Friday, June 25, 2010

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - WHAT WILL THEY THINK OF NEXT?

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Here’s an idea: instead of polluting oceans with more of our junk, why not take the junk that’s already in the oceans and recycle it? That’s the inspiration behind an innovative and ambitious marketing/PR effort by Sweden-based Electrolux Group, which this week announced plans to start scooping plastic waste up from oceans around the world and recycle it to make—appropriately enough—vacuum cleaners. According to Electrolux, who we’re assuming bases the claim on scientific evidence, the world’s oceans are plagued by so-called plastic gyres: great swirls of man-made flotsam that form thanks to ocean currents. The one in the Pacific, according to the company, is estimated to be the size of Texas. So Electolux’s plan is not only to reduce those gyres, but also to help stop the inflow of plastics that created them. Smart. And the campaign is backed up by a Facebook page, and a website that encourages people to get involved, either by sharing their stories of cleaning up or by getting involved in any number of environmental groups who want to remediate the oceanscape. I could quibble with the rather low-key execution of some of the elements (Vac from the Sea was picked up by the usual tech and green publications when it was announced), but given the worldwide focus on another environmental (and PR) disaster affecting a major body of water, the timing of Electrolux’s initiative was perfect. And there is plenty of room for it to grow in visibility as it takes shape. As the saying goes, in crisis lies opportunity—especially when it’s someone else’s crisis.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - LES BLEUS' BLUES

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Typically in this space we like to discuss the subtle nuances of communications strategy and tactics. Often, our calls on the communications plays of the week are matters of opinion, based though they are on our unique expertise and experience. This entry, however, is not among those debatable points—because it ranks among those rare cock-ups that are true communications disasters. We speak, of course, of the French debacle at the World Cup. What is with these gars? First, player Nicolas Anelka criticized (or verbally abused—take your pick) coach Raymond Domenech in the dressing room, for which sin the French Football Federation suspended the striker, after which the captain of the team, Patrice Evra, said the problem wasn’t just France’s dismal play or Mr. Anelka’s temper but rather the “traitor” who leaked the argument to the media. After which the players boycotted a practice session. After which Mr. Domenech called his own team a bunch of imbeciles (a word that sounds even nastier in French). After which les Bleus went on to a winless World Cup, losing their final (meaningless) match to South Africa. After which Mr. Domenech, who appears to be one of those characters you would love to sympathize with if only he weren’t so personally disagreeable, refused to shake hands with the South African coach. The affair is so rife with errors, bad ideas and loose lips that it’s hard to place blame for it, because the whole thing seems so, well, imbecilic. Was nobody in charge of the message? Did nobody think to have a measured and reasoned response to the charges against the coach or the football federation? Mais non. The lack of discipline on the team was mirrored by a lack of discipline in the media strategy (I use the term loosely). Highly entertaining, but at the expense of the reputation of an entire country. For somehow managing to make Italy (also booted from the Cup) look downright stoic, France’s Grand Guignol show in South Africa deserves a special citation. Fumble, or a Red Card, to les Bleus.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - CSIS BOSS DROPS BOMBSHELL THEN RUNS

