PR campaign in Canadian city marred by controversy

A city in Canada hired a PR firm to manage its public awareness campaign. What happened next is a step-by-step guide of what not to do.

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Hamilton started out as bucolic rolling farmland tucked in and around the Niagara Escarpment, purchased after the War of 1812.

Today it’s a bustling metropolis of a half million residents, give or take a few, and sits on the west end of Lake Ontario, an area know as the Golden Horseshoe.

But don’t let all those pretty names fool you—this is a heavily industrialized port city, populated by proud and feisty folk who don’t take kindly to smack talk about their little piece of Ontario.

Trust me.

They don’t call it “The Hammer” for nothing.

And the hammer’s coming down hard at the moment—aimed directly at the local government and the aforementioned Ottawa-based firm, Dialogue Partners.

Without boring you with the politics, the City of Hamilton decided to spend a fair chunk of taxpayer’s money—$376,000—on a campaign called, “Our Voice. Our Hamilton.” It hasn’t gone very well, to say the least. But it is a valuable learning experience.

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