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Social Licence 2.0 – the Lessons from Keystone and the Northern Gateway

Posted by Pierre on February 13th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

The events surrounding the Keystone and the Northern Gateway pipelines point to the emergence of social licence as a key business consideration.

When evaluating large scale development projects, decision-makers focused on the economic and regulatory aspects of the project. If both of these conditions could be satisfied, project leaders would feel confident with the decision to proceed.

Social licence – people consenting to a project in their community – has emerged from the regulatory shadow to become the third leg in decision-making on large scale infrastructure and energy projects.

The concept of social licence is not new. Municipalities have a lot of experience in this field as do natural resource companies. Yet, what was once a secondary consideration has become a primary consideration.

Why is social licence evolving?

The evolution of social licence is a function of the convergence of social, technological and political forces overtaking mature democratic societies.

1. Our concept of community has evolved

People accept the environment as something beyond borders or jurisdictional limitations. In many respects, we are all astronauts looking down at the earth and seeing it as one. When you add the Internet and the social network to the mix, community has moved beyond the purely local/regional to include national and even international.
Securing social licence once meant working with the local communities, often indigenous, to get approval to proceed. With today’s massive energy projects, organizations seeking social licence must now engage on a mass level. Keystone’s community is North-American. Northern Gateway’s is international.

2. Web 2.0 makes it easy for people to learn, organize and mobilize

People concerned about an issue or a project have access to low-cost or no-cost social networking tools that make it easy for them to find and join like-minded groups. There are over 600+ million Facebook users and Canada is number 10 on the Facebook users by country list. If you Google “Northern Gateway Pipeline” today, you’ll find “Pipe Up Against Enbridge” on the first results page. Canadians are connected and they know how to mobilize digitally.

Decision-makers who fail to understand the web 2.0 dynamic will find themselves facing an army of David’s with web 2.0 sling shots. “Spin”, the Goliath of public relations, is no match for the social web.

3. Our public processes don’t connect with popular expectations

Our current public consultation processes are based on public meetings and submitting letters. These processes have failed to adapt to people’s expectations around communications in the web 2.0 world. The websites that do offer consultations are seldom user friendly, often constrained by the imperatives of a corporate “common look and feel” and fail to offer the opportunity for authentic and open dialogue. In today’s communications environment, when concerned citizens and organizations come up against antiquated and poorly designed public engagement processes, they can easily set up their own.

4. Our regulatory processes have become lightning rods for public policy

Governments’ failure to engage in substantive and open conversations about complex public policy issues are pose a challenge our regulatory processes. We find ourselves in a situation where people passionate about environmental, social and economic issues are looking to participate in government-led conversations. In the absence of conversations about energy policy or climate change, our regulatory processes have become the lightning rods for social licence activity.

Is your .CA web site having a positive impact? Get recognized and win $5,000!

Posted by Keelan on February 8th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

[CIRA is a Thornley Fallis client]

Does your .CA change the world around you? Enter the 2012 .CA Impact Awards and take your place in Canada’s digital history.

The 2012 .CA Impact Awards are now open for entries.

Winners will receive $5,000 and promotional visibility in .CA communications. That would go a long way to helping a good cause!

We are looking for people who use their .CA websites to make a positive difference. Impact can be social, cultural, political, technological or economic.

There are four categories you can enter:

  • Public Sector and Not-for-Profit
  • eLearning
  • Small Business
  • Applications, including gaming and mobile

Visit our website to enter today.

Canadian Internet Forum: Have your say online and attend the event in Ottawa

Posted by Keelan on February 8th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

[CIRA is a Thornley Fallis client]

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has been hosting the second Canadian Internet Forum (CIF), a national forum for dialogue on the development, deployment and governance of the Internet in Canada since November 2011.

CIRA will be closing the online forum for the 2012 CIF on February 12, 2012 to prepare for the CIF national event. This means that you only have four days left to have your voice heard about the Internet in Canada!

We want to hear from you. Please visit and comment on one of our topics or start your own topic for discussion. Are you interested in security? Cost and speed of broadband? Digital literacy? The sovereignty of the Canadian Internet? Let us know today at

This is the second year CIRA hosts a national dialogue on the development of the Internet with the CIF. The 2011 CIF was the first opportunity of its kind for Canadians to have a say on how they would like to see the Internet develop.

On February 27, the results of the online discussion forum will be presented at a national event in Ottawa. The event will also be webcast. We are very excited that star of CBC’s The Dragons’ Den Robert Hejavec will be delivering the keynote presentation at the CIF event. A panel that draws from a diverse section of the Internet community will also be part of the event. Panellists include Micahel Geist (University of Ottawa), Steve Anderson (Open Media), Bill Graham (Internet Society), Bertrand de la Chapelle (OpenWSIS Initiative), and Frédérick Gaudreau (Sûreté du Québec).

Registration for the CIF national event is free and open to all Canadians. More information is available at

The result of the 2012 CIF will be a white paper for presentation to the international Internet Governance Forum (IGF), a United Nations entity where nations, the private sector and non-governmental organizations convene to discuss Internet-related issues.

