Podcast: Press Conference Pitfalls

Stephen Smart (centre) overseeing an interview after a press conference on Jan. 28 with BC Liberals leadership candidate Todd Stone (left). Laura Brougham photo

Holding a press conference has an infinite possibility of things that can go wrong.

Stephen Smart, a former journalist, former press secretary for Christy Clark, press secretary during the BC Liberals leadership race for Todd Stone, and current PR consultant, has been on both ends of press conferences that haven’t gone smoothly.   Sometimes things would go wrong, through no fault of his own.

During his time as a journalist he learned about how technology can affect a press conference.

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Stephen Smart applauding Todd Stone during his Jan. 28 press conference. Laura Brougham photo

” I was a reporter at CKNW, and I was at the Burnaby RCMP detachment covering some sort of horrible story. It was solemn you know it was one of those things where the last thing you want to do as a reporter is make any sort of a scene,” Smart said. “I look up about maybe 20 minutes press conference and I noticed at the podium is smoking and was horrified to discover that no the podium wasn’t smoking my tape deck was smoking.”

Working on Todd Stone’s campaign, Smart dealt with a human element that can’t be planned for while holding a press conference in Kelowna. The event was held before a leadership debate and Smart had set up the room to make Stone look like a premier.

“The news conference was crashed by these two protesters who unbeknownst to Todd Stone in his time at the transportation ministry had this feud with the ministry over a highway expropriation of their property,” Smart said. “I did not even want him to know about it but I figured I needed to tell him.”

“I very calmly told Todd about it he started to get worried, I said ‘no, no, no. Don’t worry. They’re gone, it’s alright, you’re going to get asked about it.’” Smart said. “I’ve got him in a good place and we’re about to walk into the news conference and one of the former MLA’s who was supporting Todd in this leadership bid comes running out of the room we’re going to have the press conference in this panic wanting to make sure that that that Todd knew about this, and I was like, oh, okay. He meant really well, but yeah.”

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Stephen Smart (left) talking with some attendees of the press conference on Jan. 28. Laura Brougham photo

Overall Smart has three tips for holding a successful press conference.

1. Plan, plan, plan

“Everything from like what’s in the backdrop,” Smart said. “Is it going to rain, do you have a tent on standby?”

2. Expect the unexpected

“What are your entrance routes, exit routes. What you know what if you know some massive story breaks two minutes before and all of the media leave ‘cause they have to go cover it.”

3. Expect things to go wrong, and roll with it

“Recognize that at the end of the day unless you’re doing a news conference about curing cancer you’re not sharing cancer and most things aren’t actually that big a deal.”


Hand washing prevents the flu, but Fraser Health employees have 87% hand hygiene compliance


Health care practitioners washing their hands is a step to staying healthy while working in hospitals. Photo by flickr user jar []

An influenza expert describes health care practitioners washing their hands during the flu season as an “obvious thing” that according to a recent report by Fraser Health, some employees aren’t following.

Recent report cards released by the health authority showed that across all 12 of their hospitals there was an average of 87 per cent compliance for hand hygiene. This number fluctuates between hospitals, with the highest compliance rate at Fraser Canyon Hospital with 97.6 per cent compliance, and the lowest at Royal Columbian Hospital, with 82 per cent compliance.

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The comparison of hand hygiene compliance by hospital according to the Fraser Health report card.

Hand washing helps to avoid catching the flu

Christopher Upton, a professor in biochemistry and microbiology at the University of Victoria and expert in the influenza said he would have thought health care practitioners washing their hands 100 per cent of the time would be obvious.

“Anything you can do to avoid getting infected yourself or infecting other people is good. It’s kind of an obvious thing I would have thought,” Upton said.

“I think that washing the hands is important for self inoculation because when you touch things you get it on your hands, then you touch your eyes, you poke your nose…I think it’s important to encourage.”

There is proof that hand hygiene helps to avoid catching the flu, according to Upton.

“I think the evidence is there that not just if somebody sneezes and the aerosol is there and you breathe it in,” Upton said.

“There is strong evidence that you essentially inoculate yourself, you get it on you, then you get it in your eye, then all the fluids that have been in your eye constantly drain through the sinuses into the throat and lung.”

Patients want higher compliance rate

Tina Taphouse recently visited the Langley Memorial Hospital and Surrey Memorial Hospital emergency rooms and said doctors don’t wash their hands in front of patients, so she has no way of knowing if they properly washed their hands.

“When you’re in emergency you don’t see them before they come to you, so I just assume that they would,” Taphouse said.

“It should be 100 [per cent compliance]. If you’re dealing with health and patients and food, it should be 100.”

Employee compliance has been on the rise since 2010, when Fraser Health reported a 38 per cent compliance rate, which Taphouse said she has seen an increase in information which might have something to do with those numbers.

“Definitely you can see more signage everywhere you go, and I guess there’s the education out there of telling us who aren’t in health care to be washing all the time,” Taphouse said.

HealthLink BC promotes hand washing

On the fact sheet distributed by HealthLink BC the first point on preventing the flu is regularly washing hands.

“Influenza spreads easily from person to person through coughing, sneezing, or having face-to-face contact,” according to the fact sheet.

“The virus can also spread when a person touches tiny droplets from a cough or a sneeze on another person or object and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.”

Fraser Health and the Ministry of Health did not respond in time for deadline.

Victoria’s Weeds Social Club at odds with neighbours

The dispensary has been undergoing the application process for a temporary use permit since 2016. Dank Depot photo

The future of Weeds Social Club in downtown Victoria could go up in smoke, depending on how City of Victoria councillors react to concerns from neighbours.

