Lessons from the North: How Reporters and Communicators Are Adapting to Climate Change

The middle section of her home collapsed because permafrost beneath it is melting. A fishing ground used by her family for decades, if not centuries, is no longer accessible. Talking with this young woman from Nunavut, it quickly becomes clear that climate change is not an abstract, it is a fact of life.

Picture of Frobisher Bay, IqaluitFrom Churchill to Sudbury, from Yellowknife to Iqaluit, we at RMA have had the chance to work with some remarkable people across the north. We’ve worked with people who are, for example, studying migration patterns, doing environmental assessments for natural resource projects, flying Twin Otter aircraft or trying to solve energy, healthcare and social issues in northern and Indigenous communities. Like the woman from Iqaluit in the above example, many of these people have fascinating stories to tell.

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Are News Releases a Thing of the Past? (Part Two)

David Estok, Vice President, Communications, University of Toronto
David Estok, Vice President, Communications, University of Toronto

 

In our previous article we talked about how one of our long-term clients, the University of Toronto, stopped issuing press releases in favour of authentic storytelling. They created a content hub that looks very much like a media newsroom.

Below is a transcript of John McKay’s interview with David Estok, Vice President, Communications at the U of T as they discuss how this approach has produced results. The conversation has been lightly edited for length.

JM: How and when do you provide U of T News stories to the reporter?

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Are News Releases a Thing of the Past? (Part One)

The University of Toronto doesn’t do the news release thing anymore. They now produce real stories and use RMA to prepare their spokespersons. How do you engage with media in a post-news release world?Typewriter with the words "Press Release" on the paper

Let’s say you have a great story to tell. It’s a story that is interesting, relevant and even exciting. As with all good stories, it reveals something about you as the author or the teller. You want a lot of people to hear it.

Way back in the 1900s it was a routine practice to put your story in a news release and pay a big company to send it out to all of the relevant news outlets.

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3 Axioms of Public Speaking the Dark Artists Won’t Tell You

So much of what passes for communication training these days is focused on making you appear as something you’re not. With apologies to J.K. Rowling, we call this approach “the dark arts of communication.” Public speaking and presentation skills courses are among the biggest offenders.

An evil character practiced in the dark arts of public speakingMany people leave some of these courses feeling like they’ve just been taught how to act. Hit your mark. Make the correct gesture at the correct moment. Say your lines with great affect.

People feel uncomfortable during these public speaking courses. They will certainly feel uncomfortable afterwards when they are next asked to “perform.” They will fear that people will see them as being phony. They are probably right.

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What Might Have Been: Project Communications Part 2

In this follow-up to Economic Development Communications 101: How to Effectively Communicate Your Project to Your Audiences, we take a closer look at some of the biggest risks to project communications.

Wind turbine against clear blue skyRenewable energy projects that weren’t built. Much needed power plants that never came online. Improved food production stopped in its tracks. Vaccinations that were never administered. All of these are examples of how extremely competent subject matter experts and leaders of technical industries had the carpet yanked out from under them because of poor or absent communication and public engagement.

You can also see it at play on a smaller scale within organizations when new projects or initiatives are derailed because staff, customers, stakeholders or the public were not engaged in the process.

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Economic Development Communications 101: How To Effectively Communicate Your Project To Your Audiences

By: John McKay

National Economic Development Week logo

The art and science of economic development communications is often overlooked by the very organizations who need it most. As a communications agency with clients in all levels of government and from economic development organizations, we have gained some insights.

In celebration of International Economic Development Week, here we outline some of the top tips for those wishing to communicate clearly and effectively about economic development projects in 2018 and beyond.

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Unforced Errors

How organizations take on costly and unnecessary communications risks

Woman on a headset phoneA reporter calls Andrea at Complexity Professional Services (ComplexPS). Andrea says, “I’ll look into it and call you back before deadline.” Then she and several others scramble to put together a response.

She prepares a clear response in plain language that quickly gets bumped down into jargon and emptied of any real content during the internal approval process. Just before the reporter’s deadline, she sends an e-mail or calls the reporter to provide the empty statement and a link.

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Who do you prove yourself to be?

A tradition is only a tradition if you keep on doing it.

Mars spacecraftThe “way the world works” only works that way if everyone agrees that’s the way it does. “Playing the game” is only effective if everyone agrees that’s how the game is played.

This is all self-evident but it comes with a proviso. It is unwise to keep using the same traditions, ways and games long after the context in which they operate changes in fundamental ways.

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