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Out of Toronto politics emerges a confusing PR strategy November 8, 2013

Posted by rmshepard in Uncategorized.
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Toronto mayor Rob Ford was accused in May 2013 of smoking crack cocaine, after Gawker and the Toronto Star announced that reporters had seen a brief cell-phone video of the politician smoking from a glass pipe. Repeatedly over the summer Ford denied that he had smoked the substance. His story changed, though, when the city’s police chief recently announced that an unrelated raid led to a copy of the video being retrieved from a computer. Ford quickly told the media, “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But … do I? Am I an addict? No.” Asked when he had smoked crack, the mayor responded, “Probably in one of my drunken stupors, probably approximately about a year ago.” Despite the admission, Ford announced, “I was elected to do a job and that is exactly what I am going to continue doing. We live in a democracy and on October 27, 2014, I want the people of this great city to decide if they want Rob Ford to be their mayor.”

Mayor Ford’s version from absolute denial to admission has stumped PR experts. As Bill Walker of PR firm Fleishman-Hillard told the CBC, “I don’t know how in one day you go from your brother demanding that the police chief resign, to you admitting that you smoked crack cocaine, and you calling a press conference where everybody thought you were going to resign and then, instead, announcing that you are going to run again in the next election for mayor — and you’re not leaving.” Walker concluded that the strategy is nothing short of “chaos.”

To see Ford’s admission, watch the following clip:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What was wrong with Ford’s strategy in responding to the scandal? What should he have done differently?

2.  Is there any saving Ford’s political career? If so, how could a different PR strategy from here on out accomplish such a feat?

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