The dispensary, which is located at 1601 Douglas Street, currently have an application for a temporary use permit for the site, which is a permit allowing the use of a site for means other than what the current zoning bylaws allow. Several neighbours have voiced their concerns to the city about this site.

Martin Batchelor, owner of Martin Batchelor Gallery and neighbour of the dispensary, said the smell from the dispensary has affected people visiting the area.

“There’s a strong smell of marijuana that is exhausted onto Cormorant Street, and that frequently comes into the gallery,” Bachelor said.

“I have heard from people who have voiced an opinion that they don’t like the smell so they avoid the area.”

Customers disrespecting the neighbourhood

Richard Hamilton, a landlord with a unit down the street from the dispensary wrote to the city with concerns about the current clientele of the dispensary.

“The people who frequent this pot shop are on many occasions very disrespectful,” said Hamilton, recalling stories of people urinating in gardens and doorways.

“There are frequent arguments and altercations on the street between customers from this store as many debts are settled with regards to drug usage on the street.”

Code of conduct meant to address these concerns

When submitting the initial application to the City of Victoria, Shane Escher the owner of the store attached a member’s code of conduct that should address some of the concerns of Hamilton and Bachelor.

One of the items on the agreement requires members are not allowed consuming the product within a two-block radius of the store.

“Violation of any store policy will result in a temporary or permanent suspension of membership,” the code of conduct states.

Escher was not available for comment by deadline.

Schools within the 200 metre radius

Although there are no schools as a part of the Greater Victoria School District within the 200 metre requirement for an application, the Victoria Chinese Public School is 124 metres from the site, and is opposing the application.

“The Chinese school was founded in 1899, it is 118 years old and is still running as a school,” Kileasa Wong, principal of the Victoria Chinese Public School said in a letter to the mayor and council.

“I ask that you support your policy of no dispensary within 200m of a school.”

Vancouver pedestrian dies in parallel parking incident

A collision involving a white SUV and a 75-year old woman on Dec. 13 resulted in Vancouver’s fifth pedestrian fatality of 2017.

Shortly after 11:30 a.m. the driver was parallel parking on Slocan Street near East 20th Avenue, when he reversed into the woman crossing the street.

The woman later died in hospital.

The Vancouver Police Department are investigating the incident, and have said speed and alcohol do not seem to have played a part.

The driver of the SUV stayed at the scene, and is cooperating with police.

Pedestrian deaths are down from last year, when the city had 11 total in 2016.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

RCMP say missing Alberta man may be travelling to Victoria or Toronto

Canmore, Alta. RCMP have received information that lead them to believe a missing man may be travelling to Victoria B.C., or Toronto, Ont.

Vernon “Allan” Pickard has been missing since late November, and was last seen on Dec. 1 in Canmore when he checked out of the hotel and has not been in contact with friends or family since.

Police have received many tips about where Pickard might be but they do not know his current location.

Pickard is described as Caucasian, 53 years old, 5’2”, 110 lbs, bald with blue eyes.

The most recent photo available of Pickard is from 2011.

Anyone with information is asked to phone Canmore RCMP at 403-678-5516.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

UBC researchers using drones to look at aftermath of forest fire season

University of British Columbia (UBC) is using drones to look at the impact on B.C. forests after the worst forest fire season in the province’s history.

“The 2017 wildfire season was the worst fire season on record both in terms of overall area burned, as well as the largest single fire British Columbia has ever seen,” said Jeremy Arkin, one of the students working on the project and a UBC masters student in forestry.

The research team, Nicholas Coops, UBC professor of forestry and his students are working with FYBR, a Vancouver-based drone company.

“We are working on a range of sites in B.C. that address the needs of the forest industry. We have some spots on the coast where we’re going to be taking inventory of high-value timber, and in the Interior where we are capturing the 2017 fires,” Coops said in a statement.

Images taken with the drones will be used to make 3D models of the affected areas. This will be able to provide detail that satellite imagery and other surveying techniques can’t provide.

“Drones are a really exceptional technology that we’re starting to use more and more of: we can observe the effect and severity of the fire on each individual tree and use all this information to really understand the general patterns in which fires occur in B.C.,” Coops said.

It can be used for “other information like how much timber is left standing? Can that be salvaged and the condition of the dead timber? Whether that’s likely to be a good habitat for animals in the future?”

Patrick Crawford, FYBR CEO, said this is one other use for drones in a world that is turning towards using technology.

“I think just like a lot of industry today, big data and machine learning is key to how businesses are going to be optimal in the future,” he said.

“Drones are another tool to gathering huge amounts of data to better understand how our forests grow [and] how our world is changing.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

You get more out of giving a gift if you don’t expect anything in return, say SFU researchers

A new study from Simon Fraser University (SFU) suggests that you get more out of giving a gift, if you don’t expect anything in return.

SFU psychology PhD student Dylan Wiwad said that there are benefits to giving “selfishly” — like when you buy pizza for someone who helps you move — but it’s even better with no further expectations.

“Sometimes giving for selfish reasons can backfire, so to speak, in terms of our own our own well-being,” Wiwad said. “It’s just not as beneficial.”

Wiwad said he hopes to do another study that looks at the actual act of giving, but there are challenges that need to be addressed first.

“It’s really hard to tell somebody, ‘go and give for this reason,’” Wiwad said. “We can tell them how to spend the money, or how to give, but we can’t necessarily tell them why.”

Wiwad’s research is an extension of a 2008 study done by the overseeing professor, Lara Aknin, which found that more enjoyment is received out of spending money on other people, rather than yourself.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.