Canada’s Prime Minister shows he understands meaningful public engagement

It’s not necessary for government to agree with everything they hear from the public. In fact it’s an impossibility on issues on which the public is divided. But it IS necessary for government to listen, acknowledge the input, and explain how it was used and explain the final decision. Only then will a reasonable person feel their input on a public issue was valued.

While speaking yesterday to the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the question of building consensus and listening to people. I believe that every public engagement practitioner will recognize in his remarks the fundamentals of the best practices that we strive for. To hear these sentiments issuing from a national leader is encouraging. It helps me to believe that, amid the daily noise of government, wise and thoughtful leaders are still working to achieve a more equitable, responsive and representative government.

CBC has posted a video of PM Trudeau’s exchange with Neskonlith Chief Judy Wilson.  Starting at around minute 4:15 as Trudeau says,

Can we build consensus? Can we do the right kinds of things? And when we move forward on some of the things that maybe some of you will disagree with, can we move forward in the least worst way?

By listening to you.

By responding to your concerns tangibly and concretely.

By making adjustments so that you understand that it is done in a sense of respect and collective responsibility.

Inside PR 517: Did the NY Times decision on Sarah Jeong mark a turning point?

Inside PR 517 has been posted – and it covers a lot of ground.

On Inside PR 517, we talk about the Sarah Jeong controversy that erupted last week. If you aren’t familiar with this, I have included links to key articles that will provide the background in the Linkworthy section below. Here’s a quick recap. Last week, the New York Times announced that Sarah Jeong would be leaving the Verge to join the NY Times as lead writer on technology. And then a Twitter storm erupted as attention was drawn to tweets authored by Jeong that were derogatory of white people. The Times quickly reaffirmed its decision, pointing to the context in which Jeong wrote those tweets and indicating that they would not be acceptable in future now that she has joined the Times. Coming in the wake of the James Gunn and Les Moonves controversies, could we indeed be seeing the a restoration of the balance between nuance and absolutism? As Martin asks, could we be back to a time in which we can admit to a mistake, own it, show contrition, and move on? We can only hope so.

Also, in this episode, we know that many listeners to this podcast speak about their area of practice to conferences and at professional development events. If you do this even once a year, you’ll be interested in a post that Gini Dietrich wrote on the SpinSucks blog, Six ways to generate leads from a speaking engagement. Martin and I both thought it offered practical advice that we would put to work – and we asked Gini to discuss it with us.

Finally, a couple #IPRMustKnows, things worth noting and acting upon:

  • WordPress is one more step closer to the full rollout of Project Gutenberg. This week, WordPress pushed out a maintenance update that included a prompt to all users to turn on the Gutenberg update. Gini did this for SpinSucks – and she raves about how great the new experience is. This may be the final release before WordPress 5.0 is pushed out to all users. And with WordPress 5.0, Gutenberg 5.0 will be turned on by default for all users. So, if you publish on WordPress and you haven’t turned on Gutenberg yet, now is your time to try it out.
  • Feedly is, in Joe’s opinion, the best newsreader available for people who want to curate their online information sources via RSS feeds. When Google closed down Google Reader, a substantial part of the Reader community migrated their reading lists to Feedly. That was a time of rocket ship growth for Feedly, which enabled users to access, read and curate their news sources on every device – desktop, tablet and mobile phone. Now the good folks at Feedly have initiated a major rewrite of the Feedly iOS app – and they have invited their community of users to test the app as it is being developed and provide their feedback. The Feedly team have set up a dedicated Slack Workspace for the beta phase, to announce the new features introduced or refined with each week’s release and asking for feedback on these features. And to enable participants in the beta to see that their input is being incorporated in the development team’s work, they’ve gone a step further, setting up a Trello workspace and posting links to it so that the participant community can see the state of work. The Beta program is just about to hit its midpoint. But new users still are joining. So, if you use Feedly and want to make it better, you too can still sign up to participate in the beta. Kudos to Feedly for building their app the right way, co-creating with their community will yield a much better product that meets both mainstream and specialized needs.


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Inside PR in July

The last half of July may have been the hottest on record. But that didn’t mean that we took a vacation from Inside PR. In fact, we posted several episodes. And you can catch up with them here:

All in all, a busy month. You can catch up with the podcast by clicking on any of the links above.

Inside PR 513: It’s about disclosure, stupid!

On this week’s episode of the Inside PR podcast: The biggest change to WordPress in ten years; the Guardian decides good enough video really is good enough; and a teachable moment in marketing ethics. It’s about disclosure, stupid!

WordPress 5 with Gutenberg

WordPress users have something big to look forward to – the release of WordPress 5. WordPress published an updateforecasting that WordPress 5 will be released as early as August. Why is WordPress 5 such a big deal? Because it will incorporate the new Gutenberg editing system.

Gutenberg will be the first significant change in WordPress’ core editing dashboard in ten years. And when it is introduced, WordPress users will have, for the first time, a true WYSIWYG interface that will enable them to create, format and arrange their content as they create it, seeing the results as they make the changes. As long time WordPress users, this is something that we have been looking forward to. August can’t come soon enough.

Sometime good enough video is good enough

We know that video is the most engaging of social objects. But we also know that it takes a lot of work to produce highly polished “professional-looking” videos. Digiday reports that The Guardian has adjusted their approachto video on Instagram. They concluded that the uptake of their videos does not justify the high cost of production of highly polished videos. On the other hand, they also noticed that less polished videos were being viewed as often as higher quality, higher cost of production videos. So, from now on, the Guardian is producing less polished videos such as 12 to 15 screen “explainers.”

