Christchurch City Council "statement" reported in the Press

Published: Fri 9 Aug 2013 09:34 AM
Momentus Public Relations Ltd Monitoring Observations
Council statement Press 01/08/2013 “$45m World Cup windfall on the line”
Community, Recreation and Culture Committee, Christchurch City Council
David Lynch, Principal, Momentus Public Relations Ltd
Thursday 8 AUGUST 2013
(Circulated to: Community, Recreation and Culture Committee, the Mayor, Councillors, Media & Communications Professionals)
Momentus P.R. Monitoring Observations are with respect to:
· the appropriateness of issuing the “statement”; and
· whether the process for issuing the “statement” complied with the Christchurch City Council’s best standard of professional communications
Monitoring Observations:
Christchurch City Council should, from a public relations standpoint, maintain circumspect neutrality while the Hagley Oval matter is before the Environment Court.
In my professional opinion:
·       The Christchurch City Council should, from a public relations standpoint, maintain neutrality while the Hagley Oval matter is before the Court. The Council must be professional and avoid the perception, in the public eye, of campaigning to influence proceedings.
·       The feedback I have received would clearly indicate that some members of the public have a mistaken view that you are campaigning. This decision has yet to come before the full Council for final approval and your actions could give rise to a public perception of bias.
·       In my professional view, it is professional and best practice for the Council to be circumspect, in relation to such a high-profile and highly-charged matter before the Environment Court.
However, assuming it was appropriate to issue such a statement, the Council falls well short of an acceptable and credible standard for the following reasons.
Lack of a Coherent and Credible PR Practice and Performance:
Lack of P.R. Coherency
·       A number of Christchurch City Councillors had no knowledge of this statement being issued and learnt of it when it appeared in “The Press”.
·       The development of Hagley Oval for an international cricket venue is a highly politicised matter. Had a statement been considered appropriate, any comment should have been made by the chair of the respective committee, in my view.
Lack of P.R. Credibility
(a) A Christchurch City Council spokeswoman (not named) is quoted as saying, “A $45 million windfall for the region is at stake if Christchurch loses its Cricket World Cup hosting slot, according to council estimates.”
·       I find it most surprising that no economic analysis has been done as yet, regarding the economic benefit if Christchurch were to host the Cricket World Cup, and that the quoted $45 million windfall is “based on similar events.”
·       The Christchurch City Council spokeswoman is not named and this undermines the credibility of the statement. PR Accountability is crucial in an issue that has such a high profile, publicly divisive (with both Pro and Anti group’s maintaining assertive PR profiles) and awaits Court determination.
1.      Who authorized the unnamed Christchurch City Council spokeswoman to speak to the media?
2.      Who is the Council Manager responsible/ accountable for the PR comment?
·       An assumption is made that out-of-town spectators will come to Christchurch, irrespective of whether the city has the ability to accommodate them.
·       Why is an unnamed Christchurch City Council spokeswoman making economic predictions, which I understand are a function of the Canterbury Development Corporation?
·       In my opinion, it is most unwise to use economic assumptions based on a ‘pre-quake’ event, particularly when international disaster recovery research clearly suggests that it takes many years before a city restores confidence in the minds of out-of-town visitors, whether domestic or international.
(Lack of Closure insuring continued Media Interest.)
(b) The article quotes the unidentified Christchurch City Council spokeswoman as saying, “The Christchurch City Council bid for the event with Canterbury Cricket because it could see the benefits in showcasing Christchurch, so the world could see the progress of the city by 2015.”
1.      If, in fact, there has been no economic impact study for the Cricket World Cup, on what basis can an unnamed Christchurch City Council spokeswoman make such a statement?
2.      How much was spent on bidding for the event?
3.      When and how was it approved and who authorized this expenditure?
The Adoption of Best Professional PR Practice and a Culture of Continual Improvement:
From a professional communications perspective, I find it most extraordinary that we have an unnamed council spokesperson making an (official statement) without any supporting economic evidence on a very high-profile and controversial matter that is subject to a Court determination, and still requiring a final Council sign-off.
The Full and Complete Adoption of the Price Communications Audit:
Finally, given the recent recommendation and the adoption of the Communications Audit, if this is an example of the Christchurch City Council’s best standard of professional communications practice, in my professional opinion, what has the Council learned!
Link to Press article “$45m World Cup windfall on the line”
David Lynch
Momentus Public Relations Ltd

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