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Pride Toronto has changed its method of dealing with the press, bringing in a professional agency to replace the volunteer who coordinated media relations until his departure in May.

Media relations are now being handled by Joanne Smale and her company Planet 3 Communications, which usually promotes performers and shows.

Pride executive director Fatima Amarshi refused to say how much Pride was paying Smale for her services, or whether those services were being volunteered or discounted.

“The primary reason that Planet 3 is here is personal belief.”

Amarshi says the demands of the Pride festival required a professional.

“We still have a volunteer media committee. But it’s really difficult with a parade of our size to handle all the media demands with volunteers. As one of the largest Prides in the world, we really need to get the appropriate amount of attention. We have 150 acts to promote. There’s terrific stories to tell and it really takes a background in media and promotion.”

Pride has also switched TV media sponsors this year, dropping CityTV in favour of a three-year agreement with CTV.

According to an e-mail from Carolyn Fell Delamere, the manager of corporate communications for CTV’s parent company Bell Globemedia, the network will be running a 30-second ad promoting its participation in Pride and encouraging viewers to attend the parade. The ad will run from early June until parade day on Sun, Jun 25.

“CTV News Toronto will be reporting on a variety of events throughout Pride Week,” writes Delamere. “The CTV internal Pride Committee is currently working on preparations for our float in the parade.”

Delamere made no mention of plans to broadcast the parade, as CityTV did when it was a sponsor. Amarshi says she will talk to City if they’re interested in doing so again; Jenny Norush, CityTV’s director of advertising and promotions, says the station will now be treating Pride as a regular news story.

“As a sponsor of Pride, we would have gone the extra mile. But now we will cover Pride like any major event in the City Of Toronto.”