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Richard Fadden is Canada’s top spy. The Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) gave a lengthy interview with CBC’s “The National” this week, and it turned out to be a blockbuster. To be fair, Fadden handled himself very well during the course of his 26-minute sit-down with Peter Mansbridge (kudos to him and chief correspondent Brian Stewart, who did the accompanying CSIS documentary reports), skillfully fielding questions about sensitive security matters and using them as opportunities to articulate some clear CSIS messages about the threats today’s world presents and the job the agency is doing to protect Canada. But it was his contention that some elected representatives are under the direct sway of potentially hostile foreign governments that sent shockwaves across the country. "There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government," Fadden said. He didn’t specify which countries or which politicians, but he pointed clearly to China and elsewhere referenced the Middle East. Fadden went on to say that CSIS was in discussions with “the centre” – which he clarified as meaning “the Privy Council Office – the Prime Minister’s department” about what to do about it. That was met with denials from Ottawa (in addition to one from B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell) of any knowledge of CSIS’ concerns on this front. Fadden was clear in the Mansbridge interview as to why he would say what he said: “am making this comment because I think it's a real danger that people be totally oblivious to this kind of issue." The next day, Fadden issued a statement reversing that, saying “(CSIS) has been investigating and reporting on such threats for many years. Foreign interference is a common occurrence in many countries around the world and has been for decades. I have not apprised the Privy Council Office of the cases I mentioned in the interview on CBC. At this point, CSIS has not deemed the cases to be of sufficient concern to bring them to the attention of provincial authorities.” The contradiction is stunning, and its impact has many calling for Fadden to further clarify or to resign. If he was deliberately – and strategically – using the CBC interview to sound an alarm that had been ignored in the halls of power, I would have given Fadden a Touchdown for skillfully using a media interview to have his message heard far and wide. But this has played out so sloppily – and his real goal is so unclear – that I’m afraid it’s a Fumble.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - MCCHRYSTAL SHOOTS HIMSELF IN THE CAREER

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Oh so many times we have seen cases like this, but rarely with a seasoned media communicator, not to mention the staffers who were with him when it all went down. General Stanley McChrystal was the commander of the U.S. military in Afghanistan – until this week. The fallout from his unguarded – and, apparently, well-lubricated – interviews with Rolling Stone magazine in which he was openly critical of U.S. President Barack Obama earned him a quick trip to the White House to explain himself. The Commander In Chief was steamed, and was more than happy to accept the resignation McChrystal offered, telling reporters afterward that “I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division.” But here’s the back-story on the whole thing: freelancer Michael Hastings (who has also written for Newsweek) had been granted some face time with McChrystal in Paris to write the profile, with some follow-up time back in Afghanistan to follow. But the journalist, the General and his entourage ended up stranded together in Europe for 10 days because of the volcanic ash which disrupted air travel several weeks ago. On a road trip by bus from Paris to Berlin, Hastings says McChrystal and his aides were “drinking the whole way.” “They let loose,” he said. “I don’t blame them; they have a hard job.” True, but we all saw the end result – and the end of McChrystal’s career arc – which followed publication this week. Hastings says he wasn’t trying to set the General up, noting that McChrystal knew their conversations were for the purpose of the profile article. “Most of the time I had a tape recorder in his face or a notebook in my hand.” And that’s the whole point: even without those tools being wielded, any conversation between a spokesperson and a journalist can be fair game for reporting. Candour isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you forget that you’re always on the record and don’t choose your words accordingly, that interview could well be your last.

Friday, June 18, 2010

VERITAS: FUMBLE - AND FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD OF SPORTS...

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Lying is never a good policy. It is doubly a bad policy in a cultural context that demands personal integrity and high moral standards. Consider (just in case you haven’t lately) sumo wrestling. In Japan, the double-wide dreadnoughts of the sumo doyho are treated with the kind of respect and pampering typically reserved for demi-gods, royalty, and Kobe beef cattle. In return, they are expected to live by the sumo’s strict code of conduct, both on and off the ring. So as news broke that gambling on baseball (among other illegal activities) is widespread among sumo wrestlers, their handlers and their hairdressers (seriously), the sport has been shaken to its very foundations. The scandal got its start with Kotomitsuki, a wrestler who this week was more or less voluntarily suspended from the upcoming Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament and who is indefinitely banned from sumo pending a police investigation. But Kotomitsuki’s shame is compounded by the fact that he initially denied any involvement in gambling when questioned by police. So now he’s not just a gambler in the public mind, but a liar. It recalls a case of poor conduct in another field of sport where a premium is put on integrity – namely, golf. (Remember Tiger Woods?) Fumble, Kotomitsuki and whoever was giving him advice.

