Better, but not there yet

The OBA improved on their handling of immigration PR recently, but they’ve still got a ways to go.

They aimed for consultation this time around and published a “final draft” of proposed work permit modifications.   This was a far preferrable move to no consultation and it’s an improvement.  They can still do better though as this approach garnered a hell of a lot of blow back including a pretty terrible headline in today’s paper: “Govt backs down on teen work proposal”

This isn’t the kind of PR they want.  They want “Gov’t hears citizen’s concerns” or “Gov’t revises draft based upon public input”.  The thing is, the papers are biased, they’ll sensationalize anything that sells papers.  Effectively the government did do these things but the perception management wasn’t where it needed to be.

An even better approach next time around would be do avoid announcing something as a “final draft”.  It gets perceived as very “final” and frames public opinion as if government is already decided on it and puts people on the defensive.  It also doesn’t give you any room to move or shift your stance based upon the feedback.  Instead, announce what you take to the public as a “preliminary draft” regardless of the official state on the basis that you want feedback from the public.

If, as with blogging, you get no feedback then it means you’ve done a good job.  If you get feedback, it’s likely criticism and something you need to re-evaluate to figure out whether you made your argument clear enough or if you the concept needs revision.  That way it seems less like its set in stone and more like you’re keen for feedback, that way it’s easy to back-paddle based upon negative feedback while saving face.

I think the OBA does deserve credit that compared to no consultation this at least was a leap forward.  Hopefully they’ll continue moving things forward and improving their overall approach.