Fake News: Assessing the facts in a climate of fiction

By: Sarah Del Giallo
Digital Consultant, Enterprise

Speaking at the Empire Club of Canada on Jan. 25 in a conversation with Sally Armstrong, CTV anchor and senior editor Lisa LaFlamme noted the term “fake news” seems to give readers “permission” to ignore information they’d rather not accept.

Permission to ignore something you don’t like. Permission to ignore someone you disagree with.

The Canadian media landscape is shrinking at an alarming rate, with falling revenues leaving newsrooms empty and remaining staff stretched to their limit. It’s an unsurprising result that’s been a long time coming.

When media outlets began publishing online, we stopped funding journalists and the work they produce — we stopped lending our dollars to the media machine. And now we’re paying for it.

With our newsfeeds flooded with unverified or flat-out false content from unreliable sources, our access to credible information has been drowned out in the process.

In my work as a journalist, my pride and purpose was rooted in the responsibility to inform. It was inspiring to be a part of a process that provides people with what they need to navigate their world in an informed way.

It was vital in my work as a reporter, and later an editor, to make sure we got it right. Check claims, names and numbers — never give a reader a reason, no matter how small, to doubt the quality or accuracy of the content.

But with reliable jobs in traditional newsrooms dwindling, our responsibility as media consumers has grown. The onus is on us.

It’s true, especially so today, that you shouldn’t believe everything you read. But you shouldn’t disregard it either.

We have to check the byline. Check the source. Is the outlet reputable? Do they post corrections when an error slips through? Use your skepticism. Be critical.

Don’t log anything in your memory as a “fact” or share it with others until you’ve done the work to verify it is indeed true.

“You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own facts,” LaFlamme said, recalling the words of late U.S. senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

Facts help form the basis for our sense of reality. Simply stated, they are sacred.

But you should still double check me on that…

Barbara Fox helps launch YMCA GTA Sweat for Good campaign

Enterprise CEO Barbara Fox recently participated in the YMCA of Greater Toronto (GTA) largest exercise ball demonstration/class, helping break the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title.

The record-breaking event was held on Jan. 11 to launch the organization’s “Sweat For Good” campaign, which Barbara is proudly supporting through her work on the YMCA GTA Board. Children, adults and fitness enthusiasts from across the city gathered to sweat the morning away in support of the campaign aimed at raising awareness about social issues.

“I’m honoured to be on the Board and a part of this campaign,” Fox says. “It’s an excellent cause and participating in a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD-breaking exercise class was a fun, fitting way to kick things off.”

According to the Sweat For Good webpage, sweat is universal; everyone can relate to it. No matter your gender, ethnicity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, income level, size or shape, everybody’s sweat is the same. But when you break it at the Y, it means more: it’s for positive change, for belonging, for potential, for hope, for diversity, for dignity. When people sweat together, they Sweat For Good – for the strength, drive and commitment behind all the social good that makes the YMCA possible.

The above video compilation from the event showcases the many dedicated people who came out to help break the record and Sweat For Good. For more information on the campaign, visit www.sweatforgood.ymcagta.org.

Enterprise selected for Government of Ontario Public Relations and Communications Services Pool

Enterprise has once again qualified as a member of the Government of Ontario Public Relations and Communications Services Pool – a position the firm has held since 1997.

The announcement follows a highly competitive process where agencies are required to produce an extensive written document and present their qualifications before an Advertising Review Board panel.

“Enterprise has been a proud member of the province’s Public Relations and Communications Services Pool since it was formed two decades ago,” says Barbara Fox, CEO of Enterprise. “The fact we’ve been successful in competing to maintain our membership through a time when our industry has evolved so dramatically is a testament to the work we do and the team we’ve built.”

Government ministries and agencies can access services of firms in the Pool without going through a formal RFP process.

To qualify, firms must demonstrate their understanding of government and ability to work with government ministries and agencies to deliver strategic communications, digital, media relations, public consultation and engagement, research, and related services in a rigorous open competition every three to five years.

“We’ve been able to do some interesting and important work through the Pool and we’re excited to continue to compete for work for the next several years,” says Jason Lietaer, President of Enterprise.

