CG&A COMM 2004 – 2008

In January 2019, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS celebrated its 25th birthday. To commemorate the occasion Chris George reflects on the company’s development. This is the third installment of a five -part series that chronicles the growth of the company. 

The next five years (2004 – 2008) were an adventure in establishing CG&A COMMUNICATIONS as a company with home offices spanning from Montreal to Niagara Falls. Technology is an enabler for a company like this one. The phone, Internet and e-mail allowed our consultants to collaborate and deliver communications services to anywhere in a timely manner. Many clients did not require us to physically be in their offices – and often, our consultants completed contracts without ever having a face-to-face meeting. So, what was once an oddity to have a virtual corporation linking a group of consultants is now an accepted practice.

Our new Niagara office resulted in important new connections in southern Ontario. CG&A COMMUNICATIONS was able to provide a greater turnkey communications service with the growth of our network. We were pleased to have been working with a superb printing expert Robert Van Wyngaarden, copy editor Alexandra Cormier, and wordsmith Pamela Cicci, not to mention our working relationships with senior communications project manager Sue MacGregor, as well as a planning and promoting specialist Andy Donovan. These additions complemented our core consultants and helped forge an integrated network of like-minded professionals, permitting the company to concurrently manage a number of projects with diverse communications objectives. The company’s multi-talented group of consultants and partnering associates is, unquestionably, its greatest hidden asset.

Rewarding Successes

For many years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada) was one of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ core clients. For 14 years, our consultants provided communications services and played an integral role in the policy agenda of this Canadian charity. In 2006, our efforts culminated in having the MADD organization and impaired driving policy nationally showcased with Prime Minister Stephen Harper launching MADD Canada’s annual red ribbon holiday awareness campaign. More importantly, through 2006 and 2007, we helped to coordinate and facilitate MADD Canada’s involvement with the passage of important new impaired driving legislation. The new federal laws dealing with drug impaired driving and the elimination of the two-beer defence were issues MADD Canada had fought for more than 8 years!

Likewise, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ long-serving efforts on behalf of the Copyright Consortium of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) resulted in the introduction of essential federal copyright legislation in 2008. The internet amendment the education community in Canada sought was included in the new copyright legislation. Although the Conservative Government’s original Copyright Bill did not progress through Parliament, a new line in the sand was drawn so students and teachers – and all learning Canadians – can be more hopeful that the federal government is listening to their needs when considering digital copyright matters and Internet use in the classroom.

Another one of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ long-standing clients that saw some very interesting developments over the years is Commissionaires Ottawa.  Originally retained to write and produce its newsletter and internal communications pieces, Managing Partner Andrée Paige led a group of consultants to help position and promote this private security force serving the National Capital Region, the Ottawa Valley and Northern Ontario. From expanding its range of identification services, to establishing itself as an authority with emerging security issues, Commissionaires Ottawa grew in stature and was publicly recognized as the largest, best trained and most experienced private security force throughout its service territory. Based on our work with Commissionaires Ottawa, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS also provided services to other Divisions across the country, as well as the national organization and its National Business Management Committee Chairman.

New Challenges

CG&A COMMUNICATIONS continued to have its share of new clients.  In Niagara / GTA, the company provided both communications counsel and services to the senior management of the Niagara Parks Commission; wordsmith and internal communications counsel to ACCO Canada; and strategic planning advice to the Independent Pharmacists of Ontario. In Ottawa, the company provided promotional services for the Geriatric Psychiatry Community Services; media relations for the opening of the Ottawa Mindcare Clinic; and, the planning and promotional support, media relations and logistical services for the inaugural Run for Military Families event from Ottawa to CFB Petawawa. There has also been work involving the Kensington Technology Group of California.

Within the last year, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS worked on many exciting initiatives: the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy, media relations for the Canadian Literacy Forum (a cross-country on-line event), and strategic counsel services for the Nova Scotia Educational Leadership Consortium. Most recently, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS was selected by the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital to develop a long-term communications plan for the construction and opening of a new hospital building serving Grimsby and the western Niagara community.

January 2009 marked 15 years. Gone is the blue shag-rug and one-room office along the Ottawa canal. That office resembles nothing of our business today except for the vision and enthusiasm of its core consultants. We take great pride in being reliable and ‘a cut above.’ We appreciate and work hard for our clients’ trust. Our results speak to the personal attention and involvement of our braintrust in not only the counsel and planning of our clients’ communications initiatives, but also in the implementation details of our strategies. It’s been a great journey to reach the 15-year milestone, and we are anticipating more fun and excitement on the road ahead. Thank you to all who support or in some way have been involved in, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS!

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

CG&A COMM 1999 – 2003

In January 2019, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS celebrated its 25th birthday. To commemorate the occasion Chris George reflects on the company’s development. This is the second installment of a five -part series that chronicles the growth of the company at the Turn of the Century.  

