Unscripted. Unstaged. Kathleen Bourchier.Unscripted. Unstaged. is an interview series from Laura Murray Public Relations that speaks with fascinating artists, advocates, administrators, and other individuals who keep the Canadian artistic community visible, viable, and vibrant. This week we spoke with Kathleen Bourchier, a highly-respected, senior communications professional and a dedicated volunteer and arts advocate who sits on multiple organization boards.
Q: Let’s say we run into each other at a party – how would you introduce yourself?
Like everything in life, that depends on context. If I met you at a Cultch event, I would introduce myself as a long-time Board member of the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. If I met you at a Vancouver International Children’s Festival event, I would introduce myself as a Board member dedicated to helping the festival continue to delight future generations. If I met you at a corporate reception, I would introduce myself as a career communicator who worked for 26 years with Alcan in a number of management capacities, as a senior consultant with Optimum Public Relations and later Vice President and General Manager for another eight years. And I would let you know that, now, I am consulting independently and would love your business!
Q: If we checked your nightstand, what books would we find you reading right now?
Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson
Q: If we checked your computer, what favourite sites would be bookmarked?
My Family Site (I am very fortunate to come from a very big, very loving family); Facebook; Linkedin; YouTube; My Daily Recipes; HuffPost; Personal Banking Services; and a site created by a dear cousin of mine called “Proud to be a Bourchier.” With the spelling of our name, we used to think we were quite exclusive; with Jerome’s creation of this site, Bourchiers are crawling out of the woodwork all over the world. Who knew? Such fun!
Q: How did you come to do what you do – was there a defining moment you can tell us about?
When I was a kid, I had two talents: writing and art. I was an Airforce brat, growing up on airbases and there wasn’t much money for or expectation of university education. When the forces amalgamated when my Dad was 50 and offered early retirement (we were in Comox then), he was offered an opportunity with Eurocan in Kitimat. So the family folded camp and moved north. I was 18 at the time, with a year of Fine Arts at UVic under my belt … but I so missed my family …three brothers, a sister, and a fine set of parents … that I welcomed the chance to help them relocate. I found my first job in Kitimat as a receptionist in a dental office. Apparently, I was rather good at it as my employer offered to pay my way through university to become a dentist. But I really didn’t think I wanted to spend my life peering into peoples’ mouths. When I was 25, still toiling at the dental office, my younger brother Christopher was killed in a car accident on the Prince Rupert highway. Well, I won’t even go there … but people younger than us are not supposed to die before we do. My family was devastated. And, for me, it was a major wake-up call about making more of my life than working for a dentist. An opportunity arose at Alcan’s smelter for a reporter/photographer for its employee publication. I went for it, got it, and turned this little northern corporate publication into an international award winner because of those two modest talents I had as a kid … writing and art. (And, perhaps, a little vision … but that sounds arrogant.)
Q: When it comes to marketing, is there a particular campaign or a poster, advertisement, or promotion that made a significant impact or that stands out in your mind?
For sure. I’m not really a marketer; I deal more with corporate communications strategy. But when I moved from Alcan to Optimum, I had to learn marketing. The campaign that I engineered and that I am very proud of was “Chev and the City” as Chevrolet introduced eight new models to the market. We partnered with a polling company, just as hand-held devices were coming into vogue. In Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, we went to where young people gather and we gave them the devices to punch in very simple choices, like wine: red or white? Bennifer or Brangelina? We had a number of categories and the brilliant thing was that responses in the various cities ran counter to their reputations, providing us with great fodder for the releases I wrote and issued every Monday.
Q: Lastly, what inspires you?
Young people inspire me. My son and his friends are brilliant. Yes, I know I’m lucky. I love these kids so much and, dare I say, they might be more responsible than we ever were.