If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me at

IABC Ottawa Event on Feb. 15th

Posted by Keelan on February 6th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

The future of Communications and Growing Influence of media

When two worlds collide…

Communicators and journalists tell stories, exchange information and connect with audiences. On one hand, journalists, reporters, publishers, editors and producers are (and have to be) critical of the information they receive in order to do their job well. Communicators on the other hand, must understand the opportunities and limitations to engaging in the journalistic process of story creation.

Furthermore, the communications landscape has changed; all companies need to become publishers and content creation and curation is the marketing of the future. No one understands this better than journalists.

Whether you’re working with the media, or work for a company engaged in ‘brand journalism’, this panel is for you. Join past and present broadcast and print media professionals for an engaged conversation about their experiences, advice and insight between the two worlds of communications and journalism.

Panelists for the evening are:

  • Paul Brent, former CTV Ottawa technology specialist and Tech Now Reporter/Producer and currently Senior Communications Strategist for market2world communications inc.
  • Janet Eastman, former host and producer of the only independent Canadian Business Television program: Ottawa Citizen Business TV and currently Director of Media and Communications fordrive2 Inc.
  • Sandra Blaikie, former anchor of ‘A News at Six with Sandra Blaikie’ and currently an independent consultant for her own company Sandra Blaikie Consulting Inc.

View the speakers’ bios

When: Wednesday, February 15, 2012, 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Where: Maxwell’s Bistro & Pub, 340 Elgin Street (upstairs)

Early Bird Registration (no later than midnight on Sunday, February 12, 2012):
$40 – members │$25 – students │$50 – non-members

Late and on-site registration, add $10.


CPRS Ottawa-Gatineau Forum – February 29th, 2012

Posted by Keelan on February 1st, 2012 Comments Comments Off

Take the Leap…from Good to Great! 2012 Forum is back and it’s happening on February 29, 2012 at the Ottawa Convention Centre.

We’ve gathered the best and brightest PR and media relations professionals in English and French to present you a stellar event! You will learn best practices from communicators at these top organizations:

  • New Democratic Party (NDP) ; Brad Lavigne
  • Canadian Olympic Committee ; Dimitri Soudas
  • Canada Post ; Anick Losier
  • McDonald’s Canada ; Jason Patuano
  • NATIONAL Public Relations ; Bruno Guglielminetti

Join us and our Master of Ceremony, Christina Lawand, for this intensive one-day event, the #PRMixer after party, and, of course, a great networking and professional development experience! You’ll walk away with the tools you need to put your organization ahead of the competition.

Registration is now open at Hurry up while seats are still available!

Next Third Tuesday Ottawa: Open Government with Tony Clement

Posted by Keelan on January 30th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

[The following is the event notice from Third Tuesday Ottawa]

Third Tuesday is back with another blockbuster speaker: President of the Treasury Board, Tony Clement on Tuesday, February 7th at the National Arts Centre.

Tony Clement is well-known as a politician who maintains an active Twitter presence, sharing what is on his mind and what he’s doing, and engaging in conversations with Canadians.

Tony Clement is also the President of the Treasury Board of Canada. That puts him in charge of Canada’s public service and makes him responsible for setting the standards and rules by which social media is being introduced into the Government of Canada.

As a Minister, Clement has pushed forward with initiatives to enable Canada’s public servants to use social media in the workplace and a broader initiative to introduce open government principles to the Government of Canada.

In just the past three months, Mr. Clement

That’s a lot of action in a short period of time. But, what’s happening now? How are the Web 2.0 Guidelines being applied by Canadian public servants? What did Canadians tell the Minister during the consultation? What’s on the agenda for 2012?

Third Tuesday participants will get a chance in February to ask these questions and talk directly to the Minister when he appears as our featured guest.

If you’re interested in open government and the use of social media by government, this session will be of real interest to you. I’m looking forward to a great evening of discussion with a man who has matched his actions to his convictions. I hope to see you there.

Thank you to our sponsors

Third Tuesday is a community-oriented, volunteer-driven event. And we wouldn’t be able to bring great speakers to Third Tuesdays across the country without the support of some like-minded sponsors. We’ve been lucky to have some great companies step up over the past several years to help us make Third Tuesday happen. Big thanks are due to CNW GroupRogers CommunicationsCanadian Internet Registration AuthorityRadian6 and Cision Canada for making the 2011/12 Third Tuesday season possible.

Student Admission

We want students to be able to participate. So, if you’re a student, simply present your valid student ID at the registration desk and we’ll refund your admission fee. Courtesy of Thornley Fallis.

Please Contribute to the Sens Foundation Energizer Night Skate

Posted by Keelan on January 19th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

As per my previous post, on January 27th, my son Peyton and I will be participating in the Ottawa Senators Foundation first ever Energizer Night Skate along the Rideau Canal as part of the NHL All-Star Weekend. Thousands of skaters wearing Energizer LED Headlights will light up the Canal as they skate 5km from Somerset Street to Bank Street and back.