Over the past year, the firm has been selected through the Pool to work on a variety of projects, adding to its extensive portfolio of public sector clients, including dozens of ministries, agencies and organizations.

Dennis Matthews joins Enterprise

Enterprise is pleased to announce that Dennis Matthews has joined the firm as a Vice President, Marketing and Communications.

“Dennis brings a wealth of marketing, digital and communications experience to the firm from both the public and private sector. He has served as an advertising and marketing advisor in the Prime Minister’s Office, held a senior strategic communications role for a federal party leader and been involved in numerous election campaigns across the country. His private sector experience includes leading marketing and digital operations for a major media company in Toronto.”

“We are thrilled to have someone of Dennis’s calibre, experience and ability at Enterprise,” CEO Barbara Fox said. “He will bring invaluable insight in helping our public and private sector clients achieve their communications, marketing and public policy goals.

Dennis is a skilled marketer with a strong understanding of what it takes to effectively engage audiences and move opinion to generate measurable results.

“Digital strategies and tactics are critical in delivering successful communications and public affairs campaigns,” Enterprise President Jason Lietaer said. “Dennis has spent his entire career working and demonstrating excellence in this area. We’re thrilled to have him.”

Enterprise’s philosophy is to look inside, find the emotional barriers to effective communications and the drivers that will overcome them.

“We’re able to look inside because our consultants come from the inside, at senior levels in government, journalism, and public affairs. Dennis brings a unique senior insider’s perspective to help ensure our clients’ success,” Lietaer said.

Enterprise is a leading Canadian communications, public relations and government relations firm with offices in Toronto, St. Catharines and Ottawa.

Enterprise heads to Vancouver for Push for Change Finale

Enterprise’s Kathryn Lawler is spending the week on the west coast to assist with the final leg of The Push for Change, a cross-Canada walk for youth homelessness, which wraps up this week in Vancouver.

Founded by Joe Roberts, who was homeless as a youth but turned his life around to become a CEO, The Push for Change helps raise awareness and funds for the 35,000 Canadian youth still living on the streets.

“I’m so glad to have been a part of something so crucial to Canadians,” said Lawler, who’s been working closely with one of Joe’s largest supporters and sponsors, The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA Canada), which has been instrumental in helping The Push for Change rally support across the country. “The support Joe has received so far from local residents, media, government officials and organizations like UA Canada has been amazing.”

Lawler will be present as Joe’s walk comes to a close and will be documenting her time in Vancouver with The Push for Change online. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kathrynlawlr for updates from her trip, in addition to Enterprise’s Twitter and Instagram.

The walk is personal for Joe, who was once homeless and a frequent drug user on the streets of Vancouver. Through the help of a police officer, hockey coach and his mother, Joe was able to get clean, return to school and make his first million by 35.

Lawler and Enterprise have worked together with The Push for Change team to garner massive media coverage across the country in the past twelve months. The efforts have resulted in more than 480 media hits and more than 82 million media impressions since August alone, and are set to reach higher numbers as the walk culminates this week.

Raising more than $500,000, Joe has been endorsed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, named one of Shaw’s 50 Outstanding Canadians and has engaged in more than 500 community events across the country since beginning his walk on May 1, 2016 in St. John’s, Nfld.

Alongside thousands of expected supporters, Joe will complete his final nine kilometres through downtown Vancouver on Sept. 29 – a major milestone for Joe and all who’ve supported the initiative.

“This project will always be close to my heart,” Lawler said. “It’s not everyday that you get to be part of such a special movement. My favourite memories are talking to journalists and helping tell the story about the impact Joe is having on Canadians and beyond. We’re so lucky to have an advocate like him doing something so positive.”

More information on The Push for Change can be found here.

Enterprise CEO Barbara Fox To Receive Public Affairs Association of Canada’s Award of Distinction

Enterprise CEO Barbara Fox is being recognized for her longstanding contributions to public affairs in Canada and continued dedication to innovation in a changing landscape.

