You’re angry? So am I then!

January 26, 2009

So Minister Tony Clement is angry that crooks are using the CRTC’s no-call list as a telemarketing list, thus subverting its intent and causing endless irritation for citizens.

Good for him. People feel betrayed and they are angry, so it’s a good PR strategy to publicly show some empathy. Even if he doesn’t intend to do anything about it? You bet – especially since he doesn’t intend to do anything.

silly or apoplectic

Angry Dion: silly or apoplectic

Like Mr. Clement, Mr. Flaherty likes to get angry at people lacking civic virtues. He pulled the same trick a few months ago about banking machine fees. Then he did it again on gas prices. The anger didn’t produce any measurable results, but everybody concerned can remember that the Minister was angry, just like they were.

But good public anger needs either talent or practice. To take a clear example, Stéphane Dion never got it right. He looked either silly or apoplectic.

Some get caught up in the performance and take it way too far. When John Baird does it (nearly every day it seems), he looks sincerely enraged. He doesn’t seem to be angry with us, but at us. No empathy, just aggression.


Angry Baird: rage

Seriously, folks. When your spokesperson faces angry, distressed, exasperated or – it happens – joyful people, the very first thing to do is show she/he sincerely shares their feelings. Not to turn them into a torch-wielding mob, but to relate to them. If necessary, have him/her practice before the interviews.

A public figure showing emotion in public may seem corny and manipulative to our jaded eyes, but it helps to establish an understanding with the people you want to communicate with and allows them to hear your message. Especially if the message is only “I care”.

That works

Angry Flaherty: That works


Britain – 1 Canada – 0

June 23, 2008

Reading through the reactions (last paragraphs) to the “energy revolution” Britain is just about to announce, it’s hard not to notice how pleased the enviro groups are, compared to the reactions John Baird got for Canada’s plan and international stance.

Of course, the British plan looks a lot better. That helps. But the process leading to the plan was also very different. While the Canadian gov barely consults, the British authorities are now cashing in on a long-standing approach of engagement with the green groups and alternative energy companies. It’s still the government’s plan, but the Greenies have already bought into it.

This won’t hurt a bit

January 5, 2008

The PR arm of Environment Canada has been trying to tell us shark bites don’t hurt.

Well, not literally – but bear with me for a moment.

This from Reuters: research shows that sharks have weak jaws and can’t bite very hard. Really… But of course, the bite of large sharks can do horrifying damage because of their size and the sharpness of their teeth.

So shark bites are still something you want to avoid, weak jaw muscles or not. Right?

Still, Environment Canada thinks it can spin it the other way and make us believe size doesn’t matter. To them, it’s all about jaw muscles, or intensity.

The core of Canada’s plan to reduce greenhouse gases causing climate change (announced last year by then-Environment minister John Baird) is to force industries to get more efficient. They can produce as much stuff as they want, but they must gradually lower the amount of gases emitted for each unit of production.

Just like our shark: they say it doesn’t matter how large the bloody animal gets, because the jaw muscles are fairly weak for its size. So it won’t hurt a bit. That’s their spin.

I am not buying the spin. Nether are those guys, this one, this gentleman, Mr. Brus here, or this editorial board. Even Canwest’s good old Don Martin thinks the Environment Minister is a wimp.

To convince us all, perhaps Environment Minister Jim Prentice should demonstrate the principle of intensity reduction by swimming in a pool with a couple of hungry, large, weak-jawed sharks. There’s nothing more convincing than a demonstration.