For those of you who don’t know me, I normally blog over here. ES gave some very kind introductory words about me here and here. I will endeavor to make sure those are not the last kind things he has to say about me.
In those comments he mentions I am the Executive Director of the WAP; well that was true…until the day he left. In the interest of being completely open, I will share with you that I am now the Director of Operations. I still do all the fun things as before, plus some. One of my new tasks is constituency development. A quick look at our calendar will reveal just why I have not had time to blog regularly. As such, this will be more of a recap of the past week.
Last week I had the pleasure of speaking to Jim Campbell, Executive Director of the Alberta PC’s. I was asking him about observers attending their convention this past weekend. I was surprised to learn that they don’t allow this and never have. They had already refused requests from the Libs and NDP; and now the WAP.
I found this a bit odd. In June this year when we (the WAP) held our AGM we allowed both academic and political observers; including the leader and president of another party. Just last month I was welcomed as an observer at another political party’s AGM. In both situations members of other parties were allowed to sit in on all events of the day; including policy formation.
Whether it’s the results of elected positions or policy passed at AGM’s; they will be reported either in the media or via party members’ blogs. It would seem to me the more open and transparent you make the process; the more likely you will achieve accurate and consistent messaging.
During the convention though it appears political observers from other parties are not the only group they blocked out; the media was also subjected to the brush off.
On the Friday Don Braid Tweeted
“Tories are pouring in; media are poured into a tiny room - no power bars, just 8 chairs.”Then three hours later;
“We now have 10 chairs and two tables; media gulag improving.”By Saturday;
“Tories now have 19 reporters stuffed into a broom closet. We expect the air to be sucked out shortly.”
And if that was not enough the Premier himself had this to say of the media;
“This is the biggest challenge we're facing as a government. I really do feel that the policies we have are the right ones for Alberta, but it's difficult to get it through the present media that's available to us."Huh, say again? You stuff them into a tiny, ill equipped room, ban them from being present when the results are announced, change your mind at that last possible moment; and then claim it's their fault that they are not available to you???
Rob Breakenridge delivers an excellent summation of this stance of blaming the media.
While the current government is not communicating very well with Albertans, the media is the last group that should be taking any heat for this. They (the government) are now trying unique ways to getting their message out; I predict that this will still ultimately fail. Here's why.
Communication is not just about being able to craft a message and deliver it to the masses. The key to communication is listening. Successful relationships; be they personal, business or even adversarial negotiations; are built by listening and understanding. Through that one can mirror their responses (messaging / policy) to reflect the needs of the other. If you fail to listen (in this case to Albertans); you will always fail in developing your policy and delivering your message.
Few governments and politicians have figured this out; but those who do will be successful and their message will be spread quickly and efficiently. After all, isn’t that all we really want at the end of day; to know we have been heard and understood; to know we are not being ignored and will not be taken for granted.