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Time Out With AOL’s PR & Marketing Specialist, Kira Leblanc

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There are certain people you meet in life that are destined for greatness. I first met Kira only a couple months ago in a continuing education course at Ryerson. Kira’s passion and determination are addictive qualities that quickly captured the attention of the entire class. Being a person who’s drawn to passionate people, I made a point to quickly introduce myself to Kira – she’s driven, successful, and obviously a natural fit for a profile piece on EDPR. Enjoy getting to know Kira with these 8 questions below.

- Cory


What’s your ‘official’ job title, and what do you do at AOL?

My official title at AOL is PR & Marketing Specialist – I oversee all media and public relations for all brands under AOL Canada.  AOL is a global media company with the missions to inform, entertain and connect with consumers, advertisers and publishers worldwide.   The AOL brand encompasses a robust family of over 65 brands, including The Huffington Post Media Group, products and digital advertising solutions, while focusing their efforts on creating original digital content across their suite of properties.  We help brands connect with consumers online through innovative ad formats, custom digital advertising solutions, and premium content brands.  I encourage communication between AOL Canada, the media, consumers, clients and the marketing and advertising trade industries.

Where’d you go to school, and what for?

I began my educational path at Humber College for Paralegal and Business; which then led me to an Honours Degree at York University majoring in Law and Society, and minoring in Aboriginal Studies, and Communications.

How did you land in PR and Marketing and was this always your plan?

I have always had interest in Marketing and Communications in some form or another, however I found it overwhelming to find opportunities to develop my skills and experience in such a big industry.  My marketing passion first blossomed when I worked with Vespa Scooters as a summer street marketing coordinator while in school, from there I worked as a marketing manager at a large restaurant company in Toronto.  At the time I was eager to find a position that would give me the opportunity to be exposed to numerous roles and knowledge so I decided to take a risk and take on a new industry. I landed an amazing opportunity at AOL Canada; which allowed for me to gain incredible insights into digital marketing, advertising, and media.  I first started as a Sales Coordinator; which later evolved into a role as Western Province Ad Sales and finally, my current position as PR and Marketing Specialist.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your position?

I would say one of the most challenging aspects of my position is time management, in PR, and specifically Marketing and PR of a digital media company “time is of the essence”.  Press releases, data and technology updates, brand messaging, product launches, research, client needs and events can add up and urgency is the biggest, most important factor in my world.  It can be hard to fit everything into one single day but when you do, it is a great accomplishment.

What’s the best part of your job?

AOL Canada has been on an incredible journey since I started, I am proud to be a  part of a team that has grown our company into a major competitor in the digital media industry.  I enjoy my job so very much; sometimes the best part is simply the acknowledgement that you can do anything you put your mind to.  Whether it is hosting events, capturing an amazing interview, supporting a lead story online, meeting amazing people of influence such as Arianna Huffington or being a part of a great team, it’s hard not to like what I do.

Who do you look to for mentorship and advice?

I try to learn from the many amazing people I am surrounded by.  Firstly, my mother, a strong, intelligent woman, my husband who keeps me grounded and tells it like it is, and my boss, Laura Pearce, who seems to be able to do it all – job and family.  David Shing, AOL’s Digital Prophet, has been an incredible source of inspiration and advice, along with many of the great leaders at my company.

What are your 3 favourite industry blogs/sites/news outlets?

Oh that’s a hard one, I have so many resources that I go to each and everyday (some useful, others for mere entertainment)!

Here are some of my faves:

The Huffington Post Canada – for all things news/media

Media in Canada – for my daily intake of industry news

Marketing Magazine – for my marketing and media updates

Buzzfeed – for my online video consumption

PR Daily – for social media, best practices and news

What advice would you give for people seeking out a position in a similar field?

I think it is always important to network, I know, breaking news!  Re-think where and how you are networking, is it at events, conferences, parties?  I always have much more success when it is somewhere I am least comfortable.  I am also a strong believer in continuing education, it is a great way to develop new skills, perspectives and, of course, network.  Don’t be afraid to take risks, as you will never succeed unless you fail sometimes.

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