2018 Amazon PR Bestsellers List

I am pleasantly surprised to see that my book once again made it to the Amazon PR bestsellers list. The honour of being on the list is fleeting, so I'll enjoy the moment while I can. 

Amazon listed When the Headline Is YOU: An Insider's Guide to Handling the Media as #50 in the top 100 PR bestseller category. When the Headline Is You focuses on how best to communicate difficult issues and answer tough questions. 


Faigie Schmidt Libman's Story

While I was recently recording a voiceover for the upcoming documentary “The Last Nazi Trials,” the film’s director Matthew Shoychet told me about Faigie Schmidt Libman. Faigie is a Holocaust survivor, now living in Toronto. Born in Lithuania, Faigie cannot forget the day SS Master Sergeant Helmut Rauca murdered 10,500 people in her village. Faygie survived and was sent to a concentration camp. After spending a few years in a displaced person’s camp following the war, Faigie moved to Toronto and built a life for herself.

But she was reluctant to talk about her horrific experience, until the day she opened the Toronto Star and discovered that Rauca, had been arrested for killing 11,500 Lithuanian Jews.  What’s more, she discovered that Rauca had for years been living only a few blocks from her Toronto home.

Hearing Faigie’s story moved me greatly because as a reporter in the early 1980’s, I found and exposed Helmut Rauca, brought him to the attention of the authorities and had him extradited for trial in Germany.

Here’s Faigie’s story


Don't Stand on the Sidelines When it Comes to Framing Your Narrative

Some people in the news think the best way to manage their issues is to avoid media. Wrong. Standing on the sidelines gives other players in your story the opportunity to frame the narrative.  But as I told The Western Producer, only engage the media when you know your story inside out.


Jeff's Interview with Farmscape on 'When the Headline is YOU'

The recent 2018 Banff Pork Seminar was a great success. I learned a lot about the pork sector and its importance to the Canadian economy. I’m grateful I was invited to speak. After delivering my presentation on dealing with media in a crisis, I was interviewed for Farmscape Radio. The subject, fittingly enough, was what to do when the headline is you


My Time at the 2018 Banff Pork Seminar

I had the pleasure of presenting to 750 delegates at the 2018 Banff Pork Seminar this week. Pork industry representatives from around the world gathered to hear experts discuss genetics, antibiotics, futures - you name it.  Canadian pork supports our agricultural economy and is a key export.  

As keynote speaker, my presentation was less high-brow. I pulled back the media curtain to reveal  how news is made, manipulated, and managed. You see, when media report on the pork industry, it’s usually for a bad news story, like an animal welfare issue.

My 45-minute talk offered strategies to frame the media narrative, especially when public trust is at stake. Special thanks to Ben Woolley for volunteering to be interviewed in front of hundreds of people. Ben did great! 30 minutes after conducting Ben’s interview, my colleague Richard Maxwell  turned the interview into a radio news story.  The audience had opportunity to witness the interview and moments later, hear the precise news story that resulted.  As always, Richard’s rapid turn-around radio report blew the audience away.

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Keynote at the 2018 Banff Pork Seminar

I'm honoured to be keynote speaker Wednesday at the Banff Pork Seminar in Alberta. Hog production is a vital component of Canada's agricultural economy -- and a vital export worldwide. 

At the same time, the sector confronts many tough issues including animal welfare and housing concerns. I'll focus on how the pork industry can best manage its reputation especially when the news isn't good.


The Globe and Mail and it's Fight Against Fake News

Only one third of Americans polled by Gallup say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the news media.  The numbers are likely similar in Canada. Fake news being the concern it is, the Globe and Mail has joined a consortium of international media designed to enhance transparency and trust.


Reporters and their Tactics - Be Prepared for the Focus to Stray

Just because a reporter tells you the focus of an interview beforehand, does not mean she is obliged to stick only to that focus. 


When I was working on my investigation of nursing homes I told the administrator of one derelict home that my focus was to heighten awareness of what life is like in a nursing home, in terms of accommodation, food, physiotherapy etc. To ensure I kept to my word I asked questions on those subjects for the first ten minutes of the interview. Then, when the administrator's guard was down, I hit her with questions about abusive staff, stolen property, lousy food, bedbugs and so on. At least she couldn't say I misled her. 

Allegations, Disarming Statements of Contrition, and Social Media's Part in it All

Louis C.K.s expression of contrition threw many people for a loop. 


Since the anti sexual harassment campaign ramped up, offering new names every day, we've been hearing responses involving denials and threats of legal action. Louis' response was almost disarming. 

There is absolutely no excuse for behaviour that may in fact be criminal.  What Weinstein, Ratner and Spacey are accused of doing is heinous, no doubt.

But what about allegations against others that may simply stem from mischief making - like current claims against Jeffrey Tambor? 

All it takes to destroy a life these days is an allegation - truthful or otherwise - that can go literally go back decades. 

Recently, a British cabinet minister resigned because in 2002 he touched a woman's knee. Inappropriate as that may be and presuming that's all he did, does that justify ending his career?

Social media (a curse more than a blessing) swiftly produces a groundswell of indignation that immediately writes people off and vilifies them in all ways possible - be they guilty or not. Whatever happened to due process?

Frame Your Narrative

Frame your media narrative before others do it for you.  When reporting controversial news, journalists frequently drive the narrative by casting predictable characters who include the victim, villain, hero, witness, expert and village idiot. By casting characters, reporters are able to to do their research on the run while they write history in a hurry. For example, in the Wells Fargo debacle involving the creation of fictitious accounts, the characters are as follows:

Victim – Wells Fargo clients

Villain – Wells Fargo

Hero – Senator Elizabeth Warren

Witness – Whistleblowers

Experts – Governance, compliance

Village Idiot – CEO John Stumpf

For Wells Fargo to have gotten ahead of the scandal, it should have been quicker in acknowledging the wrongdoing. By the time the CEO apologized, the narrative was firmly set.

5 Critical Media Training Tips

It’s getting harder every day to be an effective spokesperson.

When speaking with a reporter be wary of common tricks they use to get you to say something you shouldn’t. If they ask a question and you don’t know the answer, don’t guess or pretend you know what you’re talking about. A journalist might also ask you a theoretical question, but don’t fall for it. It’s inevitably a trap.

Just because you don’t like the question doesn’t mean you can ignore it. 
Refusing to answer makes a spokesperson look guilty.

Reporters are trained to be disarming, and they might make a spokesperson feel so comfortable that you think you’re talking to a friend. Everything you say, especially the very last question is fair game and can be used against you. Assume the video camera or recording device is on at all times, and be particularly wary of wireless microphones attached to your lapel. Muttering under your breath can be heard, and it counts. Just because the video camera is pointing away or to the ground doesn’t mean the reporter can’t hear you and won’t use the “sound bite!”

It’s OK to ask a journalist to repeat a question if you don’t understand it. They might ask it in a different way that makes it easier for you to answer, plus, while they are figuring out a way to rephrase the question for you, it buys you time to think.

5 Communication Tips from Jeff Ansell to help you be a better spokesperson;

  1. Don’t speculate or answer a hypothetical question
  2. Never say “No Comment!”
  3. There’s no such thing as “Off the Record”
  4. Presume you’re always being recorded
  5. Don’t answer a question you don’t fully understand
    *ask for clarification or rephrasing of the question