Tuesday, January 9, 2013

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday, January 9, 2013

Consultant’s PR gaffes spur online ridicule

It almost looks like a toy. A city engagement campaign botched at the launch by an Ottawa-based PR firm will be reviewed “in due time,” according to one city councillor.

“The problem is that we apparently retained an agency that is a stranger of competence,” says Sam Merulla in an email Tuesday night. “And we will be reviewing this issue.”
Merulla doesn’t indicate when a review might begin, only saying staff needs “to assess the continuation of the present course expeditiously.”

It started Monday afternoon, when the city launched “Our Voice, Our Hamilton” to gauge Hamiltonians’ views about civic services. The city hired Ottawa-based public engagement firm Dialogue Partners Inc. in April 2012 to lead the $376,000 campaign, which includes a website and online survey and a Twitter account.

But at 9:30 Monday night, “Our Voice, Our Hamilton” made its first gaffe. Responding to a question posed on Twitter about the HSR – one of the very services it is charged with reviewing – the campaign responded “Thks for the comment – what is “HSR” just so we can accurately capture your comment 🙂 Thanks!”

Hamiltonians soon spotted other discrepancies about the firm’s knowledge of the city. The main photo on the campaign’s website was quickly revealed to be a bike trail in Ottawa, not Hamilton. Several posts on the campaign’s Pinterest page – a website that acts as an online bulletin board – included photos of the courthouse in Hamilton, Ohio, and promotional T-shirts from Hamilton, Wash. (Source: Hamilton Spectator) http://www.thespec.com/news-story/2266625-update-merulla-looks-to-fire-pr-firm-on-city-campaign/