Peak Communicators
October 24, 2011

PR Boost for Alberta

The changing face of Alberta’s political landscape may turn out to be the best image makeover and public relations campaign the province never thought of.

Many Canadians have viewed Alberta as red-necked and staunchly conservative and Albertans as gun-toting, beef eating, greenhouse gas producing cowboys. The media, and in particular the national media have worked to perpetuate this stereotype with stories focused on Alberta’s rebel and go-it-alone mentality.

Albertans themselves have by and large cared little about this caricature, safe in the knowing that it is generally not true. In fact Albertans often go out of their way to keep the Wild West image alive. World pictures from July of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge decked out in jeans and cowboy hats and watching wirery cowboys ride bulls, broncs and chuck wagons do little to dispel perceptions.

But the election of Nahid Nenshi, a Muslim, as Calgary’s mayor in 2010 and the recent victory by Allison Redford, a woman, to become Alberta premier are changing the way Canadians view the Wild Rose province. Recent articles in the Globe and Mail and National Post and stories on CBC, CTV and Global portray Alberta as coming out of the dark ages and getting in step with the rest of Canada.

It’s a PR campaign worth millions. After all, why would Alberta have a woman premier and its largest city a Muslim mayor if it wasn’t coming of age? Through these reports, Canadians see Alberta in a new light and these media “discoveries” of the true Alberta have been a boon to the province’s reputation as progressive and inclusive. The national media is deciding that Alberta has shed the chains of intolerance and it is becoming a great place to live.

Never mind that more than a decade ago, Calgary was the first major city in Canada to have a woman police chief and that minorities hold down some of the top jobs in the province, Alberta is finally in step with everyone else. The truth is people are finally finding out that Alberta is and always has been pretty much like the rest of the country. It’s a PR makeover that Albertans most willingly accept.

In the coming months, Albertans will face a provincial election where they will be asked to choose between the premier, who is now referred to by many as Red Redder Redford, or the right of centre Wild Rose party lead by Danielle Smith. While this image to Canadians may be progressive; two women fighting it out to lead the province, Albertans see it as a choice between two platforms regardless of whether it’s a woman or a man at the helm.

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October 18, 2011

Reputation Managers Need to Remember Their Own Public Relations

You’ve heard the old adage about the carpenter falling through his own steps. He was so busy taking care of business he didn’t take care of business at home. Reputation managers often overlook their home turf. And it is sometimes at their peril.

For example, there is no such thing as a totally private life when you are a public relations practitioner. Remember that everything you do and say can live on the internet. So if you are going to tweet and blog about a public cause or politics that may not be popular with all your clients and colleagues, remember that this can come back to bite you…hard.

Communicators and public relations practitioners deal with a wide variety of individuals and organizations as clients. They may not always share your views. It is a good idea to remain neutral and apolitical because you could very quickly pigeon hole yourself or your company as being only about one cause or one party. Simply put, this can be bad for business and make it much more difficult to pitch stories to media.

Treat yourself like a brand

As a sole practitioner, a communications manager, consultant or public relations company manager, it’s important to apply the same public relations outreach activities that you do for your clients to build your own reputation.

Look for opportunities to blog about issues. Offer to do media interviews as a communications expert to comment on how individuals or organizations have failed to tell their story in the best way possible. The media is hungry for experts in many fields and communications is a very important element of crisis management.

Look for issues to weigh in on and let the media know you have something to say and are willing to say it. You never get what you don’t ask for and this type of publicity can really draw positive attention to you as a communications consultant, your organization and your services.

If you or your company is offering a new service or have an innovative product, frame the story and offer it up to select media outlets. An ‘earned media’ news feature has much more credibility than buying an ad and can go a long way towards building reputation and profile.

New hires should always be featured in the ‘Keeping Track’ sections of daily and business newspapers with good head shot photos. Again, this is free advertising and you will be very pleased when people comment that they see your organization is progressive and growing.

When you are communicating and doing public relations for others, don’t forget to build, enhance and protect your own reputation with the same communications outreach. It can pay great dividends.

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October 6, 2011

News Release: New Poll Reveals a Shift in Riot Blame

Vancouver B.C. – October 5, 2011 – Three months after Vancouver’s hockey riot, a new poll finds respondents are placing an increasing amount of blame on the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department. The City of Vancouver’s responsibility rating increased by 16 per cent; rising from 4.9 in June to 5.7 in September. The level of blame directed at the Vancouver Police Department also increased by 16 per cent.

NRG Research Group and Peak Communicators completed 400 random telephone surveys in the City of Vancouver between September 22nd and 25th concerning the public’s beliefs on last June’s hockey riot. The same questions were repeated from a similar survey conducted a week after the riot.

Respondents rated different organizations or groups on their level of responsibility for the riot. The top five responses all related to the crowd that gathered to view the game with respondents rating responsibility for the riot from 0 to 10, with 0 “Not at all Responsible” and 10 “Totally Responsible”.

“Respondents to the phone survey were not given an opportunity to express the reason for their ratings, but we would assume these changing numbers reflect the findings of the Vancouver riot report and the ongoing news coverage that has taken place on the riots over the summer months,” says Tim Chan, Associate Vice President, NRG Research Group.

Committed agitators intending to make trouble after the hockey game were again cited as the most highly responsible for the riot (8.6 out of 10). Crowd alcohol consumption was the second highest factor (7.8 out of 10). Seven out of 10 was the responsibility rating for young people from other parts of the Lower Mainland.

The most sizable change downward in the findings saw a responsibility rating of 5.8 of 10 for curious onlookers who did not leave when trouble started. This was 5 per cent lower or 0.3 less than the findings three months ago.

In the June survey, 78 per cent of respondents believed the effect of the riot would damage Vancouver’s reputation in the rest of Canada and the world. Now, 90 days later only 68 per cent of respondents feel that way, a significant drop from June.

Results of this survey are representative of the population, plus or minus 5 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

NRG Research Group is a leading Canadian public affairs and market research company, with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Winnipeg.

Peak Communicators is the largest independent full-service PR agency in Western Canada with a specialty in media relations, communication strategy, media training and digital media.

For more information contact:

Tim Chan/Brian Owen
NRG Research Group
Ph: 604 676-5652

Ross Sullivan/Michael Lowry
Peak Communicators
Ph: 604 689-5559

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