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - CUTTING OFF THE UW STEROID SCANDAL

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

The anabolic steroid scandal now gripping the University of Waterloo and its football team threatened to sack the much-vaunted institution’s reputation. After one of UW’s players was arrested for allegedly dealing anabolic steroids, the administration had the whole team tested – and found that nine players had been using performance-enhancing drugs. In response, the university voluntarily suspended the football program for an entire year. That ticked off many of the players and their families, some of whom threatened legal action and staged a PR counter-offensive to try and get the university to reverse course. But that seems unlikely, as the university’s provost made clear at week’s end in several published interviews. Is it the right decision? Well, think about what distinguishes UW in the public mind? Top-notch research. High academic standards, particularly in computer sciences and engineering. Innovative alliances with corporations and business figures. (It’s where Mike Lazaridis, as a student, started RIM.) Let’s face it: it’s not football. Yes, cancelling the season is a drastic measure, and it will hurt the university’s athletics programs in the short term. But in the long run, it will save UW’s reputation, which could have been severely tarnished if it was seen to be acting in any other way but quickly, responsibly and aggressively. “There’s a larger message we need to send with this action,” said Bob Copeland, the university’s director of athletics.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - HAYWARD UNHELPFUL, UNEMPATHETIC

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

BP CEO Tony Hayward dropped the ball yet again this week when he went to Washington to face a furious administration. Yesterday, he was grilled by members of the House of Representatives, and time and time again, he denied having either involvement in or recollection of numerous decision points and other issues surrounding the gulf blowout. During the course of the afternoon, he noted that he is neither “a cement engineer,” “a drilling engineer” or “an oceanographic scientist” in response to questions from members of Congress who grew steadily more frustrated. Hayward’s tone was always calm and measured, and he did preface his appearance by reading a statement of regret for the spill, but his overall manner and reticence (“I am not stonewalling”) did favours for neither himself nor his company.

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - OBAMA'S OVAL OFFICE ADDRESS DELIVERS

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

“Give the people what they want” says the old show business adage. Being President of the United States during the worst environmental disaster in the country’s history is no vaudeville act, but nonetheless, Barack Obama had to leave his audience satisfied with his first national address from the Oval Office this week. First, a few style points regarding his speech about the spill in the gulf. I couldn’t help but note Obama’s militaristic framing of the effort to contain the spill, referring to the “battle plan” and that more environmental damage will come “before this siege is done.” Perhaps he’s hoping for a bit of a “wartime President” bump in the polls amid the disaster, like his predecessor got in the days following 9/11? And what’s the deal with the hand gestures? Gotta dial that back when sitting behind the desk in a tight head-and-shoulders camera shot. On more substantive points, Obama did a solid job on the three crisis communications fundamentals: what happened, what are you doing about it, and what are you doing to make sure it doesn’t happen again? He had a good raft of specific “proof points” to offer, and with respect to the “ass kicking” he talked about in a TV interview last week, Obama made clear that BP would be made to pay (into a compensation fund overseen by an independent third party) and that the Minerals Management Service would be overhauled and replaced by a new agency that would be “the oil industry’s watchdog, not its partner.” Obama was also careful to make clear that he understood the impact of the spill on the people of the gulf coast region. Empathy with those affected must be central to any crisis communications effort. And he didn’t hesitate to use the issue to reiterate and accelerate his commitment to clean energy investments, getting downright JFKesque about it: “Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny,” he said, framing the challenge as not unlike those of World War II and the space race. In all, Obama struck the right notes and gave the right assurances – right down to pledging that 90 per cent of the oil leaking from the well should be getting captured within the “coming weeks and days.” A gutsy move, and a target that had better be reached – or else Obama will own the unfulfilled promise.