As the clock struck twelve to mark the beginning of the 21st Century, residents of our country’s Capital were also celebrating the birth of a new city. A total of 12 municipalities and 150 communities came together that evening to become the new City of Ottawa – spanning 2,760 square kilometres and boasting 800,000 citizens.

The momentous task of amalgamating the region was given to a board of seven individuals, led by one of Ottawa’s preeminent residents – Claude Bennett. The Ottawa Transition Board’s (OTB) 14-month mission was to establish a new council and city management team; design new delivery models for municipal services; re-organize the municipal 14,000-plus employees; and, present budgetary recommendations to save taxpayers over $80 million annually. 

Chris George was named communications counsel to the Chairman, and to the Board’s Members and its staff. CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ network of consultants was given the task of managing the Board’s full array of public relations initiatives. For all of us involved in the OTB’s challenges that year, it was a distinct privilege to work with Claude Bennett and Board Members Camille Guilbault, Ed Mulkins, David Muir, Pierre Tessier, Al Bouwers and Kathy Greiner.

The years 1999 and 2000 will remain an unforgettable time for CG&A COMM and our OTB team! For CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ core consultants, it was wonderful to work alongside Susan Wright and Gilles Verret. These two individuals are very talented at plying their trade and they were instrumental in implementing effective employee and issue-specific initiatives. There were other talents who were integral to the OTB Communications Team, whose efforts contributed greatly to the success of the public relations program. Stephanie Machel managed the office, Carl Martin oversaw media relations and Andrée Paige worked on community outreach initiatives. Thank you to all!

Onward from the Ottawa Transition Board  

The years following the OTB were very productive at CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. We were heavily involved with MADD Canada’s government advocacy and media relations efforts as that organization grew in stature and established itself at the forefront of the anti-impaired driving battles in our country.  

In 2000, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS became the public relations company of record for Hydro Ottawa and, then later, serviced its sister companies, Energy Ottawa and Telecom Ottawa. With Hydro Ottawa, we counseled its CEO and senior management team on communications issues, helped establish its corporate brand, and assisted with the implementation of both its internal and external communications programs.

The Hydro Ottawa contract provided the opportunity Andrée Paige to sign on as a lead consultant of CG&A COMMUNICATIONS. In the wake of the OTB, there was no other event that had more of an impact on the firm’s lasting presence in Ottawa than Andrée joining our core team. Andrée’s conscientious and efficient management of projects was a real asset for both the clients and our company’s reputation. Her ‘left-brain’ insight and enthusiastic approach to her tasks made her someone you want in your corner.  It was a treat to have Andrée along on the CG&A COMMUNICATIONS journey!

Also during this time, Chris George was named Communications Advisor to the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) and its Copyright Consortium – a position that he holds to this day. The education ministers across the country forged a united front when faced with then senior Liberal Cabinet Minister Sheila Copps’ attempt to place a new licensing fee (essentially a head tax) for students to use Internet materials in the classroom. CG&A COMMUNICATIONS developed a communication strategy to combat this unfair and misdirected policy and, since 2001, the company has been executing a communications program to advocate for a balanced approach to copyright and the educational use of the Internet. Through a series of elections, a revolving door of ministers, and the stuttered step of the government’s copyright reform process, the CMEC Copyright Consortium finally realized success with the federal government tabling a comprehensive copyright Bill in June of 2008. That bill included an important education amendment. In the face of strong lobbies from Canadian copyright owners, publishers and collectives, our educational leaders in Canada were resolute in advancing their case for teachers’ and students’ fair access to Internet resources in the classroom. (This legislative journey took four years – and there is more to tell with the CMEC story in future posts.)

Years of Growth

CG&A COMMUNICATIONS expanded their roles within Hydro Ottawa, CMEC Copyright Consortium, and MADD Canada. The company’s braintrust grew not only in numbers but, more importantly, in its capabilities. The strength of the team lay in the skills and professionalism of the core consultants: wordsmith Andrée Paige, creative designer Raymond Leveille, webmaster Fraser Anderson, and translators Julie Baker and (subsequently) Johanne Ladner.

Similarly, through those years CG&A COMMUNICATIONS developed an excellent network of associates and partnering companies to help service its clients. We are proud to have had affiliations with Nik Nanos, Nathan Rudyk, Barry Solway and Vicki Griffiths.

President Chris George attributes the success of the company on continually building the consultancy’s network and its partners. With one foot planted in corporate and not-for-profit advocacy and another planted in government affairs at all levels, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS evolved into one of the leading independent public relations firms in the Nation’s Capital.

