Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The PR Train Wreck Named Rob Ford

Step aside Miley, the celebrity spotlight here in Canada has shifted and the man behind it all is the infamous Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. If you have checked the news, twitter, or turned on your TV lately than you are well aware that over the past year his reputation has been quite literally going up in smoke.

From a PR perspective, it is almost impossible to argue that there has been some method to Ford's madness, as the only constant is chaos.

What are his top communications mistake to date?

1. Confession does not  equal credibility 

Especially if said confession comes a year too late. Our belief is that honesty is in fact the best policy, especially when it comes to PR. The sooner the truth comes out, the better you can prepare for it, begin damage control and move on, as well as retain trust with your audience. Most audiences don't hold you and your brand to a standard of perfection, but of respect. These are relationships we are dealing with, after all. When you make a mistake, fess up. The public can't understand what they are not told.

2. Perplexed priorities 

The logical decision in this situation would be for him to resign. At this point there is not much that he could do to save his reputation, and for the sake of the city, resigning would be the only acceptable option. But, Mr. Ford has not only declared that he will not resign, but that he will actually run again. Sounds like a selfish suicide mission to us. His role as mayor is take care of his city first, not his ego.

3. Mixed messages 

If it wasn't a given he was smoking crack, we could've suspected it by the bipolarity of his statements. It appears that every day he has a new version of the story, making it extremely difficult for anyone to give him the benefit of the doubt or for him to retain any ounce of credibility. "This is my story and I'm sticking to it" would've been a better approach for him to take, especially if that story involved the truth.

4. Refusing PR 

It  has been said that multiple PR agencies have been in and out of the Mayor's office as of late, and that he refuses PR help of any kind. Had he settled on a fitting PR agency, they could've better prepared him to deal with such a situation and perhaps shed light on the importance of honesty and his role as mayor.

Needless to say Canada sure has had it's fair share of media attention due to this issue, and the cliché "any publicity is good publicity" most certainly does not ring true. It's a shame that this scandal has brought our usually peaceful country to the forefront of the political playground.

How would you advise Mayor Ford to proceed? Do you think there is any chance of salvaging his reputation and city?

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