View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – 1st Rule of Issue Management – Never Be Part of the Story

One of the first rules in political issues management is to never be part of the story.

Issues management works in the background, monitoring the news, briefing key staff on unfolding events, offering up counter-attack points and coordinating with communications staff as needed. The aim is to present your boss, in this case the Prime Minister, in the best light to the media and public.

This brings us to the Duffy trial. Why would anyone send the present Director of Issues Management, Nick Koolsbergen, to sit and watch the trial in person? Yes, I know he is supposed to be on leave for the campaign, but if all you wanted to do was watch, listen in an adjoining room and then write a briefing note or report back to the campaign, why be there in person?

Every word was pretty much available from several different reporters who were tweeting the questions and answers as the trial progressed. It could have and should have been followed from inside their campaign office. Doing it that way they would have received all the information they needed without becoming part of the story themselves and without offering the media yet another chance to go at the PM from a different angle on the Duffy trial.

To make matters worse, Koolsbergen was seen talking to one of the witnesses on a break. Really guys? It doesn’t matter that you worked together at one time or that you could be friends. Did no one stop and think about how this might look on the TV screens of the nation?

This little chit chat has given new legs to the story and considering much of the trial has been about scripting people with what they are to say to the media, did they not think the media and through them the public IE voters would be wondering just what was said and if there wasn’t some scripting going on?

Sometimes you just shake your head at how they operate. Is no one there thinking about potential repercussions or perceptions? Who is asking the “what if” questions? Such as what if you are seen talking to a witness, how will the media react or if seen talking to a witness, could the PM get questions on that or if seen would it reflect negatively on the campaign etc.

Remember, your job is to stay out of the story. Becoming the issue in the story doesn’t help your boss and only opens him up to further attacks, the exact opposite of what your job is all about.


  1. It almost looks like the Harper Cons want to lose this election.

  2. Author

    Or are getting sloppy as they get desperate….

  3. I think Harper is looking forward to spending more time with his family, and collecting on a pile of IOUs. He’s left his ugly mark on Canada already.

  4. Or desperate as they become sloppy.

  5. There was a time when journalism focused on presenting the news (facts) rather than attempting to manufacture the news (innuendo and speculation). We have allowed the media to digress into the “reality” zone where it has become a form of entertainment rather than an information source that it once was. The sad thing is that a certain segment of our population have stopped thinking on their own and thus believe more than half of what they read without verification or applying critical thinking. Relying on google searches to read and regurgitate other individuals perceptions (opinions). No small wonder this country is in its current state. We need to start using our own brains again to weed out all the erroneous and unsubstantiated and speculative reporting that we are bombarded by. Oh for the news to be factual once more, I won’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen however. Just being a little nostalgic is all I suppose. Life marches on and progress is movement not necessarily advancement.

  6. “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.”
    John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) British parliamentarian and author of “On Liberty”

  7. Yes David, those pesky reporters should stop asking embarrassing questions about the Harper Cons corrupt and deceitful ways. It just isn’t fair.

  8. Reporters should ask questions particularly where the public’s best interest is concerned. This should be a given to most intelligent individuals.

    What I stated had nothing to do with questions it had everything to do with the responses and how speculation was now considered by some as news and by the rest as merely drama and entertainment with little to do with the facts or reality.

    It is interesting to witness how such a simple observation stated can be so dramatically and purposely twisted. It only serves to support that many individuals are caught up in the mindless mentality of an ever increasing need to live their lives through the drama surrounding another(s). Sign of the times I am afraid to say. Change is not always for the better.

  9. “The trouble with our Liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn’t so”. Ronald Reagan

  10. And the prime minister shouldn’t restrict the questions to five a day from hand picked reporters. .

  11. More on (moron?) conservatives/conservatism from a couple of history’s greats:

    “There is always a certain meanness in conservatism, joined with a certain superiority in its fact.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs, who, however, has never learned to walk forward.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

  12. The Reformatories are circling the drain, and they know it. Harper will pull the plug on his political career in November. Doug Ford will win the leadership of the party and begin the long arduous process of rebuilding the party.

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