Advertising, PR and the Stephen Harper Brand

Advertising, Political Communication, PR No Comments »

Many people have written about the PR lessons learned from the manner in which the Conservative government of Stephen Harper has handled the Senate scandal. Clearly, many mistakes were made. It occurred to me, though, that the events of the past three months have also created an opportunity to better understand advertising, branding, and public relations: three concepts that are often misunderstood or even used interchangeably. They’re vastly different and often, as in this case, interwoven in complex ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Best and Worst PR for 2012

Political Communication, PR 1 Comment »

Once again, this year, I spent the last week of December reflecting on the year that was in public relations, persuasion and politics. I’ve compiled a very subjective list of what I feel were the best PR practices of 2012 and the worst. I’ve also tried to keep a Canadian focus on the companies and people I profile, if for no other reason than to narrow down the very long list of examples of very good and very bad PR practices. Read the rest of this entry »

Toews, vikileaks and robocalls: The difference between pushing messages and public relations

Political Communication, PR 1 Comment »

After 27 years in PR, I have to admit there is a certain rush that comes with successfully getting a message out. Pushing words, sounds and images to an audience and seeing your efforts generate impact among that audience seems like magic at times. As modern technology makes it easier and faster to push messages and achieve that rush, the risk of making significant mistakes that cause long-term damage grows. Recent events in Canadian politics have made this point all too clear. Read the rest of this entry »

PR in Canada 2011: The Best and the Worst

Advertising, Political Communication, PR No Comments »

As I look back at 2011 in Canada, a number of public relations highs and lows come to mind. Among those, there was a clear winner of the best public relations effort of the year and, yes, one effort that clearly stood out as the worst. There are also, of course, a number of runners up who made 2011 an interesting year filled with PR lessons. Read the rest of this entry »

Herman Cain, Rob Ford and Kanye West: Negative Momentum in PR

Political Communication, PR 1 Comment »

Herman Cain and Rob Ford have both experienced weeks of PR misery in recent months. During these times, each new story seemed to pile upon the others. They experienced the negative momentum that so often happens in media coverage. Kanye West has had his share of negative momentum but was able to put an end to his. In the process, he offered two important lessons for PR practitioners. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to brand nation: On RIM, Apple and leadership

Advertising, PR No Comments »

By now, it has been widely recognized that the co-CEOs of Research in Motion received bad PR advice and mishandled the four-day outage of services by essentially hiding from the news media and from consumers for too long. In a pattern we have seen in other CEOs, they failed to get on top of the coverage wave and got swamped by it instead.

That’s not what this posting is about, however. Rather, what struck me about the four-day outage and the response of BlackBerry users around the world, was how it revealed that the relationship between consumers and brands has evolved in very important ways. When CEOs fail to grasp the nature of this new relationship, trouble ensues. Read the rest of this entry »

The Surprising NDP Surge: Image and control in Election 41

Advertising, Political Communication, PR 3 Comments »

If the first week of this campaign was all about the “reckless coalition,” the last week is all about the “NDP surge.” That the NDP should be solidly in second place and, according to some, closing the gap on the leading Conservatives is certainly surprising. Yet the reasons for this boost in popularity are clear and have, it seems to me, at least as much to do with image as with policy. Read the rest of this entry »

Response to flooding in Pakistan: What Lasswell understood 75 years ago

PR No Comments »

I have watched with sorrow the reaction of governments and individual donors in Canada to the flooding in Pakistan. I have wondered too why there has been such a big difference in the response of Canadians to this natural disaster as compared to the response to the earthquakes in Haiti. I agree with those who say the difference stems from donor fatigue, an economic downturn and the suddenness of earthquakes as compared to the slow relentless impact of a flood. But I also think that the image of Pakistan is at play here, as compared to the image of Haiti. As I tried to sort this out in my mind, I kept coming back to a brilliant book by Harold D. Lasswell written in 1935 but still just as relevant and insightful today. Read the rest of this entry »

Information is oxygen for a democracy: Gasp!

Political Communication, PR No Comments »

It’s an old-fashioned idea, I’ll admit. Elected officials weigh their options when it comes to policies, laws and taxes. They consult with the public and with experts of all kinds. They debate in an open, public forum. On the basis of all this, they pass laws in the best interest of the people they serve. There’s even a role for communicators in all of this. Governments turn to communicators to help the public understand the process they used to arrive at a decision and the wisdom of that decision. As I look around my city, my province and my country, of late, it seems these old-fashioned ideas are being increasingly ignored.

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“Oh bother:” Reducing the burden for audiences

Advertising, PR No Comments »

We are all, I imagine, like Pooh Bear these days. We bounce around the forest with so much to do (find honey, eat honey, nap), so many people to keep in touch with (Roo, Tigger, etc.), and so many places to explore in the 100 acre wood. When we happen across one more piece of information we have to pay attention to, decode and process, we simply sigh and say “oh bother.” In this kind of environment, why is it that so many communicators still insist on making it harder — not easier — to engage the messages they send? Read the rest of this entry »

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