Professional Experience

About

standingatwallforwebHolly Ward is an accomplished public relations professional with 18 years of experience, including extensive work as a media spokesperson.

In 2014 she founded HWard Communications Inc., to provide a full range of strategic communications, branding, public relations and marketing services to help clients tell their brand stories to target audiences.

She has held the top communication executive positions at two major employers in Windsor, Ontario, as the Chief Communications Officer at the University of Windsor, and previously as the Director of Communications and Community Affairs at Caesars Windsor.

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Holly Ward

Having enjoyed a rewarding career in corporate communications and public affairs, Holly Ward develops branding and communication strategies to heighten the public profiles of a diverse range of clients in healthcare, retail, post-secondary education, children’s rehabilitation services, community-based non-profits and professional firms who vary in size from three employees up to 1,000.


2014 to present        HWard Communications Inc.    Windsor, On

President

Provides strategic communication planning and graphic design services to a variety of clients locally, in Toronto, Ontario and in the Detroit, Michigan area. Services include graphic design, branding development and implementation, marketing campaigns, internal communications, website content, video and radio scripts, corporate writing and editing, social media campaigns, media relations and crisis communications assistance.


2010 to 2014        University of Windsor    Windsor, On

Chief Communications Officer

Responsible for all public relations activities, marketing, alumni affairs and donor communications for this mid-sized university with 16,000 students. Advised the President on media relations and campus communication issues including crisis communications. Supported the President with key messaging, and planned and executed town hall meetings with accompanying visual presentations. Additional responsibilities included, media spokesperson, executive editor for VIEW magazine reaching 60,000 alumni, communications support for the executive team, and leading the two departments of Public Affairs and Communications, and Alumni Affairs and Donor Communications.

Performance Highlights:

  • Successfully aligned the public relations and marketing activities with the University’s strategic plan and recruitment efforts resulting in a six percent increase in the number of student applicants, topping the provincial average of two percent.
  • Launched a new logo for the university using internal resources at a minimal cost of only $14,000. Conducted focus groups with various audiences and planned and executed a creative multi-media launch that resulted in an overwhelming positive reaction from the widespread community, alumni and the media. Bookstore sales of new branded merchandise increased dramatically. New enrolment marketing advertisements highlight the logo for greater exposure.
  • Created an award-winning Public Relations campaign called “Are You Proud?” to cultivate story ideas that were aligned with the five priorities of the University’s strategic plan, and generate a greater media presence to increase the University’s profile. Supported by internal and external marketing, the campaign produced numerous leads, attracting the attention of an international higher education magazine Currents and won a Bronze Accolades Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.
  • Planned and directed a public relations and marketing campaign to celebrate the University’s 50th Anniversary. Leading a 20-person committee: created a regional and national advertising campaign; implemented campus-wide branding; secured more than $300,000 in sponsorships; produced a commemorative photo book with proceeds donated to scholarships; scheduled an exciting roster of weekend alumni activities; launched a retrospective video documentary provided by a sponsor; planned a fall festival for students and several other campus engagement activities.
  • Created greater awareness for campus developments with comprehensive public relations and marketing strategies for events such as: the celebration of the 100,000th graduate; the grand opening of the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation; the development and launch of a new mobile app; the rollout of the Campus Transformation Plan and the Campus Master Plan; the acquisition of the downtown campus buildings and open houses; and promotion of the new Welcome Centre and Innovation Centre.

2004 to 2010        Caesars Windsor (formerly Casino Windsor)    Windsor, On

Director, Communications and Community Affairs

Provided a senior leadership role for setting the direction and development of all external and internal communication messages and products. Additional responsibilities included, media spokesperson, facilitating the Caesars Windsor Corporate Giving program and providing the executive team with speeches and visual presentations.

Performance Highlights:

  • Organized public affairs activities and created media interest for major corporate events such as: the grand opening of Caesars Windsor which included the 5,000-seat Colosseum, a new hotel tower and convention centre; the provincial announcement to spend $430 million to renovate and expand the property and the branding agreement to rename the facility Caesars Windsor. Generated more than $1 million worth of earned media coverage for the new amenities and the Caesars brand.
  • Successfully designed and implemented an internal communication strategy to launch the Caesars brand for 4,000 employees. These efforts created an engaged workforce, which improved the overall results on subsequent customer satisfaction surveys.
  • Redesigned all internal communication vehicles to support the Caesars brand, producing greater work efficiencies, reducing costs and ultimately creating more attractive and useful products.
  • Restructured the Caesars Windsor Corporate Giving program by introducing an on-line application form, establishing a targeted focus on themed sponsorship projects and streamlined administrative practices. Aligned several corporate giving initiatives with marketing events for greater media exposure and a broader community reach.
  • Maintained a positive corporate image as spokesperson in various crisis situations, including when the facility was forced to close during a 41-day strike and also during a six-day power outage. Crafted and delivered difficult external and internal messages during various layoffs.
  • Identified as an industry expert in the field of internal communications. Presented a session on ‘Internal Branding’ during the 2009 Canadian Gaming Summit explaining the employee engagement strategy used to launch the Caesars brand. Also presented a workshop on effectively reaching employees during the 2004 Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas and published a related article in Global Gaming Business magazine.

1999 to 2004        Casino Windsor         Windsor, On

Manager, Corporate Communications

  • Wrote a keynote presentation for the president and CEO, which was delivered several times based on high demand and later copyrighted and used as a business case study at the University of Regina. Also provided creative expertise to the chairman and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for company presentations.
  • Honoured with a Silver Quill award from the International Association of Business Communicators for the strategic media launch of the Casino Windsor Cares corporate donations program. This successful launch resulted in similar ‘Cares’ programs at other Ontario casinos.
  • Introduced a quarterly, mailed-home employee newsletter, strategically positioned as a tool to promote the corporation to staff and their families and to increase the company’s profile in the community.
  • Played a key role in the design, content and launch of the company’s intranet, improving workforce efficiency and delivery of communication products and human resource materials.
  • Implemented an employee television channel as a new medium to communicate with staff through corporate videos and billboard-style messages in break rooms and busy hallways.

1998 to 1999        Faith Today Magazine         Markham, On

Editorial Assistant

Provided editorial research, writing and administrative support for this national bi-monthly magazine, circulation 35,000. Served as editor for departmental pages, provided copyediting, wrote press releases and helped develop editorial calendars.


1997 to 1998        DaimlerChrysler Canada         Windsor, On

Technical Writer

As a member of the QS-9000 Implementation Team, created procedural documentation to meet ISO quality standards.


1996 to 1998        Ross Roy Communications         Windsor, On

Freelance Reporter and Editor

Developed editorial plans and reported on news and human-interest features for The Chrysler Times, a national employee newsletter.

Education:

Graphic Design Diploma
Specs Howard School of Media Arts, 2016

Master of Arts: Journalism
University of Western Ontario, 1996

Bachelor of Arts: Honours, English and Communication Studies
University of Windsor Ontario, 1995

Professional Awards:

2017 Professional of the Year, Business Excellence Awards
Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce

International Association for Business Communicators
Silver Anvil Award

Council for Advancement and Support of Education
Bronze Accolades Award