marketing is everything; everything is marketing… (even at DFO)

I’ve said it before and will say it again… marketing is everything; everything is marketing…

Mark Hume writing at the Globe and Mail yesterday:

At DFO, scientists turned to speechwriters in salmon crisis

After Fraser River sockeye salmon stocks collapsed in 2009, scientists at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans were pressured to write parliamentary speeches for government MPs, a federal commission has been told.

“This is the only time that I have seen a request of this nature in my career,” Laura Richards, Pacific regional director of science for DFO, said Thursday in testifying at the Cohen commission, which is investigating the decline of sockeye populations in the Fraser.

“Do you think it’s a role of DFO scientists to develop speeches for parliamentarians?” asked Bruce Wallace, senior commission counsel.

“The role of science is really to provide factual information, and that’s what we do,” replied Dr. Richards.

But documents filed with the commission show that after only about one million sockeye returned in 2009 – when more than 10 million fish had been expected – scientists were under the gun to help government MPs explain the crisis.

On Oct. 2, 2009, Terry Davis, DFO’s regional director of communications, fired off an urgent e-mail to more than a dozen officials.

“The bottom line is that Parliamentary Affairs has asked for 80 minutes of speeches to be developed on a range of issues related to Pacific salmon, for use by members of the government, in the event that an emergency debate on Pacific salmon is called in the House of Commons,” he wrote.

“In most cases, these types of speeches are developed by program staff [in Ottawa].… However, in this instance, as the subject matter experts on Pacific salmon are based here, the Region has been asked to develop the speeches,” stated Mr. Davis.

The order to write speeches for MPs came even though objections had been raised only a few days earlier when science staff were asked to produce a speech for the minister.

A Sept. 29, 2009, e-mail from Paul Ryall, head of fisheries and aquaculture management, to DFO regional manager Sue Farlinger states: “We are being requested to draft speeches for the Minister. I don’t think this is our role. I can see that we can supply information and also address questions to a speech writer, but not be the lead on drafting a Minister’s speech.”

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Here’s a nice accompaniment to this news article. It’s a recent blog post from marketing guru Seth Godin:

Protecting the soft spot

We all have one. Or more than one. It’s that place where we can get hurt, the one we seek to defend.

For some people, it’s a boss calling us out in front of our peers. For someone else, it’s an angry customer. For someone else, it’s being confronted with a problem you can solve–but that the effort just seems too great.

The key question is this: how much does the act of protecting the soft spot actually make it more likely you will be hurt?

It turns out that the more you angle yourself, the harder you work to protect the soft spot, the more likely it is that you’ll get hurt.

All the time and effort you put into ducking and hiding and holding and avoiding might be sending the market a signal… the irony of your effort is that it’s probably making the problem worse.


One thought on “marketing is everything; everything is marketing… (even at DFO)

  1. Brian

    Quote: “scientists were under the gun to help government MPs explain the crisis.”

    As usual, scientists with the best of intentions are the ones left to explain the shortcomings of government MPs (even those in opposition) who have failed the scientists…..not the other way around.

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