Monday, February 28, 2005

The trucker from Surrey

There’s no doubt open-line shows matter for politicians and the PR flacks who gravitate around them. It’s an opportunity for politicians to show they like being in contact with people and they’re not afraid of a little controversy. It’s important for your boss to look good though and there’s nothing like a soft-ball question from a caller to help him along.

Unfortunately, the good folk can’t always be counted on to ask the right questions, so they have to be helped along too. In most organizations, PR practitioners arrange for supporters to call in with questions on specific themes. Prem Vinning, an aide to British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell, has a nice "do-it-yourself" approach to the problem. He called in as "Peter, a trucker from Surrey" to ask about the Premier’s plan for road transportation.

Problem: plenty of people recognized his voice (but not Premier Campbell or so he says).
Outcome: Vinning "withdrew" from his cushy job promoting commerce with Asia.

Lesson: some cheap stunts are not worth the risk, people.

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