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.

Federal Election – Communications Do’s and Don’ts

With the federal election set for October 19th and the campaigning officially started, here are a few things for communications pros to consider.

First, be careful if you choose to align with any politician or party. You’re selling to everyone, not just people on the left or right side of the political spectrum. I once posted a political leader’s positive comment about my company’s app. It was an off-the-cuff endorsement which led to a spirited Facebook debate about the Liberals versus the Conservatives versus the NDP that I was happy to see die down.

Also avoid launching your campaign at the beginning of October through October 20, unless your marketing communications strategy plans for the election and/or a golden opportunity emerges. News outlets have fewer reporters and their limited resources will be stretched covering the candidates and election news, including a deep dive into the results the day after the winner is announced. So unless you’re selling something connected to the election, don’t expect editors or writers to care.

Now, if your product can effectively tie into the election and can give news media a consumer or business-focused perspective about what it all means to Canadians, then it might very well be worthwhile to plan to be part of the campaign news.

For instance, since the economy is the lead story for the Conservatives, Liberals and NDP, companies that are growing or selling innovative products that can be tied to any aspect of the election, may have news worth sharing.

I just saw this happen for a company I’m involved with that recently hosted a joint event with one of the federal ministries to announce a new program for Canadian Reservists. The event’s objective was to highlight job creation, which is also a focus of the government and Career Edge, where I volunteer.

Although the government tends to take the lead with these types of media events and what private companies can communicate, there are other ways to piggyback on the current election news cycle. New products made possible by government funding, export growth to the US and overseas, innovation that showcases cutting-edge technology – any story that includes compelling data, something new and a human interest angle could be the next news story that influences consumers to do more than vote.

Just make sure to plan carefully if it looks like this October is a good time to make news.

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.