Thursday, December 13, 2012

Communication fail. Stefan Baranski, Premier Redford's Director of Strategic Communications, shows us how it's done.

I am not a paid professional communications person but it seems to me that having a Director of Strategic Communications who selectively edits someones tweet without informing anyone they did so and then flat out lies about the original tweet being deleted after being called out on their hackery, is not exactly the best way to add credibility to either the person, their position, or the communications of the premier and the government.

Stefan Baranski. Imported from Ontario as part of Redford's doubling of her communications staff help to help spin communicate with Albertans got himself in some hot water on Wednesday evening when he posted a heavily edited tweet (without notifying anyone that it was edited) from Danielle Smith and then subsequently lied about the original tweet from Smith having been deleted.

Original tweet from Danielle Smith: (Dec 12, 2012 6:43am)
"Alberta is not a democracy, it's an oligarchy. Cooper: Redford spending spree just tip of the iceberg #ableg #wrp"

Note the linked article written by Barry Cooper in the Calgary Herald where Cooper uses the word "oligarchy" at least 2 times.

Baranski's tweet: (Dec 12, 2012 7:22pm)
"In other words Albertans: your votes didn't count. RT @ElectDanielle: Alberta is not a democracy, it's an oligarchy. #ableg #wrp #pcaa"

Note that it was posted as a "RT" (re-tweet) and not a MT (modified tweet) and of course that he purposely edited out any mention of the linked article where 'oligarchy' came from. Also note the added #pcaa hashtag to the tweet which was not there in the original.  

Now before someone claims that this is nothing more than a twitter etiquette thing that Baranski may not be familiar with; I refer you to his nearly 6000 tweets and his billing as "social media expert".  Not many social media experts or even people who have used twitter for more than a week would make such an obvious mistake; but than again this was not a simple mistake, it was a deliberate smear attempt.

Making it worse with a lie: After being called out for the obvious manipulation of Smith's original tweet he took it a step further by wrongly claiming, twice, that Smith had deleted the original tweet.

( A tweet which he had just found and edited for the smear and which is linked to above and remains on Danielle Smith's twitter account)

Dec 12, 2012 7:31pm@ireneerutema Since deleted it seems!

Dec 12, 2012 7:33pm: .@mattsolberg Why did she delete the tweet then? #oops #GetSolbergSomeCommsLessons #pointlesshashtags

You have to love the arrogance of that last tweet where he adds the 'Get Solberg Some Comms Lessons' tag to his own tweet which itself is a flat out lie made in response to his other tweet which was an edited smear attempt.

But he is a paid professional and I am a part time blogger, so what would I know about the world of professional communications, the truth, or credibility of comms people and how that effects the communications of the organizations which they serve.

Dec 15th update: Rob Harvie writes his thoughts here and makes a great point about how ridiculous the notion is that Danielle Smith doesn't believe that Alberta is a democracy having just recently gone through an election herself were she was elected MLA and became leader of the opposition. Communication fail.


Monday, December 03, 2012

Premier Redford in conflict of interest, but not for the reasons you may think.

There has been a lot already written in the media on the subject of Alison Redford and conflict of interest; but all of the stories seem to approach the issue from the exact same perspective.Whether Alison Redford's actions as Justice Minister in the tobacco litigation case were a conflict of interest and how/if those actions could benefit her ex-husband whose law firm (JSS) was chosen.

And as per usual the media missed it again.

It is not so much Redford's decision that was the problem it was that she was involved in the selection process at all. Quite simply she should have recused herself the second that she learned that JSS was involved.

A true no win situation:

We all know the kerfuffle caused by what Redford did; the optics are simply terrible and for that reason alone she should have never been involved in the process as the perception of a conflict of interest was very much real.

But what about what Redford did not do?

Imagine what could have happened had Redford perused another of her options and disqualified her ex-husbands firm? While it would eliminate the 'benefit' issue from the equation it adds another as it could be argued that she had made such a decision because of animosity towards her ex! Which is not an uncommon thing when ex-spouses are involved and it would not be a stretch to suggest that a smart group of lawyers, say JSS for example, could easily make such a case opening up the possibility of a damage suit against the Alberta Government for potentially hundreds of millions of dollars ( remember this could be worth billions to the winning firm) all because Redford could not see the obvious conflicts and stepped away from being involved in the process.

Do you think there is a judge in Canada who would ever sit in decision over an ex-spouse for something even as simple as a parking ticket?  Or if in the remote chance that something like that did happen that any such decision could ever withstand an appeal?   Not a chance.

The conflict of interest was not Redford's particular decision to award JSS the contract, although that itself is arguable, it was that she was involved in the process to begin with.  As Justice Minister, Redford's 'interests' were not merely those of herself but also those of Alberta; not only should she have voluntarily recused herself, I believe that she was obligated to do so.


A few comments on the spin notion that Redford did not make the decision to go with JSS.

Based on documents found at the CBC it is quite clear that she did make the decision and unless somebody has a reasonable explanation as to how an acceptance letter and 2 separate rejection letters were sent out to the law firms involved BEFORE the government claims that the decision as to which firm to go with was made, only those that choose not to face reality are going to buy Redford's or the governments story. It simply doesn't make sense.

They may try to parse words and try to use tight legal definitions but to say that the 'decision' was not made until the contract was signed would be the same as if the Edmonton Oilers claimed that they didn't actually draft Taylor Hall until his contract was signed. Total nonsense.