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What started out as a stable teaching job for Marlene Finn later turned into a full-time consulting career when she noticed the need for a communications expert in the aboriginal community. As much as I felt there was a need for someone like me to support the community, I also felt like I wanted to be a part of the community, she says. I didn't feel that way when I was working as a teacher.

Personally, that was the motivator to start her company at Marlene Finn Wolfman Consulting, but Finn also adds that she was encouraged by the radical change in aboriginal demographics. We have this booming youth population that is really changing the face of the aboriginal community. We've got so many First Nations moving to the big cities in search of work and education.

Finn explains that through the work she's done with her aboriginal clients, she found they were overwhelmed by the pressures to meet the needs of their markets in the big city, despite the tremendous potential.

What they offer

Storytelling and reputation-building is what PR Associates are best known for. The BC-based public relations and communications company, with an expertise in the natural resource sector, works closely with the aboriginal community and local businesses.

Amongst the services we provide are government regulatory affairs, indigenous and right holders affairs, corporate and stakeholder communications, public consultation and engagement, issues and emergency response, communications and planning, communications research, and media relations, lists Deena Tokaryk, account manager at the agency.

In addition to managing her clients' media relations, Deena also assists in developing strategies and tools, as well as communicates with their audiences in a way that resonates with them. The media is a very important channel to tell client stories to the investors and public, so media relations can be a very important strategy in a communications plan, she says.

Finn works with both new aboriginal entrepreneurs and long-time organization owners on their communications and marketing needs. Depending on their requests, she outlines long-term strategies. I plan conferences, anniversary dinners, awards presentations, produce videos; those services would be part of a larger plan to either establish and organization in a certain community, Finn explains. I've also done a lot of work to help them revamp their brands. I've done brand identification and redevelopment with some of the boards of some of these organizations.

The end result

Simply put, both PR Associates and Marlene Finn Wolfman Consulting strive to do one thing: make a positive impact on aboriginal businesses and the community. Within public relations and communications, in any business really, it's about the relationship you develop with the clients, Tokaryk explains. At the end of the day, if you're doing it right, you're putting strategies into place that address the goals and objectives.

In order to obtain long-term success, communications is key, says Finn. I try to inform people of that reality but, at the same time, also try and encourage them to be creative with what they have available to them.

Photo: Siri Stafford/Thinkstock