On the Road Again.....

May 22, 2009

Welcome back everyone! It's been a long time since I last blogged. In that time, I have been the busiest IN MY ENTIRE LIFE and you know, I've been fairly busy all my life!

Well with North Korea about to follow the insanity of their great imperial leader, Kim Jung II; recovering from the threat of a Major Pandemic; or just the ongoing global economic meltdown, I thought I would catch up instead on what I've been doing.

What have I been up to? Well I'm glad you asked....

I have been busy handling communications for the Oliphant Commission of Inquiry http://www.oliphantcommission.ca
along with being communications counsel for Mayor Larry O'Brien of Ottawa during his current trial on charges related to his 2006 campaign for the Mayoralty of Ottawa. If you want to keep track of what is going on there, a very good blog named city holler will keep you posted accurately. It can be found at:

In both cases, the reality of live bloggers and 'tweets' has sped up enormously the reporting and have pushed the media outlets to do a lot more live hits and website updates than ever before. I try to make courtesy and respect to journalists a hallmark of my approach to media relations. I do believe that when it comes to building understanding, one can get more with honey than vinegar.

On top of that, I have managed to work on a communications plan, conducted a number of seminars, and even coached a few political candidates in different cities, so when I say busy.......I mean BUSY!

Springtime in Kiev

We had a fabulous time in the beautiful city of Kiev, Ukraine where Laura and I did three seminars for the Justices and Senior Staff of the Supreme Court, Constitutional Court and High Administrative Court. Although we were translated (magnificently as it turned out) everything went surprisingly seamlessly and the people were a joy to work with. [I could definitely recommend the boutique Hotel Riviera which was modern, well run and ideally situated.] A few days in Frankfurt on the way was a real bonus where we (along with our daughter Caroline] enjoyed exploring Museums - especially the Night of Museums in which all museums stayed open. We walked into one about 10 o'clock at night and there was a great Celtic group! playing terrific Irish music.

The Jewish Museum in Frankfurt
was particularly moving - the story of the organized looting of museums, galleries and over 70,000 Jewish homes. Many were forced to sign over their artworks and prized artifacts to the Nazis. It took decades to get them back. Lest we forget....

Customer Service

Picking up on my 'lousy customer service' themes of some previous blogs, the Senator lounge of Lufthansa at Frankfurt airport could do with a change of attitude. Six hours between flights and 'ze rules are only one guest with Star Alliance Gold member' and no they don't allow one guest to leave and the other replace her...]. So the two strikingly similar Fraus at the 'customer service desk (sic) only obey ze rules. I couldn't help flashing back to Hogan's Heroes and out popped the phrase from my lips 'Yervole'(phonetic).

Speaking of customer service
Remember in one of my earlier blogs when I recounted the tale of trying to get a coffee with milk and the woman serving me was trying to get me to buy a carton of milk, because the ones she had were sour? Well I made a mistake when I said that the cafe at Saskatoon airport was owned by Cara Foods. I got a very nice email from Cara telling me that they do not own that coffee shop and even offered to give me a gift certificate for their high-quality restaurants. Boy did I feel badly! It taught me to yes.....check my sources! [Just like those journalists.....]

Winging my way back home

Following a surprisingly easy flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver (love that northern route) I eventually made it home following a one-day gig out there.

The Street Stops Here, by Patrick J. McCloskey
I recently hosted a book launch for this fabulous tale of a year in the life of a Catholic all-boys high school in Harlem. It has received terrific reviews from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Publisher's Weekly and many more. The riveting story of ex-Black Panther -turned Rice High Principal, Orlando Gober and his larger-than-life persona as he grapples with fatherless boys, drugs, hormones and every challenge imaginable to turn the school around and over one-third of them reach the honor roll.
Check it out here:

Risk Communications and the Swine Flu
For a great example of what not to do when communicating about risk issues, check out Joe Biden's interview on the Today Show. Note that Matt Lauer asked him a hypothetical question (and he set it up by saying he didn't want to ask him a 'gotcha' question!) it strikes me that the VP just got up too early with not enough sleep. The tip-off was he called Matt 'Sam'!


Until next time....
Take care!