Mulcair fails Media Relations 101
Aug 2, 2015

Mulcair fails Media Relations 101

Today was election campaign launch day in Canada. Well I suppose that really happened a year or so ago, but today was the official launch, when the official rules kick in, at any rate. All the parties want one main thing out of these launches, to say a few positive things in their opening declaration that gets picked up by the media and gives them a round of free, positive advertising.

Mulcair, however, fumbled badly. He gave his speech, the media was there, but his mistake was that he pissed the media off by not answering any questions. This result in the media mainly writing stories about how he didn't answer questions, and completely ignore what he actually said:

CBC: Tom Mulcair takes heat online for not taking questions at first campaign event
Torstar: NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair takes no questions at campaign launch
Huffpo: Mulcair Takes Zero Questions From Reporters At Campaign Launch

And so forth. What they wanted was glowing articles covering their policy framing, like Trudeau got.

The lesson to be learned here is a simple one: don't piss off the media. None of them want to be out there on the sunday of a long weekend, but they are there because they have to cover your speech. So don't piss them off. Mulcair most likely didn't want to take questions because he wanted to be the person who got to frame the issues, not the media questions. What he got was the "Mulcair doesn't answer questions" frame.

The irony is that Harper is absolutely horrible at media access and has been for a long time. Mulcair is far, far better at this. And denying the media here doesn't represent some affront to democracy the way Harper's continued actions do. But because he pissed the media off, it wasn't presented this way.

Thankfully, it is a long campaign. A ridiculous long campaign designed to help the Conservatives and their larger war chest. Mulcair gets to try again on tuesday.

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