Image: Radio-Canada

Anyone interested in how to ruin a major brand-related announcement should study how Radio-Canada launched Ici and the immediate fallout. Heritage Minister James Moore appears to be quite irritated by the whole thing. It got loads of negative media coverage, including this editorial. It caused many supporters of public broadcasting in Canada to doubt the credibility of CBC/Radio-Canada and of its senior management. Not exactly the impact Ici’s creators were hoping for.

From a communications perspective, here are five questions those managers should have asked before the Ici launch:

  1. Stepping back from the details of the Ici brand, ask yourselves: Do we fully understand the larger context of removing the name Canada from your branding and journalism? Are we prepared accordingly?
  2. Consider your key stakeholders – starting with the federal government that is in the process of defunding and harassing you – and make sure they’re informed, in the right way, at the right time. Are you prepared to explain in a clear and compelling way why Rad-Can will now be known as Ici? What about other groups such as Rad-Can and CBC employees, unions (which are particularly pissed about the cost of at least $400,000 in the midst of budget cuts), Francophone groups, the media, broadcasting support groups, and even the opposition parties?
  3. Consider your specific explanation for why the word “Canada” is no longer necessary for a broadcaster that serves Francophones across Canada? After multiple explanations from CBC VP Bill Chambers, it is still as clear as mud.
  4. Consider the issue environment and factors affecting public broadcasting. Ensure that you’re not making the announcement at the same time as, for example, a Tory Backbencher quit the party caucus over the Conservatives sucking the life out of his accountability and transparency bill that would have affected CBC/Radio-Canada?
  5. Ask yourselves: Hey, is this even a good idea? Why do we need to do this? What is wrong with the Radio Canada brand? What’s the urgency? How is creating Ici going to provide better programming and service to Francophone Canadians? How can we – in the broadest sense – justify this decision?

This whole issue pains me. I used to work at the CBC and I know that its employees don’t need to be reminded again of the ineptitude of senior management in a time when budgets are being cut and a cultural battle is being waged against public broadcasting. As a supporter of public broadcasting, I can only shake my head.

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