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - ROB FORD ACTS FAST, STANDS TALL

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

It was a nightmare scenario for any public figure, let alone the perceived front-runner in the Toronto mayoral race. The Toronto Sun black-lined a story about a 52-minute conversation between candidate Rob Ford and a Toronto man – someone clearly upset, appealing for help in obtaining a family doctor and prescription pain-killers. The call was recorded, and the tape proffered around to, as it turns out, several media outlets. The Sun was the one that ran the story. Ford is quoted saying “I’ll try, buddy … I’ll try.” Ka-boom. But one thing about Rob Ford – he never shies away from ugly situations, so it wasn’t at all surprising to see him quoted in direct response to the leaked transcript, in the same story. This is crucial. By availing himself, Ford ensured that his side of the story was right there in black and white within the same article. “I just basically said what he wanted to hear,” Ford explained, pointing out that he tried to get off the phone several times, concerned by the man’s comment that he could “see (Ford’s) house” during the conversation. Later, in a news conference, Ford revealed that he had filed a formal complaint with police after he began fearing for his family’s safety, as had Etobicoke-Centre MPP Donna Cansfield, who also claims having been harassed by the man involved. Despite his somewhat of a loose cannon reputation, Ford has, over his years on city council, shown himself to be consistently frank with all comers, and a champion of law-and-order type issues. So he was in an excellent position to shoot down any suggestions that he would actually try and procure drugs for somebody (“I don’t know any drug dealers … I don’t even know what this s**t – that’s what I call drugs – this s**t’ is”). Ford also played it well expressing empathy for the man (“I personally feel sorry for him … he needs help”) even though he admitted feeling “set up” as a result of the whole thing. I think Ford’s track record of candour and willingness to try and help anyone who seeks his assistance will stand him in good stead, and combined with his quick communications response, this will be a colourful but brief footnote in the 2010 mayoral campaign.

Friday, June 11, 2010

VERITAS: FUMBLE - CHEVY - OR, "CHEVROLET," HAS AN IDENTITY CRISIS

This week's perspective from Com.motion:

Few brands ever achieve iconic status high enough to have been represented in classic lyrics of beloved rock songs, such as is the case with Chevy - or Chevrolet - in Don McLean's American Pie, amongst many others. This week, Chevrolet distributed an internal memo, penned by Alan Batey, vice president of sales and service for Chevrolet, suggesting that employees stop using Chevy, and instead only use Chevrolet. The New York Times caught wind of this memo and posted it on its Wheels blog. Immediately, conversation erupted online and off with many people scratching their heads about the memo's intentions. The following day, Chevrolet posted a video interview to its YouTube channel with Batey, who used the term Chevy profusely, explaining it was their nickname and one they loved. Eventually the memo was dismissed as being a poorly worded draft that was not meant to signal any shift in direction. For a brand that is seemingly emerging from the biggest fiscal challenge in its history, favourable nicknames are precious. An unfortunate fumble for Chevy because, although they quickly corrected the issue, they came across as slightly undisciplined with the leak of this internal memo suggesting a massive course change for the brand.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - WHO'S LOOKING AT YOUR iPAD?

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Ok, so maybe Apple’s iPad really is the saviour of all media. One can only hope. But its path to world domination did not exactly get a boost this week from AT&T, the exclusive telecom service provider for iPad users. A group of French hackers calling itself Goatse Security discovered and exploited a vulnerability in AT&T’s website that allowed them to see the “ICC ID’s” (whatever those are) of tens of thousands of iPad owners, including a few high-profile members of the military, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, film mogul Harvey Weinstein and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (Unintended consequence: free celeb endorsement for the iPad.) AT&T responded swiftly to the report of the breach, first published in Gawker.com: it said it fixed the problem within hours of finding out about it from a customer, and apologized to iPad customers. Fair enough. But then it made a point to emphasize that the only things hackers could derive from ICC IDs were email addresses, no passwords or other personal information. That might have been a step too far. By implying that the damage was limited, AT&T gave reporters a step upon which to talk about all the bad things hackers could actually do with the IDs. And so the story was extended. The lesson: when you’re caught making an error, fix it, apologize for it, but avoid being seen to downplay it - don’t tell the victim how unworried he or she should be. So reluctantly, we award a fumble to AT&T. Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating the security breach, which serves the would-be do-gooders (who seem more interested in notoriety than security) right. Fumble to Goatse too.

