Memo to Queen’s Park public relations practitioners: Don’t hold a technical briefing for media followed by a news conference when there is nothing essentially new. That’s kind of what happened today when media were summoned to a virtual technical briefing –with this enticing notice:
Nancy Naylor, Deputy Minister of Education, and senior ministry officials will hold a technical media briefing via teleconference to provide an update on the reopening of Ontario schools. A question and answer period will follow the briefing. All information provided is non-attributable and for background use only. The memo was issued at 9:17 am for a 9:30 start, which meant many reporters had already received other assignments. And just another note to spokespeople: you negotiate in advance with reporters that remarks are non-attributable—you don’t demand it in a media advisory.
Whatever was revealed at the technical briefing , it did not include a firm date for the resumption of in-person classes in the so-called “hot zones” where most of the people in Ontario live. As a result, Education Minister Lecce was greeted with this question to kick off his news conference:
Another question reporters at Queen’s Park have been asking unsuccessfully for months is how decisions are made for opening and closing of public facilities. What are the exact metrics?
And then there is the issue of not only announcing, but RE-announcing somebody else’s funding as if it’s your own. It turns out sometimes reporters are paying attention.
It sounds like the government is leaning towards opening schools next week but want to watch the COVID numbers for a few more days. They also want to make sure the school boards are set up to do rapid testing. Given the lack of definite information a news release probably would have been a better idea.