He was on the frontlines of some of B.C.’s most notorious moments of civil unrest, and now the security of the 2010 Olympic Games — and the nation’s reputation for peace, order and good government — may well rest on the decisions he makes if tensions arise during the games. Geoff Dembicki of The Tyee and Bob Mackin of 24 Hours Vancouver collaborate on an in-depth four-part series looking at Mercer’s controversial past, and present responsibilities.
The interesting thing I learned today is that some research units at UBC have their own hired guns in the media wars. Maria Loscerbo, the principal of the private communications firm Epic PR, is in charge of “mak[ing] sure that there is a coordinated message and to ensure that it’s done correctly so it isn’t fractured” (see her comment on the Report Card).
This became an issue on Steffenhagen’s blog after Ms. Loscerbo inadvertently sent a chatty message telling the academics to sit tight until she got the story straight (my gloss, not her words). Steffenhagen posted the email.
What has me curious is the fact that the Hertzman project is so big that they have hired outside help in managing their message. Research across universities is fast being driven in the same direction as business firms, larger, more complex, integrated and oriented at generating revenue. UBC has recently hired a former Best Buy exec to run the university’s finances. WHIle some suggest this is a good thing, the rest of us our left wondering about the real state of affairs when cost efficiencies and coordinated messages take the high seat over real research and teaching.
Education is sometimes measured in math scores or English skills, but my visit to the Vancouver School Board lobby Monday morning proved student accomplishment comes in countless, and sometimes surprising, forms.
In this case, wooden forms
Maria Loscerbo, a communications consultant (and amateur pilot, skier and media consultant to the premier on youth issues, and a range of other random google traces . . .) working for the Human Early Learning Partnership, really blew it and has drawn the ire of the Vancouver Sun’s education reporter, Janet Steffenhagen. Drawing the wagons close she ‘inadvertently’ sent an email to Steffenhagen that basically tells a UBC research group to keep their mouths shut until they craft a common story (see email below). Ms Loscerbo apparently holds not special concern for UBC staff communications personal either as she unceremoniously implies that Senior Manager, Privacy, Strategic Operations (Mapping) & Knowledge Management, Michele Wiens jumped the gun.
Steffenhagen posted the errant email on her blog with her own commentary on the matter:
Here’s my suggestion: Nobody should return Janet’s phone call until we decide what to do – Janet will probably try to call Clyde first, then Paul and Joanne.
“Let it go to voicemail, or, if you accidentally answer the call (Janet works from home so her actual name should show on your call display) , simply say you’re ‘not available to talk right now and will get back to her’. Get her coordinates and call me. Then we plan next steps, ideally schedule an interview with Clyde for Monday.
“Michele didn’t release any new EDI data – only background info that has already been published so we’re okay.”
Loscerbo quickly phoned to apologize. She said she is a communications specialist organizing release of the information, and the organization is not ready to talk about the new EDI. Wiens had “jumped the gun,” she added.
By the way Janet, I’ll answer your phone calls without having to call upon a high-price consultant to tell me to be quiet.