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.

Wind Chill! What is it?

It’s the first week of 2015 which means it’s cold in Toronto. Watching the news I hear that the temperature is minus 9 degrees Celsius; minus 18 with the wind chill.

So what the hell is the wind chill and why don’t meteorologists and weather folks just give us one number that most accurately reflects what we feel outside?

Here’s what Environment Canada says about wind chill (note that it doesn’t seem to be written by a comms pro):

Canada’s wind chill index is accurate, easy to understand and reflects the needs of Canadians. It is based on research using human volunteers and advanced computer technology, combined with recent medical advances in the understanding of how the body loses heat when exposed to cold. As a result, the wind chill observations and forecasts that you hear are now much more representative of what you actually feel.

The index is expressed in temperature-like units, the format preferred by most Canadians. By equating the outdoor conditions to an equivalent temperature with no wind, the index represents the degree of “chill” that your skin senses. For example, if the wind chill is -20 while the outside temperature is only -10ºC, it means that your face will feel as cold as if it was a calm day (no wind) with a temperature of -20ºC.

I think the above EC information highlights why we’re confused by the wind chill. If it feels like minus 20, why not just say “it’s minus 20, stay warm”? Perhaps because the colder the better, in terms of more of us checking to see how bad it is, and, you know, the increased ad revenue that comes from more viewers.

That said, I used to work at The Weather Network and I know that the meteorologists there were serious about the science of weather and giving Canadians accurate forecasts. I also remember a friend at the time questioning the wind chill factor.  I defended it then, but now I’m not so sure.

This Year’s Marketing Communications Trends

As we jump into the first month of the new year it’s a good time to look ahead at the communications work that will be a priority for the industry. It’s no surprise digital will continue to grow in importance as more marketers become comfortable with content marketing and social media and the results these channels can deliver.

Here’s a list of the communications trends I posted on the PUNCH blog.