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The Alberta Election is April 23 – Pencil it in!

In CPRS, Events, public relations, Social Media on April 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Soon you will be standing at the ballot box, pencil in hand. Soon we will know who the next premier of Alberta will be. Or will our new premier be our old premier? Only time will tell.

Many public relations practitioners are following the race closely, knowing full well the role government plays in their everyday lives. Those watching closely know this race is different than those before it: more drama, more intrigue, more rhetoric.

I had a chance to catch up with noted political pundit and author, Dr. David Taras, who holds the Ralph Klein Chair in Media Studies at Mount Royal University. I asked Dr. Taras if he thought television debates were still important in a social media world. He believes that these televised debates are more important than ever, and that there should be more than one. “It is a chance to compare leaders when they are out of their media bubbles. The camera brings a level of intimacy and, for many of us, this is the first time we get to see the leaders for any length of time.” Indeed, the 10-second media sound bite leaves a lot to be desired when trying to determine the future leader of our province.

As communicators, we talk of messaging often. So how well are our potential leaders doing on that front? Dr. Taras says Alison Redford has done a “terrible” job. “She started out in the first week apologizing and in the second week she made a series of health care proposals that drew fire from the doctors; she would have been better off to brand herself as the ‘education premier’ and then start her messaging around building schools.” As for Danielle Smith, Dr. Taras says things started out pretty well but her campaign has lost some of its steam lately. “She started out with a good news story everyday; the critics couldn’t catch up with her – it was a brilliant strategy. Then she ran out of good news announcements and the controversial stuff came out – crazy statements by candidates, issues with climate change and talk of the Alberta firewall.”

So what happens next? Well that’s up to you, you’re the one with the pencil.

 By Jeremy Berry, APR
CPRS Calgary Board Secretary