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.



Robert G. Harvie said...

His Tweets come across as somewhat pathetic.. Almost a " look at me, look at me" effort.

Makes one wonder why Ms. Redford would hire this rather amateur Toronto political wannabe. I mean, it's not like there is any shortage of moderately talented PC sycophants in Alberta.

Robert G. Harvie said...

I was sufficiently irritated that I decided to post my own thoughs.. Giving props to your blog:

What strikes me, beyond the stupidly of Baranski's effort, is the broader message that we should just look the other way as PC hangers-on use the Alberta Treasury as their personal slush fund... And the HOW DARE Danielle Smith point that out.

Anonymous said...

those in Communications and Public Relations have a tough enough time as it is deferring accusations of "Spinners". Since Redford, the Communications Team for the Premier as well as basic Minister Office staff number have near doubled. In Klein and Stelmach's time there was an average 3 staff to each minister whereas now there are 5 and 7 in the case of some ministers. It makes me sick that 1. my profession is associated with dip-$h1+s like this and 2. someone with so many freaking communications staff is still so TERRIBLE at basic public figure communication skills

Anonymous said...

Brad Trost, who is a meathead as an MP, has a great communications strategy.
He has regular and candid radio updates about what he and the conservatives are working on.

Ardvark said...

Added a link to Rob's Blog.

I posted the blog a full 24hours after the original tweet was made leaving lots of time to have said whoops and taken the tweet(s) down. The fact that neither of these things has yet happened says a lot about the mind set going on in the PC party, and by extension the gov't, right now.

Ruth Seeley said...

I'm not sure why the concept of transparency in social media is so slow to permeate the corporate and political realms. I tell clients that I will NOT tweet - or blog - on their behalf. My job is to train them to use social media effectively to meet their personal or their organization's goals, and that's no different than media training someone. I also recommend clients take a look at organizations that actually do social media well (Vodafone always lets people know who's handling their customer service account for the shift, and @CBCBooks adds the initials of who's actually sent the tweet - ID'd by full name in their bio).

So - while bearing in mind what the great statesman Disraeli said about it being easier to be critical than correct - social media essentially has little - or negative - value if it's being gamed, as the examples you've cited in this post indicate.