Master in Communications: Danelle Wettstein

It’s time for another viewpoint of the communications industry. We have loved sharing these perspectives through our CIPR Communications’ ‘Masters in Comms’ blog series.

Every week we feature a new professional that has proven to be a true Master of Communications in their respective field.

Our goal? To learn from one another! There are valuable lessons to be learned from fellow communicators – from risks they took to words of advice that motivates them to ensure their life Is full of balance.

In this week’s blog, we hear from Danelle Wettstein Communications and Marketing Advisor at Emergency Response Assistance Canada.


“Sometimes you just need one person to remind you of your own capabilities.”

- Danelle Wettstein

Q: What is the best piece of professional advice you ever received? Who provided it? 

A: The best piece of advice I received was from an instructor at Mount Royal University: she voiced that I’m a skilled, smart communicator and that if my current workplace didn’t recognize it, to find one that did. I didn’t change jobs immediately, but it encouraged me to stretch my wings, take on new challenges and eventually jump in to a better position with more responsibility. Sometimes you just need one person to remind you of your own capabilities.

Q: What is the biggest challenge and opportunity for communicators today?

A: The biggest challenge is guiding individuals through the communication planning process without their getting caught up with tactics, especially the newest and brightest; find the tools to solve the problem, and not vice versa. I think our biggest opportunity is to educate people on what we do – it’s not just sending tweets and creating brochures.

Q: What project would you consider your most significant career accomplishment to date?

A: My organization just put on its first conference – we’ve not only received overwhelmingly positive feedback, but I had an opportunity to hone my existing skills and develop new ones.

Q: What do you read to keep your brain sharp?

A:  This will probably be a different answer than most: fiction. After working in a technical field all day, novels help me relax and give my brain a break. Not to say I don’t read non-fiction but it’s mostly fiction on my shelf. Professionally, I read articles, attend networking events, and watch webinars (when I can squeeze one in) to keep up with trends in the field.

Q: Choose just one for the rest of your life while letting go of the others forever: Beer, wine, cannabis, coffee, chocolate.

A: If you know me, you know it’s wine! I have my WSET I and II; chomping at the bit to get to III.

Q: Where do you see communications five years from now?

A: I hope we see more communicators at the leadership table in organizations. Communications are essential in almost every function and can be make-or-break for organizational culture.

Q: What advice would you give to someone that’s just entering the field of communications?

A: 3 things!

  1. Find a good mentor – you can learn more from others than you’ll ever be able to on your own.

  2. Let yourself make mistakes (and learn from them) – if you always play it safe, you’ll stunt your growth as a communicator (and human).

  3. Ask questions early and often – if you take everything at face value and make assumptions, you’ll likely end up causing yourself grief and rework later.

Q: What do you know today you wish you had known when you first started your career?

A: That I’d end up in communications! I also wish I’d leaned more on my colleagues to learn basic communication strategy and skills from the beginning, instead of starting it five years in to my career.

Q: What drives you crazy?

A: When people assume they can do my job: “Anybody can write.” Good writing takes skill, and there’s much more to communications than just writing.

Q: Is it better to be perfect and late, or good and on time?

A: I think “perfect” is a pipe dream, and projects have deadlines for a reason. Though, I aspire to great work over “good.” I endeavour to under promise and over deliver.

Q: What do you love and dislike about your job?

A: I love the variety of things I get to do, feeling like I’m making a difference at all levels of the organization, and teaching others relevant skills. It’s tough proving the worth of communications and marketing – I try to balance finding those quick wins with obvious payoffs while working away at the larger projects with more concealed benefits.

Q: Who is the smartest person you know and why?

A: This is a tough question – I purposely fill my life with people who inspire me in different ways. But I’d have to go with the time-tested answer of my parents. My dad taught me about finances and succeeding in the workplace, while my mom bestowed upon me the importance of a good work ethic in every aspect of my life, and one of my favourite mottos: pick your battles. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.

So awesome, Danelle! We appreciate your perspectives on finding balance and pushing yourself towards greatness. You are doing great things at Emergency Response Assistance Canada.

If you’re interested in being a part of our blog series, send us a note.