you check all the boxes and think you’ll be the best fit. I handled it by sometimes taking week-long breaks when I needed it, being clear about what type of job I did not want and really thinking about what a potential job opportunity might be able to do for me and my career advancement.
What is the most important thing to keep in mind when working with a team?
Never assume someone fully understands what you mean — especially today when so many people aren’t in the same room as their team day-to-day. Keep in mind that very few people will get mad at an “over communicator”.
When working with a team be sure to table those ideas and explain your goal or objective behind a task clearly so there is very little confusion across the board. Always ask and answer questions as you see fit because it’ll only help in the long run.
At what point should someone consider moving on from their job to seek other opportunities?
Someone should immediately consider moving from their job to seek a new opportunity the minute they’re no longer learning new things or at minimum excited about the things they’re working on.
You should be getting as much out of a role as you’re giving to the role and if you’re not getting new knowledge, excitement or recognition and/or career advancement from your job then there is absolutely no reason to stay.
You have a strong and active social media presence. How important has this been in bringing opportunities your way?
It’s honestly hard to say how important it’s been in generating opportunity because no one really knows if a hiring manager, HR rep, colleague or partner is always visiting your socials. One could assume everyone is but you never really know.
I think people do love putting a face and personality to a name and social is a great way to do that pre/post-meeting which is why I find it important to keep my socials very authentic and tapped into what I care about. I have two Instagram accounts (a fashion industry-related public account and a private account) and currently, nothing on social media is more important than my support for Black lives in all spaces.
Whether you have social or not, always make sure any reflection of you is as authentic as possible and that way only the right opportunities will flow your way.
We’re seeing brands responding to political and social movements more than ever before. What should communications professionals keep in mind when crafting and putting out these responses?
Communications professionals who are crafting and putting out responses should never forget that their words hold no weight if they are not met with actionable steps and considerable, consistent change. Internal or external acknowledgment of a political or social movement is literally step 1, if not step 0.5. And sadly, many companies are still at that step.
Before crafting statements, companies should evaluate what they are going to do to drive real, continuous change inside and outside their organization. Before they have mapped out real plans, processes and benchmarks to measure this change internally then I don’t think a statement should be made and their professionals on staff need to hold them accountable and follow up.
What advice do you have for someone who has difficulty finding a job after graduation?
“What’s meant for you will happen for you.” It sounds terribly cliché but there are some roles that I interviewed for and got offered that I just knew instinctively weren’t a good fit.
But also, some companies and roles that at the time I thought were my absolute dream job and now in hindsight, I honestly thank God it didn’t work out. So always remember what’s meant for you will reach you in time.
Also, it’s okay to be picky and to trust your gut in ensuring that your job applications align with your interests! I knew I wanted to blend my interest in communication with my love for fashion and even as desperate as I was to find a job at some points, I knew I needed to fight for that blend or else I wouldn’t be happy at a company and in turn I wouldn’t last long in the role, taking me right back to where I started. So I think people should be picky and not just take what they first get.
What do you know today that you wish you knew at the start of your career?
Real work/life balance will result in better quality work.