PD Event Recap: Crisis Communications in Canadian Politics

On Thursday March 24th 2016, IABC Ottawa hosted the sold out Crisis Communications in Canadian Politics panel discussion. It was a full house despite the cold weather and guests were eager to draw from the experiences and insights of our four panelists Jason MacDonald, Jordan Owens, Mike Murphy, and Lisa Allaire. IABC Ottawa chapter president and executive vice-president at Thornley Fallis Communications, Sherrilynne Starkie, moderated the panel and asked hard-hitting questions on citizen journalism, transparency, working against the clock in an instant and social media driven society, and in identifying key players during that first hour of an event.

Being proactive, having a pre-plan to anticipate for crises, and prioritizing the safety of others were themes echoed by panelist Jason MacDonald, vice-president deputy practice leader at Hill & Knowlton Strategies throughout the course of the evening.

Jordan Owens, press secretary to the office of the Minister of National Defense spoke about the importance of going beyond talking points. For Jordan, understanding the true depths of an issue and communicating it through simple messaging helps build authentic relationships with the media and their audiences.

Panelist Lisa Allaire, chief corporate communications at the City of Ottawa emphasized the role communicators play in shaping an evolving story during an emergency crisis. Lisa shared her experience as one of the communication leads during the October 22nd Parliament Hill shooting last fall and how the tragedy brought the city together.

For panelist Mike Murphy, director of communications for the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, inconsistency will always give a story legs. “Tell the truth or the truth will find you.”

Thank you to our IABC members and prospective members for joining us for a special and intimate evening.

If you have any questions about our event, contact profdev@ottawa.iabc.com.

Follow IABC Ottawa and event organizers Sharon Cheung and Anastasia Smolentseva for updates on future events!