Having passed a number of satisfying milestones in Ottawa, the company’s founders decided to strike out on another course. In the summer of 2002, Chris and Lisa George pulled up stakes and moved their home and office across Ontario to Niagara. Leaving a core team of consultants to service Ottawa-based clients, the Georges looked to extend its company’s reach into the GTA and the Niagara Region.

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Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

The Flashback Friday Photo Gallery

In January 2019, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS celebrated its 25th birthday. Through the year, Chris and Lisa George will post photos from their activities in this “Flashback Friday Gallery.” Enjoy this trip down memory lane.

The Ottawa Transition Board’s 14-month mission was to establish a new council and city management team; design new delivery models for municipal services; re-organize the municipal 14,000-plus employees; and, present budgetary recommendations to save taxpayers over $80 million annually. 

Claude Bennett, seen here chairing a meeting of the Ottawa Transition Board (1999). Claude is one of Ottawa’s most distinguished community leaders. He served as Ottawa South MPP and was a minister in the governments of Premier Bill Davis. Claude also served as Chairman of the Royal Canadian Mint, Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation and the Ottawa International Airport – among many other federal, provincial and municipal responsibilities. 

Federal Minister John Manley officially hands over the airport terminal keys to the Ottawa Airport Authority in a public ceremony February 1, 1997. 

Airport President Paul Benoit (far right) helps to unveil the new Ottawa Airport logo. CG&A COMM managed all public relations for the transition to the Ottawa Airport Authority – including the development of the new logo (1996-97).  

Chris speaks with MADD Canada President Susan MacAskill and National Board Chair Tony Carvalho at a MADD Canada National Conference in mid 1990’s. 

Chris and Lisa with MADD Canada Executive Director Andrew Murie at a Ottawa press conference launching a study on youth impaired driving fatalities. 

Lisa and her mother, Daisy, organizing a MADD Canada mailing – late 1990’s. (All family members have been part of the CG&A COMM story at sometime in its history.) 

Chris & Lisa are all smiles having received their first cheque from the Ottawa Airport Authority (1997). No more watering down the soup! 

Lisa Hingley in her office (1994). 

Chris George (1994).

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

CG&A COMM 1994 – 1998

In January 2019, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS celebrated its 25th birthday. To commemorate the occasion Chris George reflects on the company’s development. This is part one of a five-part series that chronicles the challenges of the company’s fledgling first five years. 

Twenty-five years ago, everyone was fascinated by O.J. Simpson driving on a L.A. freeway, Forrest Gump providing life’s secret in a box of chocolates, and watching the plot twists of two new television series, ER and Friends. In the year 1994 commercial sites began to appear on something called the World Wide Web, mass marketing campaigns began ‘spamming’ via e-mail, and the White House launched its first website. It was certainly a different world we lived and worked in.

The origins of Chris George and Associates – later to be coined CG&A COMMUNICATIONS – are found in entertaining, after-work discussions along Ottawa’s Elgin Street. That’s where Lisa Hingley and Chris George committed to starting a public relations consultancy that would build on their public relations experience acquired through years on Parliament Hill. In the summer of 1993, Lisa and Chris began taking steps to ‘hang out a shingle’ upon the completion of the Fall 1993 federal election. In December the new business was registered and, in January 1994, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS officially opened its doors.      

Inspired by the success of good friends Nathan Rudyk and Peter Vanderlee, and their business model at Mindshare Marketing Group, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS was designed to become a virtual corporation, built with a network of talented, freelance consultants. Within months of start-up, the company offered a full range of communications services. Much of 1994 and 1995 involved fostering work relationships with like-minded communications consultants.

In the beginning…

The firm’s first office space was a small room with two desks, a desktop computer, a futon, a filing cabinet, a line of bookshelves, and a blue shag rug. E-mail had just been introduced to the workplace, and our primary mode of communications was still the fax machine. CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ main office expenses in those early days were fax paper (purchased by the roll), cross-city bike couriers and postage for our promotional mailings. Early drafts of work were penned. Our office in the first six months was anything but a beehive of activity. 

Gus Zygoumis, Ottawa businessman and owner of Dustmoon Maintenance, was CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ first client. Gus’ generousity and encouragement through the first year is still greatly appreciated for it provided us with the income to get our legs underneath us. We wish to take this opportunity to thank Gus and Martha for their support and friendship!

Likewise, the early contracts from Mindshare Marketing Group provided much needed cash flow for the business. Working alongside Nathan Rudyk was both rewarding and an education. Nathan’s vision regarding business opportunities with the advent of the Internet helped set our firm’s core service offerings. Mindshare’s success, providing both traditional marketing and Internet-related services to private and public sector clients, was proof-positive that we were experiencing the dawning of a new era in public relations. In those earliest, most challenging times through 1994-95, we thank Nathan and Peter for all that they shared.  

