This Is How I Get It DONE
Welcome Season 5 of our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada & Profectio community members to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our second episode of Season 5 we talked to Bernard Cote, Vice President, Ketchum Canada [TCO].
VP at Ketchum Montreal, pronounced Vé-Pé of course.
One word to describe you:
Swiss-Army-Knife (adding hyphens makes it one word, right?), but as a team leader, I wear multiple hats every day.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I’ve always been a marketing and communications guy. Both my dad and sister are in PR and I studied journalism and communications in university in the US. While there, I also played basketball so decided I’d want to combine both my passion for comms and sports when I’d start working. I did that for a few years with Reebok and MEC and that eventually led me to the agency world predominantly working on sports brands with Reebok (hopped the fence to the brand’s agency), CCM Hockey, adidas and Opus Bikes. The accounts and industries have since evolved but my role remains similar: making brands shine in Quebec, while ensuring alignment nationally with the rest of the Ketchum team.<
What is a typical work day like for you?
The beauty of agency is the variety of things you get to touch. One day you’re headed to a client event, the next you’re media training a spokesperson, or counselling on how to position a client’s announcement for media. That’s what keeps me going. I’ve always had a hard time staying still, so doing different things is good for my mind! And of course there are the other things which aren’t as exciting, but still need to get done. In my case, those usually involve Excel sheets and numbers in general…
What was a moment in your career that really helped define how you work today?
The moment I realized I could act as a bridge between Quebec and the rest of the country. Sounds somewhat theatrical, but let’s face it, we’re different here. I was born in Toronto, but most of my childhood was spent here in Montreal and I’ve been back since graduating university. And unless you’re from the region and understand all the local and regional nuances, it’s tough for any brand to integrate seamlessly as the cultural differences transcend language… So I’ve always been “that guy” on the phone with partner agencies or clients, pushing for what I believe resonates best in Quebec.
How do you balance family-work?
My wife and I are tackling this together so teamwork and mutual support is essential. Luckily for us, juggling 4 kids running around at home has never been an issue. And Ketchum is a breath of fresh air in the agency world, as the company prioritizes work-life balance for all employees worldwide. Need some time to disconnect? Go ahead. Kid has a show at school? You better be there.
9-5 is LONG gone, what is one shortcut or life hack that works for you?
I can’t function without my calendar – if it’s not in there, it doesn’t exist (or I’ll forget about it). So prioritizing and blocking time off for things other than work seems to be the best on my end. My family is my everything, so when I’m off work I of course try to spend as much time as possible with my wife and kids. Things can get messy with school, birthday parties, sports and other activities so everything is in our shared family calendar. Also, prioritizing some “me” time is a new concept to me, but one I recently realized was essential to my mental wellbeing (I thought I didn’t need any)… And of course, removing most notifications from my phone also helped with my attempts to disconnect.