All funds raised from this event will assist the Senators Foundation (the sole benefactor) with their plans to construct outdoor, NHL sized ice rinks in priority neighbourhoods throughout eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

So far, thanks to the generous contributions of friends, family and colleagues, Peyton has raised $505 and is listed as the second highest fundraiser on the Energizer Night Skate website. Having raised roughly half of that amount ($275), I am accepting defeat and throwing support behind my 3 year old. I encourage you to do the same.  You can donate to the Sens Foundation through Peyton here:

This is a great project targeted at providing under privileged children and youth in our region with access to the sport of hockey and increased recreational opportunities in their neighbourhoods.

Any amount you are able to contribute would be greatly appreciated and help the Sens Foundation achieve their goal for this fundraiser.

The Online Public Engagement Ecosystem

Posted by Pierre on January 19th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

The emergence of the social web and the changing expectations around public participation in decision-making are coming together to create the online public engagement ecosystem. The confluence of these forces is changing the practice of public involvement and public participation.
As you prepare to consult or engage on a public issue, here’s a quick overview of the pieces of the online public engagement ecosystem and some thoughts on the implications for practitioners and communicators.
The pieces of the online public engagement ecosystem
I would propose that the online public engagement ecosystem is composed of:
  • face to face consultation events (f2f);
  • your consultation website;
  • stakeholder and community websites;
  • news media websites and blogs; and,
  • social media websites and tools – Twitter, blogs, Facebook, discussion forums, and more.
The pieces are connected
The pieces of the online public engagement ecosystem are interconnected. What happens on one channel will impact and influence what happens on another channel. Understanding these connections and interactions will provide unique insight into people’s perspectives and attitudes.
Here’s an example of how this works in practice. Your local newspaper posts a story about your issue on its website. People use Twitter to share the story and a short thought on it. Someone engaged in your online consultation learns about the story on Twitter and posts a comment about the story on your consultation website. This comment sparks a conversation thread that sheds insight into one of your consultation issues. You then use the insight generated to help your consultation and communications team prepare for the next evening’s f2f public forum.
What does this mean for practitioners?
These connections are changing the practice of public involvement. Here’s what this means for you and me:
  • public involvement planning must plan for the ecosystem;
  • listening to and engaging with the ecosystem provides opportunities for  intelligence, insight and advice; and,
  • the ecosystem is “blurring the lines” between communications and public involvement.
Next up, thoughts on planning for the online public engagement ecosystem.
I’d welcome your thoughts. Please post a comment, or reach out to me online.

Senators Foundation Energizer Night Skate Fundraiser

Posted by Keelan on January 13th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

On January 27th, my son Peyton and I will be participating in the Ottawa Senators Foundation first ever Energizer Night Skate along the Rideau Canal as part of the NHL All-Star Weekend. Thousands of skaters wearing Energizer LED Headlights will light up the Canal as they skate 5km from Somerset Street to Bank Street and back.

All funds raised from this event will assist the Senators Foundation (the sole benefactor) with their plans to construct outdoor, natural NHL sized ice rinks in priority neighbourhoods throughout eastern Ontario and western Quebec.

The Senators Foundation believes in creating community resources, delivering programs and funding charitable organizations that provide healthy and safe sport & recreation opportunities to children and youth so they learn and grow outside of school hours.

You can show your support for this initiative by sponsoring me here:

If you don’t like me (highly possible), but still want to support the initiative, you can sponsor my son Peyton, who is 3 and will spend more time in a stroller than skating, here:

Any contribution you can make is greatly appreciated.

Thank you for supporting this great community initiative by the Senators Foundation.

What is Online Public Engagement?

Posted by Pierre on January 5th, 2012 Comments Comments Off

If you work in the field of consultations, public involvement or communications, chances are you are being asked to deliver an online consultation program. Welcome to the field of online public engagement – where communications and public consultation come together.

As a practitioner and presenter on the practice of “Online Public Engagement”, I thought it worthwhile to share the ideas and feedback gathered over the course of numerous presentations and discussions. This is a new and emerging field, and I would appreciate your feedback over the course of the journey.

First, let’s focus on a working definition of “online public engagement”.

A few thoughts on context

Before defining the concept, it’s best to start with the context surrounding communications and public consultations in a connected society. With social media and online news media, people now have the capability to easily and cost-effectively express their ideas and opinions about public issues that matter to them. They do this on their blogs, on community association discussion forums, on local newspaper website, or on the myriad of social networking sites available to them. If they are unhappy with an organization’s consultation process, they can mobilize online and set-up their own consultation.

What does this mean for consultation leaders and communicators?

Consultation leaders and communicators tasked with seeking public input need to understand two things about online public engagement. The first is that conversations about their issues are happening in social media and will be shared in online news media. The second is that if they want to engage people, they need to use the tools and methodologies to sync with society’s current communications and public participation habits. The upside of both of these is that they provide rich listening, learning and engagement opportunities.

A working definition of online public engagement

In light of this, I propose a working definition of online public engagement to be “the use of digital communications tools and public engagement methodologies to involve people in public consultation processes”.

Next up, the public engagement ecosystem

My next post will focus on a description of the constituent parts of the public engagement ecosystem – the pieces in the puzzle. If you would like a copy of the presentation, you can find it here on slideshare or you can send me a note and I will gladly share it.