This was a remarkable year in Canadian public relations, filled with big disappointments and a few surprises. Most importantly, we had important lessons in strategic public relations that all of us could glean. Here, then, are the key lessons that I took away and the people and stories that brought them to us.
The past week was, at once, a great week and a very risky one for BlackBerry.
On the one hand, the launch of their new Passport smart phone went off without a hitch and generated a good amount of positive press. To add to the good news, the new partnership with manufacturer Foxconn is greatly reducing the financial risk of launching new phones for BlackBerry. If sales disappoint and if there is stock left over, Foxconn will absorb some of the cost.
On the other hand, there remains great public relations risk to BlackBerry’s reputation among customers and shareholders. No matter what the partnership agreement with Foxconn stipulates in terms of financial risks, BlackBerry is once again creating a “do or die” moment for itself. Read the rest of this entry »
Lisa Kovitz of the Edelman PR firm wrote a blog post the day after the news broke that Robin Williams had committed suicide. In it, she correctly pointed out that negative events like the sad death of a celebrity can create opportunities for “a national dialogue.” The blog generated a good deal of negative feedback from people who felt the author was exploiting the actor and comedian’s passing to generate new business. The negative feedback then generated some negative media coverage for Edelman. The situation offers important lessons for PR practitioners. Read the rest of this entry »
I settled in for yet another political debate, filled with hopes and worries. The candidates – Tim Hudak, Kathleen Wynne and Andrea Horwath – all delivered on both counts. It was often entertaining and each candidate managed some important hits and misses. Read the rest of this entry »
There has been much discussion in the news media and in PR circles of late about the need for organization leaders to apologize sincerely, profusely and immediately whenever a crisis arises. I myself participated in some of that dialogue and stand by what I said about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the CEO of Montreal Main and Atlantic Railway, as well as many others on my blog, in my tweets and during media interviews.
Now, in the wake of much praise for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his two-hour apology tour de force, I’m beginning to wonder if the practice of public relations is now being reduced to the art of a really good and really fast apology. Certainly, in the way that I practice PR and the way that I teach it, PR is much more than apologizing. Read the rest of this entry »
My earlier post summed up what I believe to be the very best in public relations in the past year. This follow-up post looks at the dark side of Canadian PR: organizations and individuals who suffered through 2013 and offered important lessons in the process. Once again, I consider PR in government, business and entertainment.
This was an interesting year in Canadian PR, with plenty of lessons to be learned from those who did PR right and those who didn’t. I’ll start by heaping praise on those organizations and individuals – in government, business and the entertainment and cultural industries – who, in my humble opinion, represent the very best of PR in 2013. In my next post, I’ll review those whose performance left something to be desired. Read the rest of this entry »
Toronto Mayor Robert Ford did some terrible things. He smoked crack, drank heavily in public, cavorted with shady characters, and lied to reporters and voters repeatedly about it all. And yet, to the surprise of many, he is still immensely popular. The rules of politics and public relations don’t appear to apply to him. That enduring popularity is what I would like to speculate on with this post. Read the rest of this entry »
It seems The Montreal, Main and Atlantic Railway is trying to improve its PR performance on the Lac-Mégantic tragedy. Some things the company did today were a marked improvement. Burkhardt actually showed up at the site of the derailment and inferno. He spoke frankly and directly with reporters, rather than relying on telephone. He anticipated and effectively answered many of the questions thrown at him. That was a step forward, though one taken too late, as many of his critics have pointed out.
Other aspects of the day did not go so well. Read the rest of this entry »
Recent and very sad events in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec will have many important lessons for railway operators, government regulators, and municipal planners. I suspect the shipping of oil by rail in Canada will never be quite the same. In addition, there will be less important but nonetheless valuable lessons for public relations professionals as well. Many mistakes have been made by executives and politicians alike in their early response to the tragedy. Read the rest of this entry »