Rob Ford’s next moves: PR experts weigh in

Nov 1, 2013 | News

With the latest revelations from Toronto police, what public relations actions might Mayor Rob Ford take?

With the latest revelations from Toronto police, what public relations actions might Mayor Rob Ford take?

By Melissa Deeder and Shaan Mohamed

Revelations that the video of Rob Ford allegedly using crack cocaine actually exists — and is in the possession of police — have created a media frenzy surrounding the embroiled politician.

On Friday, questions were raised about what public relations steps Ford might, and should, be taking.

Already, Ford’s lawyers are saying they want Toronto police to release the video to the public.

It’s really a “if you really have it, show us what you have,” situation, said Toronto lawyer Sandra Zisckind with the firm Diamond and Diamond.

Ford’s lawyers are really saying “release it and we’ll deal with it,” she said.

They want to see the video in order to nitpick at specific allegations, John Crean, a managing partner in Toronto for National Public Relations, told Humber News on Friday.

“I suspect what they’ll say is that they can’t prove that it’s Rob Ford in the video. And, if that’s not the case, then they can’t prove that what he was smoking was actually crack.”

Will that strategy work?

“I think it’s a flawed PR strategy,” said Crean.

“There just can’t be this much evidence against him and all of it being some kind of conspiracy.”

Police Chief Bill Blair on Thursday revealed details about a lengthy, ongoing investigation into Ford’s occasional driver, Alexander Lisi.

Zisckind told Humber News that because police have said they’ve seen the video and are commenting about a public figure, “they should release it to the public.”

The video will likely become a matter of public record if there is a trial and the mayor’s next move depends on “what’s on the tape,” Zicksind said.

Perhaps the strategy would be to say he is “going into rehab or saying ‘I won’t do it again,'” she said.

The other avenue could be stepping down, she said.

“But until we know what’s on the tape I’m not sure,” she told Humber News.

Can his reputation be salvaged?

“That would be for the voters to decide,” said Annette Borger-Snel, Public Relations program coordinator at Humber’s Lakeshore campus.

“Certainly, the city of Toronto runs as any corporation would — and the actual reputation of a city needs to be front and centre,” she said.

“Rob Ford has some explaining to do and depending on what comes from that will dictate the next step,” she said.

“There are opinions being formed and in light of everything it would make sense to put the city first and step down, while everything gets sorted out,” said Borger-Snel.

“I think even those that have come to stand by his side will see that it’s not in their interest to continue to support him of defend him,” Crean said.

“If anyone is to push off a scandal it’s definitely Rob Ford,” Zisckind said.