TOUCHDOWN - RUSSELL CROWE IS NOT DEAD YET

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Gosh, but that darned Internet can be a dorky thing sometimes. Never more so than when a rumour takes on a life of its own and becomes a “meme” (an annoyingly precious word whose use in the blogosphere has become, well, a meme in itself). Anyway, the rumour this time round was that Russell Crowe had fallen 50 feet (note the detail, an essential element of a complete fabrication) down a precipice in Kitzbuhel, Austria, while filming his next movie. Where the rumour started is anyone’s guess, but at mid-week it was all over the place – until that bastion of journalistic integrity, UsWeekly.com, called up Crowe’s people and discovered that the actor was alive, well, and nowhere near Kitzbuhel. Old technology (telephone) to the rescue. Shockingly, it turns out that not everything on the Internet is true. In fact, some unscrupulous operators will publish just about anything to generate traffic, and the recent “meme” of fake-celebrity-death reports (Bill Cosby, Justin Timberlake, Paris Hilton, and on and on) is just one more sad example. From a broader communications perspective, though, it matters. If you end up the subject of Internet scuttlebutt, it’s crucial to be able to distinguish the credible online sources from the incredible ones—and to pay attention to who’s really listening to whom. That’s the kind of intel you’ll need to develop and executive an effective response. Anyway, a Touchdown to UsWeekly.com, for not being completely lazy and idiotic.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - KYLE RAE DOESN'T CARE WHAT YOU THINK

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Questionable spending by politicians is nothing new, especially at Toronto City Hall, ironically the same place that also whines regularly about how broke the big smoke is. So it’s a galling – and a right-in-its-wheelhouse kind of story – that the Toronto Sun splashed on its front page this week, of retiring councillor Kyle Rae throwing himself a $12,000 send-off at the Rosewater Supper Club, paid for by taxpayers. Apparently it’s an allowable “office expense” under the rules. But when confronted by the Sun at the event, rather than attempting to explain or rationalize, Rae simply blew off reporter Don Peat: “I am not talking to you. I am doing something else tonight,” he sniffed at the time. Later, after mayoral candidate Rob Ford seized on the issue and called on Rae to pay back the tab, Rae declared himself “tired of the Sun plague” when he was again given a chance to comment. Rae’s not running for re-election, so I suppose it’s his call if he wants to take a pounding in the press without the slightest effort to defend himself. But by refusing to comment, he is speaking volumes as to what he thinks about what the rest of us think of him. Fumble.

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - OBAMA READY TO "KICK ASS"

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Barack Obama knows all too well how precarious a position it can be for the President of the United States when a disaster strikes his country. He watched George W. Bush drop the ball entirely during Hurricane Katrina, and has been trying very hard to straddle the line between leadership and liability in the Gulf of Mexico. Take too much profile and you can end up owning the calamity – keep too much distance and you’re Dubya. And despite his best efforts, an ABC News/Washington Post poll this week found 69% of Americans feel Obama has done either a “poor” or “not so good” job at best on the spill. So it was strategic communications in action when he appeared on NBC’s Today Show this week, emphasizing that he has been on the case and on the scene in the Gulf long before the “talking heads” started focusing intensively on the crisis. The capper – and headline-maker – was his comment that he’s looking to find out “who’s ass to kick.” And front and centre is BP CEO Tony Hayward – now dubbed by some as “the most hated man in America.” Obama was asked if, hypothetically, if he would fire Hayward were he an Obama employee, given the gaffes he has made in the media. Normally, we counsel our media coaching clients never to bite on a hypothetical scenario – unless, of course, it presents a strategic communications opportunity. “He wouldn’t be working for me,” Obama pronounced. Well played, Mr. President.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - CONSERVATIVES SINK IN FAKE LAKE

