Good, Not So Good

In which your news-loving observer highlights what caught his attention this week.

Outrage: the online bloodsport

David Gordon and Paul Lawton of Cohn & Wolfe Toronto, a PR firm, wrote a Marketing Magazine article highlighting the need to analyze patterns of outrage to manage a crisis. This outrage ignites online and is fueled by friction points that can be pre-empted if you implement the authors’ three-step plan. More importantly, they emphasize that if you pay attention to the people and groups around you and you’re smart, you can avoid problems. “The most effective crisis management strategy becomes learning the outrage mechanism, staying on top of cultural trends and avoiding public outrage altogether by understanding audiences in order to get a sense of friction points.”

How outrage culture changes rules for crisis management

Triumph over bullying and bad behaviour

The Hugo Awards are science fiction’s equivalent to the Oscars. According to a Chicago Tribune article by Gary K. Wolfe, a professor at Roosevelt University, ” this year’s Hugo Awards highlighted an ugly schism reflective of today’s culture wars.” As I understand it, a group of conservative, white sci-fi writers tried to rig the voting to the disadvantage of the more culturally diverse writers. The open-minded writers, which include George R. R. Martin, won.

Hugo Awards: Rabid Puppies defeat reflects growing diversity in science fiction

Write better. Use apps

On Medium, Bianca Bass listed five apps that can improve your writing. I installed Grammarly on my Google Chrome toolbar and so far so good. It highlights areas of improvement, which mostly confirm what I already know; which the insecure writer in me likes.

5 apps that can improve your everyday writing

Media Trump

This Globe and Mail article by Simon Houpt, which is a good read, asks more questions than it answers about how the media is handling Donald Trump:

“His appeal raises hard questions: about clickbait versus quality journalism, and whether the two are mutually exclusive; about bias and fairness; about polls; about outrage journalism; about the little-examined role that class plays in media; about journalistic integrity; about whether the media – even the media outlets that position themselves as the true voices of real people – are actually in touch with real people.”

Whatever the answers, Trump is using his notoriety to make him money, not to make him president. He knows the media loves bad news and sensationalism, so they will pile on to the next story about the sky falling.

Trump has little chance of getting more than a fringe vote and the GOP won’t think he’s so grand when it’s time to pick a viable contender who can get the votes that Romney couldn’t attract.

Perhaps the Trump benefit is that more people will vote due to the heightened news coverage and awareness. If so, the media can be credited with helping to get out the vote, even if they’re struggling with how to report on Trump.

Canadians Don’t Trust the Oil and Gas Industry

Alberta Oil Magazine’s National Survey of Energy Literacy, Public Trust and Confidence highlights that the vast majority of Canadians do not trust the companies in this industry, the government or the journalists reporting on fossil fuels. The only group that’s trusted are academics.

It’s not surprising that Canadians lack confidence in the business of oil and gas. The sector has struggled to credibly highlight the better aspects of its work and has failed to downplay what’s bad about fracking, dirty oil, etc. Additionally, the federal government has politicized oil and gas, making it easy for anyone who disagrees with Stephen Harper to be suspicious of initiatives such as the Keystone Pipeline.

During an interview on CBC Radio’s The 180, Max Fawcett, editor of Alberta Oil, said that the industry needs to do a better job telling its story. I’d add that they also need to do a better, more environmentally-friendly job of managing and producing their product. As it stands, there’s arguably a lot of truth to the criticisms about the negative impact of extracting, processing and shipping hydrocarbons.

So until the industry’s leaders determine how best to honestly reconcile the challenges inherent to the sector, their feel-good ads will seem hollow. Until they find a way to balance the good with the bad and allow their actions to speak more loudly than their words, the energy sector will continue to be seen as a necessary evil with a bad rep.

Relying on credible actions instead of hard-to-believe words is easier said than done for some. But if the sector is in fact getting better at what it does, and given its many economic benefits, it should have a compelling story to share that over time might increase public trust and confidence.