May debates!

I can’t even begin to tell you my glee at the power of public voice and two-way communications in getting Elizabeth May of the Green Party into the leaders’ debates.

The website PR Ethics defines two-way communications:

James Grunig, one of the leading public relations scholars in the world, proposes his model of two-way, symmetrical communication as the best way to achieve ethical decisions. He bases his theory on the following assumptions:

  • Collaboration, working jointly with others, is a key value in ethical decisions.
  • The process of dialogue with different people allows for both listening and arguing.
  • Not everyone will get what they want, but dialogue will lead to the most ethical outcome.

This approach requires the public relations practitioner to balance their role as advocate for their client with their role as social conscience.

The Green Party  launched a great social media campaign on September 7th, including blogs, You Tube posts, and a Facebook site dedicated to the topic which enlisted 6,084 members in a matter of days. My son, an avid Green canvasser, received an email with links to an online petition. Today’s Globe and Mail and several Canwest papers ran editorials asking what the big deal is. Canadians mobilized to be heard.

This morning first Jack Layton, then Stephen Harper and finally the network media consortium gave into public pressure. In 2007, public opinion polls showed 77% of Canadians favoured Green party inclusion  in  debates.

Does two-way communication in PR work? You bet. And my glee arises from the fact that good PR allows citizens a voice in their communities and the opportunity to shape their future.

In fact, I’d bet my APR on it. Thanks James Grunig.

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3 Responses to “May debates!”


  1. 1 Alice September 11, 2008 at 6:10 am

    That was pretty awesome to watch, wasn’t it? Canadians saw what was happening to Ms. May, expressed their dismay – online and off, and suddenly, a shift!

  2. 2 Britt September 11, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    I love this post. Social media is such an effective tool for mobilizing. It’s so easy and fast for people to express their opinions – and they’re broadcast to the world so there is no way to ignore them.

  3. 3 Michael Allison September 16, 2008 at 8:35 am

    I’m interested to see how the Greens fare with the spotlight on them. We’ll see how they do things now that they’re less on the fringe.

    BTW, Dr. Grunig is a member of this great social network for PR folks: http://www.propenmic.org/ I haven’t been lately, but there are a bunch of good discussions going on.


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