Early contracts during those first years included communications services and office support at Queen’s Park and Ottawa City Hall. Though no longer gainfully employed within the political process, both Lisa and Chris were active in politics at all levels of government. We were involved in a number of political campaigns, including the highly successful and triumphant 1997 Ottawa Mayoralty race for Jim Watson. It was during this period that Lisa met and befriended Fraser Anderson – who was to become CG&A COMMUNICATIONS’ longtime webmaster and Internet consultant.

Our initial success…

In the mid-1990s, three specific contracts helped to mould the company into a full service public relations business. First, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS with its network of consultants won an extensive RFP process against more than 100 of the country’s PR firms. In 1995, the Ottawa International Airport was being privatized from Transport Canada and established as a community-run business. (Photo: Minister John Manley officially handing over the airport terminal key to the Ottawa Airport Authority.) On the strength of our team and our strategic approach to positioning the new airport entity, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS became the public relations firm of record to manage everything from the airport’s official opening and launch of its website, to its media and government relations efforts, as well as the promotion of terminal upgrades such as the new U.S. pre-clearance facility.

Second, the company secured government and public relations work from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Canada). In the beginning, MADD’s Executive Director Jim Wideman had the desire to establish a presence in Ottawa, and then Chairman of the Board Tony Carvalho took the necessary steps to develop MADD’s strategic plan for government and public policy. Chris was initially called upon to manage the public policy agenda – and, within a few years the firm assumed responsibilities for creating and producing much of MADD’s print products, supporting the National President’s tour, managing government relations, directing national media relations, event planning, and building and managing the national website. For fourteen years, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS played an integral part in the communications and public policy activities of this renown, Canadian charity.   

Third, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS became the government and public relations agent for Ottawa’s newly opened Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre – a 450-bed, long-term care facility for veterans and seniors with dementia. For almost four years, our firm supported senior executives and the Board in their challenges to attain proper government funding; positioned the Health Centre’s services within the National Capital Region’s evolving health care scene; and, promoted the new facility within the veterans’ community and the greater public. Our communications support included everything from facilitating tours and presentations for MPs and community leaders, to providing strategic counsel and wordsmith services for the on-going challenges faced by the Health Centre.

In five short years, 1994 – 1998, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS had grown in stature as a reliable and creative public relations company. With a core of five consultants, we were juggling three major accounts, a half-dozen more clients in Ottawa and Toronto, and a small network of associates. To our great satisfaction, we had survived the trials of being a start-up and were confidently fixed on our firm’s development and growth.   

 

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.

 

CG&A Communications Marks 25 Year Milestone

January 7, 2019 – Today marks 25 years since Chris George and business partner Lisa Hingley (now Lisa George) opened the doors of their government and public relations firm. Today, the couple operates CG&A Communications, providing counsel and support services for advocacy campaigns, stakeholder relations, issue management and government affairs initiatives.

The firm – www.cgacommunications.com – is a full service company, offering discreet, reliable counsel and communications services to support clients’ advocacy and public relations efforts, and their government affairs objectives. Through the years, some clients included the Council of Ministers of Education Canada (CMEC), MADD Canada, and the Ottawa Transition Board (responsible for amalgamating the City of Ottawa). In the Niagara Region, it serviced West Lincoln Memorial Hospital, local Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the Niagara Parks Commission. In the Ottawa Region, it serviced Hydro Ottawa, Commissionaires, Ottawa International Airport, and the Perley Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre. 

“We’ve had great clients, rewarding work and a lot of fun along the way,” says company president Chris George. “We never imagined back in 1994 that this business would have resulted in a lasting career. Looking back we have to express our deep gratitude to a number of terrific clients, to our network of talented consultants, and to our supportive friends and family.”

Perhaps offering a hint of their enduring success, Chris says, “Our business approach and strong work ethic has carried us through. We’re proud of our efforts, happy with our working relationships and, to this day, enjoy sitting down at our desks in the morning.”

Lisa adds, “It’s our personalized service, our attention to detail, and sweating the small stuff that separates our business from others. We have always worked hard and smart to get the results required for our clients.”  

To mark the milestone for their supporters, Chris and Lisa George have published a few lists of interesting facts:

CG&A Communications is offering a give-away of the By George Treasury (both Book I and Book 2) to those who wish to share comments on the company and its work through the years. Forward your comments to cgacomm@gmail.com with the subject line “Reflecting on CG&A Comm’s 25 years” and receive the complimentary e-book publications.

Through the month of January, CG&A Communications will be posting articles in the By George Journal celebrating the 25 year anniversary. To read more, follow this link: CG&A Comm 25 Years.

CONTACT:

Chris George – (613) 983-0801 / chrisg.george@gmail.com

Chris George provides reliable PR & GR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.