Public Relations for the Greater Good

You can buy all the advertising you want in all its digital and traditional versions. But nothing beats the immediacy and staying power of a compelling news story.

Kathryn Borel, my new hero, slammed Jian Ghomeshi by confirming his abusiveness and winning the day for all his victims and everyone who believed them. She took his apology and, within the parameters of the peace bond, delivered a clear message about the rightly disgraced, former CBC star.

Her brilliantly brave decision to read her letter to a captive audience of reporters enabled Borel to turn Ghomeshi’s apology against him by highlighting exactly what everyone feared, suspected, denied, doubted or shrugged off.

Now there’s proof about the quality of the man.

Another well-coordinated bit of PR for the much greater good was The Hollywood Reporter piece by Ronan Farrow. With his father, Woody Allen, about to bask in the glory of the Cannes Film Festival, Farrow’s guest column dropped and effectively focused headlines on concern about Allen’s dark side.

Talk about stealing thunder and trumping a powerful PR machine with a better PR move! Who says all public relations is bad.

All this to say, these two stories benefitted from a timeliness that used the news media and public’s interest in Ghomeshi and Allen to turn the story against them. They also benefitted, in my opinion, from having the truth on their side.

Good for them.


Pope Francis, Pontiff of Communications

Two years ago I remember reading an article about Pope Francis receiving a call from Italy’s leading atheist, Eugenio Scalfari, co-founder and former editor of La Repubblica. Mr Scalfari had apparently asked for an interview and the Pope called him back himself.

The same article highlighted the Pontiff’s focus on helping the poor, the elderly and children. Simple messages that should resonate with anyone, including famous atheists.

Fast forward to 2015 and the leader of the Catholic Church is hugely popular, as seen during his visit to the US last week. Why so popular? Well, as outlined in this article by PR pro, Careen Winters, it boils down to three things:

  1. Stay close to the front line
  2. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room
  3. A positive message elicits a positive reaction

Simple but true.