We think there is a lesson here for all of us – sometimes it makes sense to aim for “good enough” to achieve your objectives. If you can achieve your objective at lower cost, doesn’t it just make sense to do this?

If you fail to disclose, this could be you

A few weeks ago we talked about the less-than-transparent disclosure made by matte story distributors and publishers. This week, Buzzfeed threw daylight on another lapse in disclosure. They highlighted the behaviour of one marketing company that routinely places bylined articles in online news outlets such as Forbes and Entrepreneur without disclosing that references to their clients within the articles are in fact references to clients of the marketing firm.

Nobody is served well by this practice. Not the client. Not the publisher. And not the marketing firm. Just one more reminder to us all that trust is built over time, but can be lost with a single action. Let’s remember, when in doubt, disclose.


This post originally appeared on the Inside PR Podcast blog.

Stratechery’s Ben Thompson: Facebook’s Instagram acquisition was a regulatory failure – Recode

Instagram gave Facebook unfair reach, Thompson argues.

In effect, Ben Thompson has made the case for breaking up Facebook. Just like we needed to break up AT&T in the 80s to enable entrepreneurs to grow new companies, we need to break up Facebook to give new, innovative social apps the oxygen they need to grow. In recent years, Facebook has either snapped them up at an early point (Instagram) or replicated their most attractive features (Snapchat). Either way, Facebook emerges as more dominant and we become more captive of it.

It’s time to break up Facebook. It’s just too big to be good for anyone other than its shareholders.

Source: Stratechery’s Ben Thompson: Facebook’s Instagram acquisition was a regulatory failure – Recode

Can we span the gulf between polarized positions?

We live in times in which the volume has been turned up and the listening has stopped. In the wake of the US election, opposing camps have built polarized world views based on conflicting arrays of alternative facts.

The members of the US chapter of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2 USA) experience the disfunction of public discourse on a daily basis in their work promoting and facilitation public engagement with government.

Now, IAP2 USA is organizing a National Dialogue among its members and interested community groups to discuss the current environment for public participation. The dialogue will take the form of meetings across the summer culminating in a discussion at the IAP2’s North American Conference in Denver in September.

IAP2 USA President Leah Jaramillo talked to me about the IAP2’s National Dialogue initiative, its focus and objectives, its origins, where it will happen and its culmination at the IAP2 North American Conference in September.

Check out my full discussion with IAP2 USA President Leah Jaramillo on the Inside P2 podcast.


Two Inside PR Podcasts this week

Memorial Day Weekend is just around the corner. And we know that a lot of the listeners to the Inside PR podcast will be driving to weekend getaways tomorrow. So, we’re publishing this week’s episode before the weekend instead of after, so that our U.S. subscribers will have it to keep them occupied during their trips.

This week, we cover a lot of ground: Ev Williams reminds us about what the Internet can and should be. Worth considering. Society & Data issues a report on Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online. Worth Reading. Is Pinterest Shazam for Food? Worth sampling. Facebook struggles with community standard and keeps marching forward in video. Worth a time out? And MP3 is dead. Worth debunking.

If you’re not a subscriber yet, click over to the Inside PR podcast blog to download Inside PR 475.

Happy Memorial Day!

Government of Ontario delivering on open data commitment

Ontario Legislature Building

In 2016, the Government of Ontario signed on as one of the first wave of members of the Open Government Partnership’s subnational government pilot program. In joining the plan, Ontario submitted an Open Government Partnership Action Plan that included a commitment to “strengthen Ontario’s commitment to making government data open by default by adopting the International Open Data Charter.” Ontario formally adopted the Charter on May 5, 2017.

Ontario seems to be making good on its open data commitment.

Participants in the consultations conducted in developing the OGP commitments recently received an update from the province which indicated, in part,

“… Ontario’s data catalogue now includes a comprehensive list of data owned or managed by government, including over 570 open datasets.  The catalogue lists data as either open, restricted, under review or in the process of being made open.

“Knowing what we have is the first step in understanding which data is the most valuable to our stakeholders and the public. Our data catalogue will help us prioritize which data sets to release first.

“We will continue to expand the data inventory to make all government data open by default. This means opening up all government data, unless it is exempt for legal, security, confidentiality, privacy, or commercially sensitive reasons.

“Provincial agencies are also posting lists of their datasets online. Over 95 agencies have their data listed on their websites, and some have begun taking further steps to engage users of their data.”

Ontario’s Data Catalogue

Ontario’s data is available at the Province’s online Data Catalogue. Data sets are classified as open, in the process of being opened, under review or restricted.

As of the date of writing this, the Catalogue lists 2351 data sets. Of these:

  • 576 are open;
  • 198 are to be opened;
  • 1008 are under review; and
  • 569 are restricted.

That means that, at the time of writing, just under one in four of the data sets in the catalogue are restricted. The catalogue gives no explanation for the restricted categorization of these data sets. I have sent the government and email query re the criteria used to assign the restricted category to a data set and I will update this posted when I receive a response.

A good start

So, that’s the not-so-good news. But I believe that the commitment to open by default, backed up by the 576 data sets that already have been opened as well as the transparency achieved by publishing the catalogue represents a huge advance. It means that citizens will have easy access to much more information than they could have achieved even a few years ago. And with data comes knowledge and understanding. Knowledge and understanding that can be used by citizens to increase their engagement with government.

So, kudos to Ontario. Kudos to the Open Government Partnership. So far, so good.