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Redford’s Keystone PR campaign snubbed by Washington press

Alberta Premier Alison Redford arrives for meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 10, 2013.


When Alison Redford went to Washington with a message on Canada's Keystone XL pipeline, nobody wanted to listen.

Attempts to get the former Alberta premier on the big news networks and in Washington publications went nowhere even with the help of a former Hillary Clinton aide, according to U.S. federal documents made public this week.

The province paid a public relations shop co-founded by the ex-Clinton staffer $53,725.10 (U.S.) to get Ms. Redford in the media spotlight during her April, 2013 visit. The firm's strategy was to recast the Keystone debate so that it was no longer perceived as "environmentalists versus Canada, good versus bad," the documents said.

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"It is important to reframe this as an American issue so that it starts to take on a more positive currency in the media and thereby becomes relevant to the American public (not just the environmentalists)," the public relations firm Feverpress said in a memo to Alberta's contact in Washington.

"Winning the war here is providing enough political cover for the U.S. government to greenlight the project – not winning over the environmentalists."

TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, which will bring crude oil from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is in limbo. The Obama administration has delayed making a decision on whether to approve the pipeline multiple times.

The New York-based firm said the quickest way to get Alberta's message amplified in Washington was to get on the "echo chamber of cable news" which it said would form the basis of its strategy.

Feverpress wanted to get certain journalists at The Washington Post, The Economist, Financial Times and Politico to write stories that would incorporate its key messages, such as job creation related to Keystone and the environmental strides that the province was making to mitigate the negative impact of the oil sands, the documents said.

The firm tried to book Ms. Redford on popular shows and with high profile interviewers, including CBS's This Morning, CNN's Piers Morgan, PBS's Charlie Rose and CNN's Fareed Zakaria.

During the weeks surrounding Ms. Redford's April 2013 trip to the U.S. capital, the firm contacted more than a dozen people at CNN, National Public Radio (NPR), ABC, PBS, NBC and Politico.

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Most of the firm's attempts failed, though it had some discussions with NPR and Politico about scheduling an interview, according to the documents.

The documents can be viewed here and here.

Most of the firm's attempts failed, though the documents show scheduled interviews with NPR and Politico.

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About the Author
Economics Reporter

Rachelle Younglai is The Globe and Mail's economics reporter. More


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