Personal note: en route today from Cuenca, Ecuador to Anchorage….
|Globe & Mail. In Alberta, where the Conservatives are Progressive, Premier Jim Prentice (NGP Photo) accurately described his province’s biggest challenge in a weekend speech to his party. Alberta, he said, has to find new markets in Asia for its oil, and the only way it can do that is by redefining the province “as an environmental leader.”|
CBC. TransCanada is launching an aggressive campaign to get public support and recruit "advocates" for its Energy East pipeline. Documents obtained by Greenpeace and shared with CBC News show the energy company is using the U.S. public relations firm Edelman, the largest in the world, to promote the massive oil pipeline project. …
Edelman suggested a "campaign-style approach" and borrowing tactics from opposing environmental groups that "press their advantage" and successfully use online campaigns to leverage "large and passionate audiences that show a propensity to vote and take other political action." (See our earlier story.)
The Medium Is The Message But All Is Not Lost
Dave Harbour, APR
This CBC story likely resulted from some friend of Greenpeace leaking private company correspondence which revealed an Edleman proposal to TransCanada for a grass roots campaign to bolster support for the Energy East pipeline project.
Of course, it is like a big fundraising gift for Greenpeace, which can tell its multi-million dollar donors that corporations are engaging in a "sneaky" grass roots program to organize advocates for the Energy East Pipeline.
The leak gave environmental extremist opponents the excuse/ammunition to say their opponents are trying to manufacture support.
One can only imagine the hair raising political strategies exchanged by the various environmental advocacies, that could cripple modern society.
But then, CBC is not investigating those, and that is another story.
Sure, large companies need to organize grass roots programs. Some of the most effective ones are done with dedicated, 'in house' resources, with little public fanfare. Others require more extensive and specialized outside resources. Yes, companies can retain outside strategic and/or tactical support but — as this instance teaches — they must anticipate additional security challenges.
Canadian media master Marshall McLuhan had it right when he introduced a novel communication concept, "The medium is the message."
TransCanada and Edleman have unintentionally tripped on this precept. Instead of being able to quietly and efficiently organize messages and advocates, a leaker in their midst has provided information about a proposal which suggests that, in effect, "We are organizing grass roots advocates by spending a lot of dollars to convince you to politically support us."
This leak is a case history in – the – making that will be prominently featured in the annals of modern Public Relations challenges.
It is a classic example of the critical importance of confidentiality in this digital age.
Energy East deserves support on the merits; the merits could convey a good "message" via an effective and voluminous citizen voice "medium".
In short, TransCanada has a great chance of winning public and regulatory support by quietly and professionally engaging in low key, intense, effective communication efforts from this point on.
But now, the leak has proclaimed Edleman's relationship with TransCanada and the medium of that relationship is becoming an unhelpful TransCanada message, an unwanted corporate PR crisis.
Together, Edleman and its client have an unexpected challenge as their opponents will likely try to identify "corporate money" and "PR hacks" as the medium which they hope becomes the message.
While this leak makes messaging more difficult, a good outcome is still possible, if not likely.
Marketing the oil will benefit Canada and the entire free world. As to emissions, we know the world's consumers will obtain fossil fuels somewhere and we'd rather it come from North America than Russia or the Middle East.
TransCanada should move steadily forward, without missing a step–in spite of the fairly one-sided CBC piece.
Indeed, TransCanada should know that citizens are aware that this is an age of multi-million dollar environmental and social activism.
TransCanada should be confident that citizens also know, 1) employers create the jobs and, 2) private income and tax wealth supports civilization, and 3) that companies must defend themselves, and us, against those advocating destruction of our way of life, knowingly or unknowingly.