Top of Mind - May 16, 2011

How effective will the Smart Tax Alliance's present advertising be at convincing British Columbians to support the harmonized sales tax?

Last week, the alliance - the HST referendum's official No side proponent - rolled out ads in which an "independent bookkeeper," three "chartered accountants" and a "tax expert" touted the positives of harmonization. But number crunchers don't make for the most charismatic spokespeople. And whatever appeal these ads have is almost entirely intellectual and impersonal. Indeed, they seem to be aimed at a business audience rather than the general public. By comparison, Fight HST's advertising will likely be more negative, as well strongly personal and emotional. As such, unless the Smart Tax Alliance changes its sales job, its unlikely their advertising campaign will meet with much success.

What does Christy Clark's handling of her by-election victory in Vancouver-Point Grey say about her administration's media relations capability?

On Thursday, Ms. Clark was decidedly unreflective when press gallery members asked about that near loss, with the premier positioning it as a big win. That positioning didn't go over well, with The Vancouver Sun's Vaughn Palmer criticizing the premier's "triumphal tone" in his next-day column. But what's surprising is Ms. Clark should have been aware of that potential criticism, giving her an opportunity to avoid it. After all, in a blog entry posted more than 12 hours before her news conference with the gallery, Mr. Palmer wrote the premier's win over New Democrat challenger David Eby was a "wake up call" for Ms. Clark and an inditement of the "hamfisted smugness" with which the Liberals had approached the by-election. As such, the premier would have been well-advised to show some humility following her win. But the fact she didn't raises questions about her media relations instincts and those of her advisors.

What does Ms. Clark's intermingling of her personal and political life mean for reporters covering her administration?

In the main, journalists try to avoid reporting on the personal lives of politicians. But Ms. Clark's continued intermingling of her personal and political life is making it difficult not to.

For example, when reporters asked last week what she would have done differently during the recent by-election, the premier said, "We haven't sat down and done that analysis yet. Listen, I got to bed at almost midnight last night after I got my kid's teeth brushed and into bed. So we're going to be sitting down and talking about those things."

Then, in a response to a question about whether she plans to run again in Vancouver-Point Grey, Ms. Clark said, "I don't know. I'm hoping to be able to move a little bit farther West. Although the thing is, for me, moving isn't - as you know, anyone who has little kids - it's not something that you do in a week."

Both responses are legitimate. But they also feel unassailable because of the involvement of Ms. Clark's family, making follow-up questions difficult. And that's an issue that could create challenges for reporters if Ms. Clark continues to embrace being premier mom.

1 Comment

Did not watch the vdeo not interested in propaganda, got all the informaton I need,but the fact is the Rate must be 9% Im Voting NO, so up to you Liberal mlas

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