From an early age, France would get excited when the newspaper would arrive and she’d read it from cover to cover. “In hindsight, that should have been my first clue that I’d pursue a career in journalism.”
With a degree in History from Western, and experience writing for the university paper, The Gazette, France then embarked on a master’s degree in journalism. After she graduated, she got a lucky break and went to work for CFTO, working in the newsroom. Because she worked weekends, she had a lot more freedom to explore and suggest different story lines.
She smiles when she talks about her time with Arthur Vaille, who was an iconic figure in business news. He terrified her at first, but she soon realized that he was a marshmallow inside. “ I knew nothing about business or business news. It truly was a baptism by fire.”
But she learned. Always curious, she’d do her homework and quickly learned the ins and outs of the business. It was a high-pressure environment, as she’d have to come up with news sometimes 15 seconds before the show went on air.
In 1994 she got moved to the Dini Petty Show. At first she wasn’t sure. She was comfortable where she was, but she’s discovered that being open to new experiences, often opens new, exciting doors for you.
“I met some amazing people – some celebrities, but it was often the athlete or someone ordinary who’d done something extraordinary, that I enjoyed meeting the most.”
It soon became clear to the powers that be that France had a talent for bringing a magazine to life on television, and she worked with Chatelaine, Canadian Living, and House and Home to do just that. These shows allowed her to tap into her curiosity and creativity, always coming up with new angles and interesting story lines.
After three children, she chose to hang up her TV producer hat for a while and became the family chauffeur. “With three kids in rep hockey, I was the driver.” she explains.
What does she do today? A little of everything. Always the story teller, she now works on the other side, helping companies and entrepreneurs pitch their story or idea to the media. She tries to look at what will make your story stand out and get attention, and helps to package the pitch.
She’s also teaching at Mohawk College and loving it. Mainly she is teaching Journalism and every semester, a new course is added. “I really enjoy working with the students and learn so much from them.” she admits. “They are keeping me current too.”
That curiosity has never gone away and each day is a new one for France. Her advice to the new entrepreneur – “Stretch your courage muscle, because that can open opportunities for you that you didn’t know existed.”
And as for what to look for in a media or PR person? Make sure they resonate with you. You want someone who isn’t just doing the work for the money, but who really gets who you are and what you do.
Certainly France walks her talk because the doors are always opening for her, and she walks right through, curious and eager to take on the next challenge.