Fox will receive the Public Affairs Association of Canada’s (PAAC) Award of Distinction at its annual conference on June 6, joining an extensive list of prominent Canadian public affairs leaders, including former Enterprise Vice Chair John Weir, Elyse Allan, Steve Paikin, Greg Lyle, Robin Sears, Dick Pound, Angus Reid and Honourable Hugh D. Segal, C.M.

“It’s a privilege and honour to be selected by PAAC for this award,” Fox said. “I’m proud of what our firm has accomplished. It takes creative ideas and integrated solutions that challenge traditional models to succeed in today’s environment, and I’m pleased to be leading a team that’s embraced that so well.”

The award comes at a significant time of change in the industry and for the firm, which recently went through a rebrand and expanded its practice areas, adding new talent in digital, municipal affairs, Indigenous relations and content production to a growing team.

“Our new brand and Look Inside philosophy truly represents the work we do,” Fox said. “Our clients come to us with an issue or challenge, and they all have barriers preventing them from reaching their goals. We Look Inside to reveal those barriers and help them succeed.”

Since 2001, PAAC has presented the award to a member of the public affairs community who, over their career, has made a significant contribution to industry in Canada.

Award winners must have skills in managing complex issues, dealing with diverse constituents and stakeholders, maintaining professionalism during crisis situations, and demonstrating innovation, leadership and professional integrity in the public affairs field.

Fox has successfully led her team through massive changes in technology and approaches in its work for some of Canada’s largest organizations. As a result, Enterprise has emerged as a firm with a unique combination of experience, expertise and capabilities.

“Barb is fantastic. She is dynamic, smart and one of the most effective leaders in Canada,” said Jason Lietaer, President of Enterprise. “I’ve never seen anyone manage people or issues better, and I’m proud to call her a friend and a partner.”

Fox will make an acceptance speech during the Award of Distinction luncheon at the PAAC conference on June 6 at St. Andrew’s Club in Toronto. This year’s theme, The Art and Science of Public Affairs, coincides with Canada 150 and will provide an opportunity for public affairs professionals to reflect on how the field has evolved and what’s in store for the future.

For more information on the award and the conference, visit www.publicaffairs.ca.

About Enterprise  

Enterprise is a leading Canadian public affairs and strategic communications firm with expertise in government relations, public relations, digital and content production. For more information visit www.enterprisecanada.com.

For media inquiries, please contact: jblay@enterprisecanada.com

Toronto to host the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2018

Toronto will host the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the world’s largest interfaith gathering, in November 2018, the organization recently announced.

The seven-day event has in the past featured appearances from luminaries like the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi and President Jimmy Carter.

Enterprise provided media relations, government relations, event support and content creation for the Parliament of the World’s Religions announcement, which was made at Toronto City Hall on May 2, 2017.

This work included a series of social media videos and footage from the announcement being used across the Parliament’s digital channels.

Last held in 2015 in Salt Lake City, the Parliament was attended by more than 10,000 people. When it comes to Toronto in 2018, it will mark the first time the event has been held in Canada.

“The most diverse religious gathering in the world is coming to the most diverse city in the world,” says Dr. Rob Sellers, Board Chair of the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

Toronto Mayor John Tory added his support for a Toronto Parliament, saying: “Nowhere is our diversity more evident than in the variety of places of worship you can find in communities across Toronto. These institutions are an integral part of the social fabric of our city . . . [and] our faith communities help build bridges of mutual understanding and make Toronto a welcoming place for people of all beliefs.”

At the most recent Parliament held in 2015, 75 nations and 30 faiths encompassing more than 200 unique spiritual, indigenous, and secular traditions were represented, creating a cultural hub that took over the city for week-long discussions, workshops, and events.

Watch the video recap from the announcement below and visit www.parliamentofreligions.org for more information. To download the press release, click here: POWR_MediaRelease_May1.

Enterprise’s Kathryn Lawler Wins Public Relations Award at 2017 CPRS ACE Awards Gala

Enterprise public relations and public affairs coordinator Kathryn Lawler was recognized for her public relations work at the Canadian Public Relations Society’s (CPRS) 2017 ACE Awards Gala.

The annual event  celebrates the best public relations practitioners in the Greater Toronto Area, recognizing communications campaigns in various categories, including events, media relations, digital media and student accomplishments.