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

I’ll admit, hindsight is always 20/20. But foresight is indispensible in high profile communications, and the federal government obviously falls into the category. Somebody should have seen it coming. When the planning for the G-20 and G-8 summits was underway, I’m sure the notion of a Muskoka-themed backdrop (for the majority of the global media contingent who will not be making the trip to Huntsville, but will have to “cover” the G-8 gathering there from the G-20 media centre in Toronto) was viewed as a highly creative idea. However, given the massive cost of staging the summits overall – which quickly became a dominant issue in Parliament and at the water coolers of the nation – the “fake lake” became the symbolic flashpoint. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his ministers have defended the summits as a tremendous marketing opportunity for Canada on the world stage, but to little avail. Media outlets have been busy running naming contests and critics have won the quote wars. The best issue management is not to have an issue at all, and knowing that the price tag of the summits would be a big one, the feds should have been on red alert for anything that could become an icon of summit spending gone wild.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

VERITAS: FUMBLE - ZUCKERBERG BREAKS INTO A SWEAT

This week's perspective from Com.motion:

Therese Poletti of MarketWatch may have said it best: "Facebook CEO has a Richard Nixon moment." This week, at the famed All Things D Conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was part of a feature interview with hosts Kira Swisher and Walt Mossberg. Predictably, he was asked about the recent storm of concern around Facebook's privacy issues and widely reported comments made by Zuckerberg in the past that seemingly dismissed users of Facebook and any regard for their privacy. This is an event that both Facebook and Zuckerberg should have been ready for. We've covered Facebook's issues in TD&F frequently of late, and it should be clear that when United States Senators, consumer groups and global government agencies are questioning your approach to users of your site, there will be at least a few pointed questions aimed to unearth the key issues behind them. Instead, Zuckerberg came across as evasive and somewhat disconnected. The response has been very critical, with some suggesting Facebook should consider other spokespeople and Shel Israel going so far as to suggest he step down. Although the technical solutions to Facebook's issues are complex, their communications issues are very clear. Facebook, led by Mark Zuckerberg, needs to find its stride, confidently and transparently outlining how it will manage the firestorm and be prepared to continually face questions as the platform evolves.

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - THE ANATHEMA OF JUSTIN BIEBER

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

Has the darling of Stratford, Ontario jumped the proverbial shark? “Mayhap, verily!” as they say in hip-hop singing sensation Justin Bieber’s home town. But maybe his time has come only among a very well-defined demographic set – namely, people who are not screaming 12-year-old girls. Greg Leuch, a web developer and designer based in New York, has developed and released a handy-dandy software application that will erase all memory and mention of the omnipresent teen star from your computer. The point of it, Leuch told the Globe and Mail, was to help a friend stop getting so many Justin Bieber hits on his web searches. But that innocuous back story hasn’t stopped hordes of “Beliebers” from flaming Leuch up and down the Internet—including a death threat or two, which Leuch has dutifully posted online. Touchdown, Greg Leuch, for latching onto an online phenom (Bieber) and becoming part of ‘Net history. As for Bieber—well, can even more Bieberadicators be far behind?

VERITAS: FIRST DOWN - TIGER WOODS STAGES A COMEBACK

This week's perspective from Joe Chidley:

