By Roxanne Kropp, CPRS Student Member
Kim Van Bruggen, APR has been deeply involved in the Victoria public relations community for over 23 years. She’s the force behind Acumen Communications Group, a Victoria-based strategic communications and public relations firm that she launched in 1999. But public relations wasn’t her first career choice (mostly because she didn’t know it existed as a career!)
“I went straight into journalism because I was curious and loved asking questions and meeting people and hearing their stories,” said Kim.
She began her career at CBC Newsworld as a researcher/producer for a live national television news show and loved the daily rush of live television.
However, while a switch into the public relations field wasn’t originally what she had planned, she realized very quickly that it was exactly where she was supposed to be.
“I really believe in order to be successful in this type of job you have to have a natural inclination to be good with people, developing relationships and being calm under pressure. Those aren’t things you can teach people,” said Kim.
She’s spearheaded large and small projects across the Capital region, and grown solid relationships throughout the local government, private and non-profit sectors.
Kim is often called upon during an issue or crisis. What sets her apart as a public relations professional is her ability to work alongside the management team and decision makers of an organization to develop a strategy and guide them through a difficult period.
“What I love about the work that I do is that every day is different, there is always something challenging or complicated to work on and I love working with different clients,” said Kim. “It keeps things interesting and you gain valuable experience along the way and are able to share your hard-won experience.”
Kim’s favourite challenge is taking a complicated project or program and developing a strategic communications plan to make it happen — and that kind of drive is reflected in her personal life, too.
Her community extends beyond the public relations family of Victoria and into an equally motivated, enviably fit and tight-knit group of triathletes. Having completed her first Ironman in 2014, she’s gearing up for Challenge Penticton, a long-distance triathlon this summer. So, if she’s not in the office, there’s a good chance she’s outside with her friends and family, clocking a respectable number of kilometers across land and water.
Kim has been a Canadian Public Relations Society member since 2001, and earned her APR in 2008. She chaired the first annual Beyond the Hype, a regional day-long conference dedicated to sharing best practices and learning, and co-chaired Currents 2012, the CPRS national conference in Victoria.