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 »

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 »

Attack Ad Overload: What if political parties tried something different?

Advertising, Political Communication No Comments »

As I prepared to sit on a panel on CTV News Channel’s PowerPlay, I was asked by a producer what kind of advertising strategy I would recommend for the major political parties. We both agreed that the personal, negative attack ads of both the Conservatives and Liberals are tired, divisive and utterly lacking in creativity. We’re sick of them and the election hasn’t even been called yet. What’s worst, the ads all essentially look and sound the same: scary music, unflattering images of the other party’s leader, rapid-fire editing of unrelated images and quotes taken out of context. Ho hum.

I have to admit, I didn’t have an answer for her at that moment. I’ve thought it over since then and have something to propose: a new advertising strategy for the next federal election that just might serve to inform, engage and empower voters. 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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Switching Podiums: Proroguing Parliament

Political Communication, PR No Comments »

On the level of PR and political strategy, the Conservative government’s move to prorogue Parliament (again) seems to make sense. After all, when a competing voice is starting to break through and score some points with voters, why wouldn’t you want to take away their podium? If you can’t beat them on the level of messages (hard to do when your messages keep changing) and you can’t discredit them (they tried with diplomat Richard Colvin), you’re left with one final and unsavory option: silence the opponent. Strategic in the short-term, yes, but will it work in the longer term? It depends… Read the rest of this entry »

Promoting the Conservative Economic Plan: Ethical or not?

Advertising, Political Communication No Comments »

Much coverage in the media of late over the impossible-to-miss ad campaign funded by taxpayers to promote the Conservative’s economic recovery plan. There’s concern that the government is spending more to toot its horn than to inform us about H1N1. The Liberals have joined the protest and are promising to do better. So, is the campaign strategic? Is it any good? Is it ethical? Read the rest of this entry »

Crisis in Parliament: Not quite the show we expected

Political Communication, PR 1 Comment »

I’ll be honest: as a political junkie and a fan of political theatre, I was all set for tonight. I tuned in for the pre-event shows, watched the clock closely while I ate dinner and settled down for a historic display of political communication right at 7 p.m. To call what followed anti-climactic would be generous. Read the rest of this entry »

Obama Goes to Washington: Look! Up in the air! It’s Supersign!

Advertising, Political Communication No Comments »

Anybody who works in the communications business can’t help but stand in awe of the historic and sweeping campaign that unfolded over the last 18 months or so. Like a crowd watching one of those incredible Chinese circus balancing acts, we stare, shake our head, blink a time or two, and try to figure out what exactly just happened. How did he do that? Read the rest of this entry »

Final Thoughts on the Federal Election: More image than ever

Political Communication, PR No Comments »

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I think elections in this country are increasingly about the image conveyed by party leaders than they are about the differences in the policies they propose. No surprise there, I know, but this election set a new standard for focus on image. This was the case for at least three interesting reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

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