Martin here. This week, it’s Gini and me. Joe’s on the road traveling home.

And in the spirit of the season we thought we’d share our PR naughty or nice list for 2014.

First up: naughty.

And the lump of coal goes to…Edelman.

Really? Why?

Well, a Canadian company, TransCanada, hired the venerable agency to build support for a pipeline that will transport oil from Western Canada to refineries in the east. But when the agency recommended secretly using third-parties to attack the pipeline’s opponents and a document with the strategy was leaked to Greenpeace, TransCanada fired Edelman over ethical concerns.

Does this sort of program sound like a whisper campaign to you? It does to us.

Gini has written extensively about why whisper campaigns and other unethical tactics hurt PR. She likens the process to that of broken telephone, where what the last person hears is often very different from what was said at the beginning. Gini says that rather than sneaking through the back door, the profession should be open and honest. What do you think?

Now for our nice list.

Gini posed a question on Facebook asking people to nominate their suggestions the PR win of the year. She got a lot of replies including the Ice Bucket Challenge, Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift (Gini’s selection on SpinSucks) and WestJet.

We chose WestJet for an imaginative follow up on its successful Christmas Miracle video. Once again, the company borrowed elements of classic holiday movies and showed, in an emotional way, how much they care about their customers and community.

Here’s the 2014 WestJet video.

And here’s the one from 2013.

Which PR programs would you put on the naughty list? And which ones would you qualify as nice? We’d love to hear what you think.

Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the FIR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Google+ Community, join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoseph Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.


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Inside PR is produced by Ashlea McGrath.


  1. Hello Martin and Gini,
    I only have one question: early on in the podcast you say «according to the story». Did you actually read the Edelman strategy document or are you going only by the media reports? I read the document, twice, very carefully (was made available through CBC-Radio-Canada website), and I found no indication that bloggers would be paid, as was reported by some media (confusion here with advertising on social media). And what about third parties? What exactly is wrong with reaching out to people and groups who share your beliefs and provide them with information to support your position? When you strip away all the flashy vocabulary agencies this is what we’re basically talking about here.
    I personally believe the media gave Edelman and TransCanada an unfair treatment on this one. And we should be very careful not to sink our own canoe by adding to it.

  2. Martin Author

    Thanks for your comment and perspective, Guy. And apologies for taking so long to respond. I must have missed it. We based our discussion on reports we read on several media outlets. Interesting perspective. We based our criticism on the lack of transparency and that it sounds like an astroturfing campaign.

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