Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Well, that was careless

So today you had pretty much a text book example of one silly, careless mistake neatly derailing a carefully planned bit of public relations.

I honestly thought when I read the original press release on Jim's blog that a few people in Iqaluit (not Iqualuit as the press release says) would get annoyed. I got a laugh out of it, more than anything else. However, I never dreamed it would go national in the way it has. But I probably should have. And lord knows the Prime Minister's Office should have. Because it's always the stupid stuff that derails the most carefully laid of plans.

And let's be clear...this is a very carefully planned visit. The Prime Minister shows up in Iqaluit with a good chunk of his cabinet. He arrived on the eve of a major military exercise to firm up Canadian arctic sovereignty. Plus he makes a major commitment to the region by announcing a new agency to help with economic development which will be based in Iqaluit.

Hell, this is also apparently Harper's sixth visit to the regions since becoming Prime Minister, which is probably more times than the last two Liberal PMs combined. So all in all, this should have been a good PR day for the Prime Minister. Weeks, if not months, of preparation went into this.

And what was today's story? That the Prime Minister's office doesn't know how to spell the place he was visiting. Oh, and that "Iqaualuit" is actually a mild obscenity in Inuktitut.

Yup, so that's a good day down the drain.

I'm not going to get mortally offended by this. I'm not saying heads should roll over this, not by any stretch. What I am saying is if you ever want a text book case of last minute sloppiness ruining a careful plan, you'd be hard pressed to find a better example.

And yes, as many people have pointed out, including the PMO, this is a common mistake. It gets made all the time. Absolutely right. However, you work for the Prime Minister's Office. So no, you don't get to make those kinds of mistakes. Sorry, you get held to a higher level of quality control.

I'm a bit surprised, actually. During my previous life I've dealt with communications people with the federal government. Let's just say they have an obsessive commitment to detail to the point where it's maddening, but kind of commendable.

So yeah, someone is going to get yelled at it. Someone should, really because it was careless and preventable. And it perhaps says something about the PMO.

Or perhaps not. It's also useful to remember that it's August. It's journalism's silly season. The time of the year when little is happening so when something does, it tends to get blown out of proportion. I don't think this will have a lasting impact. But more people today will remember that typo than the big economic news. And that's bad PR, no matter how you look at it.

Last Five
1. Same ghost, every night - Wolf Parade
2. PA - Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
3. Sweet goodbye - Maroon 5
4. An cat dubh - U2
5. Waves - Metric*


Megan said...

Yeah, the federal communications people are absolutely crazy about detail. They drive me nuts.

towniebastard said...

Yeah, I know. Every one I've ever dealt with were meticulous with details. That makes this mistake all the more shocking, really.

Jordan~Stephanie said...

It's odd, don't you think?

In an age where most people communicate in slang, expletives and abbreviated texts, a mountain is made out of such a mole-hill.

On a brighter note . . . our first days in Iqaluit have been amazing. So amazing that we didn't realise the Prime Minister was even here until our copies of the on-board GLOBE AND MAIL told us so.

Oh boy.

towniebastard said...

You picked a nice time to hit town, I must say. The weather is nice and the mosquitos aren't too bad. Welcome to Iqaluit.

I know others have been helping out, but if you need anything, drop me a line and let me know. We'll see what we can do.