I’m not sure this qualifies as a touchdown per se - it’s more of an update on a developing communications story. But in this correspondent’s opinion, the rehabilitation of Tiger Woods’ tarnished image got a boost from the nature of his appearance at the Skins Game at Muirfield Village in Ohio, which took place the Wednesday before the PGA tournament proper began. Playing alongside a hand-picked cast of rivals (Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els), upstarts (Rory McIlroy) and at least one legend (Jack Nicklaus, who also designed the course), Woods looked to be relaxed and enjoying the game – he smiled more than once and cracked a few jokes. Maybe that was because he was playing better than in his previous outings. Or maybe he just liked the laid-back atmosphere of the skins format. Or maybe he was trying to show the world that he’s moving on, enjoying the game he has dominated for so long, and more or less saying “please let’s concentrate on the golf for a change.” Taking part in the informal competition was smart in the first place: it put Tiger firmly in the company of golf’s glorious past (Nicklaus) and promising future (McIlroy). In other words, it helped secure his status as part of the game’s elite. The fact the non-golf press barely paid attention to his Skins appearance suggests that the media attention has moved on. Perhaps not accidentally, the very next day, EA Sports began airing a commercial for the next iteration of its best-selling Tiger Woods Golf video game, which shows Woods smiling and having fun along with the likes of John Madden. Presentation note: if you’re trying to make people stop focusing on the negative, look and act like you’re focusing on the positive. First Down, Tiger.

VERITAS: TOUCHDOWN - CANADIAN TIRE SCORES WITH HENDERSON JERSEY BID

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

So some American collector owns the actual jersey (I can hear Don Cherry screaming “SWEATER!”) that Paul Henderson was wearing when he potted the clinching goal in the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey series. Who knew? Well, it’s up for auction, and Canadian Tire Corporation scored a Touchdown on ice by dropping a $200,000 “opening bid” for the iconic piece of Canadian hockey heritage. That’s $50k above the current high bid – and the auction doesn’t close until June 22nd. No matter. The gesture has already netted the company brilliant ink, to wit: “Canadian tire has been part of our country’s fabric for almost 90 years. Hockey is part of that fabric and Canada’s game. We are Canada’s hockey store. That is Canada’s hockey jersey – and we want to bring it home for the enjoyment of all Canadians,” said Canadian Tire Retail president Mike Arnett. He shoots, he scores … and I bet they win the auction, too.

VERITAS - TOUCHDOWN CLASS WINS OUT

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

Armando Galarraga was pitching for the Detroit Tigers at their home field, Comerica Park. Jim Joyce was the first base umpire. Galarraga caught a pop-up by Cleveland’s Jason Donald, jogged over to first base with the ball in his mitt and stepped on the bag. Joyce called Donald safe. Everybody went nuts. Well, controversial calls happen all the time, right? Trouble is, Galarraga was not only clearly there well ahead of the runner, but he also happened to have been pitching what everyone else in the stadium knew was the first perfect game in Tigers history. Joyce defended his call. The game ended with Galarraga denied. Then he watched the replay. Uh-oh. Now, we all make mistakes, but when you make one in the public eye and media spotlight, how do you handle it? That’s why TD&F is here. And on this one, we’re here to give the hapless ump an unequivocal Touchdown for what he said – and did – next. He asked for the chance to go speak with Galarraga immediately, and he did. Told him, tearfully, that his call was dead wrong, and that he couldn’t be more sorry for his error. Then he manned up right away to the media: “It was the biggest call of my career, and I kicked the @#$ out of it. I just cost that kid a perfect game. I thought he beat the throw. I was convinced he beat the throw, until I saw the replay.” No waffle, no excuses, no nothing but a painfully honest admission of human fallability. Galarraga was gutted, but ultimately equally graceful in his acceptance of Joyce’s apology. Everybody wins.

VERITAS: FUMBLE - BP CEO GETS WHINY

This week's perspective from Bob Reid:

One could say (like the Globe & Mail’s Eric Reguly, who offered an excellent summary in Thursday’s column) that British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward did a lot of things right at the outset of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. He went to the scene right away, and mobilized all possible corporate resources to try and cap the gusher. But in communications terms he has made a series of gaffes, including telling a TV interviewer this week that “I’d like my life back.” Boo-freakin’-hoo, Tony. You can never – ever – complain about your own personal headaches when you’re at the forefront of a crisis that is impacting on untold numbers of people, let alone the families of the 11 BP employees who died when the oil rig exploded in the first place. He apologized personally to those family members, but much like with the gulf itself, the damage was already done.