Kevin Bourne CEO Shifter magazine

Kevin Bourne

CEO Embraces Pandemic

by Olivia Barrett

When the lockdown started last March, Kevin Bourne decided he wanted to come out of the pandemic better than he entered it. Bourne, 40, is the CEO of Shifter Agency, a public relations and content marketing firm that also has an arts and culture publication which focuses on Black culture.

Born and raised in Toronto, Bourne moved to Ottawa 12 years ago and noticed that Ottawa’s talent did not have the platform it needed to grow. This inspired Shifter because it gave him the opportunity to “platform people and tell their stories” and “do something that could really change Ottawa.” Bourne wanted to use Shifter to change Ottawa the way Moses Znaimer, co-founder of MuchMusic, “used the media to build up Toronto”

When Shifter started, Bourne considered himself CEO in title, as he focused on content creation for the publication. Though Shifter started as a passion project for Bourne, who co-founded the agency with his wife in 2013, it has grown into a business.

It’s content originally focused on Ottawa but has grown to include Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. He hopes Shifter will become the face of Black culture in Canada as he plans to make it “Ottawa based, but a national brand.”

Shifter has benefited from the pandemic and talk around anti-black racism because people are paying more attention. Opportunities, such as pressruns, are more accessible to the agency because of Zoom, giving them access they never had before the pandemic.

These efforts began paying off as he was invited to join the TEDx Kanata team in August 2020 and became a board member on both the Ottawa Film Office and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition. Bourne plans to launch a team in Vancouver within the next few months, the first step in building Shifter as a national brand. Contact:

Olivia Barrett is a Bachelors of Journalism and Humanities student at Carleton University. Her interests include photography and poetry which she uses to explore social justice issues and other intriguing fields. She also loves learning about history and ancient religions.  Olivia writes on social issues, well-being and out of curiosity.

Olivia Barrett
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