Keeping the End in Mind (Public Relations)
I recently watched an episode of The Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj and it focused on Canada specifically some of its policies and the guest was no other than Justin Trudeau. I suggest giving it a view.
In reality, my content will not focus on much of the episode but the lack of due diligence by the Prime Minister’s team to understand the messaging of the episode and how the Prime Minister would be portrayed. For me having experience in communications and some in PR (Public Relations) it confounded me that Trudeau’s team did not vet some of the messaging from the broadcast or at least understand it before it went live Not all publicity is good publicity as the episode highlighted the environment, Quebec’s secularism bill on religious symbols (legalized discrimination), and the arms deal with Saudi Arabia (support of genocide), Minhaj did not even get to step into the SNC scandal where the ethics commissioner found fault with Trudeau and his office as this news came out after Minhaj met with Trudeau. Moreover, Trudeau himself looked somewhat incompetent as he struggled to recognize world leaders which are his colleagues when you objectively think about it.
Minhaj eventually highlighted the fact that the challenger for the election Andrew Scheer and the conservative party probably are worse on every global issue and the conservative party labelled Green Peace as “violent extremists” when in power before the liberals so in regards to progressive global issues they did not have much of a stronger history. Providing all of this background I wanted to get back to the failure of Trudeau’s people in protecting him from the comedic journalism of Minhaj. This was just the Patriot Act Episode not to mention Trudeau’s India trip where he wore elaborate Indian costumes and posed. This would be much like Narendra Modi dressing up as a cowboy when he came to Canada. Not to mention the dinner invitation to the convicted terrorist and most recently the brown-face photos that were uncovered, I could continue with many more issues. Again a failure of the Prime Minister’s brand has been consistent it feels like since he got elected. Trudeau had large popularity and it seemed like he and his team could do no wrong early on and then it all started. Much of this cannot be laid at the feet of Trudeau’s PR team but what I mentioned above is almost indefensible. The PR and communication professionals I have worked with would have been adept enough to understand messaging and final products and at least been able to shield or control some narrative. It is disappointing to see the Trudeau brand which had so much promise early on after the election in 2015 but the brand was somewhat set up to disappoint as it has set incredibly high expectations. In reality, the Liberals need to gain ground now but this will be difficult as a broken brand takes time to fix and this is time that Trudeau and his team do not have.
The messaging in the Patriot Act episode was not well controlled by the Trudeau team. The diligence of Trudeau’s team in understanding the messaging was weak at best. Taking Minhaj’s obvious messaging for this episode it is surprising that nobody inquired or vetted final products before agreeing to have the episode released. In reality, repairing a brand and image will take significantly longer it would have been to protect it. The Trudeau team had many opportunities to stem the bleeding and settle things down and allow the Prime-Minister to lay low and not try to be a movie star but his advisers have failed him and the hole has become deeper. Probably a hole too big to climb out of with the constant brand-damaging stories when much of Trudeau’s teams positioning was branding him on being different than other politicians a progressive, a feminist, an ethical leader focused on environmental issues. The brand promises couldn’t be met and now the repercussions will be seen.
Fahim Moledina is the Principal Consultant for Opti-Syn Strategic Consulting and is a business leader with expertise in project/change management, finance, lean/agile methods, as well as marketing and sales.
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