Lawler, who joined the firm in September 2016, was part of a group of Humber College graduates that received a Bronze award in the Student Public Relations Communications Plan of the Year category for their work on Winners’ Millennial Success campaign. The award recognizes a student or student group for excellence in communications planning.

TJX Canada asked Humber public relations graduate students to create an integrated marketing communications plan aimed at evolving Winners’ perception among millennials. Lawler’s group developed a plan that included media relations, social media, experiential and events components.

The group was chosen as the top student pitch of their section and went on to pitch TJX Canada’s Executive Suite. Some of their ideas have since been implemented by the company, including elements of the group’s Snapchat strategy.

Since joining Enterprise, Lawler has played a key role in various public relations, digital, issues management and public affairs projects for a wide-range of the firms’ clients.

Tolling Debate Wages on at Empire Club

In December, Toronto Mayor John Tory announced a $2.00 per ride toll on both the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway. This came as a response to a $2 billion price tag put on the improvements to the Gardiner and $33 billion in unfunded infrastructure projects across the city.

Surrounding cities and commuters from the 905 were clear, they did not want to pay to improve transit in Toronto. Tory fired back that 40% of the 230,000 vehicles that travel the Gardiner every day come from outside of Toronto. In December, Toronto Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of pursuing the tolling option.

To proceed, Legislative approval was needed from Queen’s Park. Unfortunately for Mayor Tory, Premier Wynne held a news conference on January 27 in which she nixed provincial approval for tolling the two highways. She took the sting out of it somewhat by announcing a doubling of the municipal share of the provincial gas tax, from 2% to 4% – roughly $170 million additional revenue for the city.

So what’s next? Are there tolls in the GTA’s future? The 2018 election is approaching quickly, will cash strapped governments revisit this debate?

Find out what the experts have to say at the upcoming Empire Club of Canada panel event, For Whom the Road Tolls on February 8 at the Arcadian Court. A blue chip panel will be presenting expert advice not yet heard widely in Toronto, and arguing the pros and cons of tolling. Panelists include: Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, Toronto Councillor Josh Colle, Teresa Di Felice – Director of Government Relations for the Canadian Automobile Association (South Central Ontario) and Mahrokh Arefi – CEO of worldwide tolling technology company Emovis US.

The moderator is Rod Phillips, Chair of Postmedia.

Tickets are available online: https://www.empireclub.org/events/

This event is sponsored by: Residential & Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, Bestpass Inc., Enterprise Public Affairs and Mr. Discount Ltd. (Enterprise represents Emovis)

Enterprise’s Tiffany Gooch joins Ontario Liberal Party Executive Council

Enterprise consultant Tiffany Gooch has been acclaimed Secretary of the Ontario Liberal Party’s (OLP) Executive Council at this weekend’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Ottawa.

Gooch brings extensive experience working in the provincial government to her role as Secretary, having previously assumed increasingly integral roles in the OLP Office, Constituency and Queen’s Park MPP’s Offices, Minister’s Offices and the Office of the Premier. More recently, Gooch has been a key member of the government relations team at Enterprise and its Ottawa-based arm, Ensight

She also previously served on the Executive of the Ontario Women’s Liberal Commission (federal and provincial), on the Board of Governors for the University of Windsor, and currently serves as the Chair of The Reading Partnership Steering Committee.

“I’m thrilled to be taking on this new role and I’m looking forward to working with the everyone the Executive Council team,” Gooch said from the OLP AGM in Ottawa. “It’s a big full-circle moment for me, having started my political career as staff at the Ontario Liberal Party office.”

Gooch officially begins her term as Secretary at the conclusion of the AGM on Nov. 19. The new role also puts her on the OLP Management Committee.

“There is a lot of work ahead and I will be working closely with the campaign team over the next few months as I transition into the role,” Gooch said. “The campaign leadership, caucus members, returning and incoming Executive Council board members have given me a really warm welcome.”

The Secretary position is one of 14 Executive Council positions and 26 Area Coordinator positions that were elected and acclaimed at the 2016 OLP AGM, which took place from Nov. 18-19 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa.