Wanted: sealing guru

Canada’s Olympic mascots are meant to be cute and cuddly, but visit one anti-sealing website and you’ll see Quatchi angrily wielding a club and blood dripping from Miga’s snarling jaws.

PETA’s anti-sealing website features Canada’s Olympic mascots.

PETA’s anti-sealing website features Canada’s Olympic mascots.

OTTAWA — Canada’s Olympic mascots are meant to be cute and cuddly, but visit one anti-sealing website and you’ll see Quatchi angrily wielding a club and blood dripping from Miga’s snarling jaws.

The federal government is getting antsy about the beating it’s taking on sites such as www.olympicshame2010.com, run by animal-rights group PETA.

It is looking for its own social media guru to protect its reputation.

Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs posted a $75,000 contract for a “Social Media Reputation and Online Issues Management” adviser on the seal hunt.

The winning applicant would analyze YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other sites, and examine what techniques anti-seal hunt groups use to maximize their profile on Internet search engines.

On Facebook alone, a search of the terms “seal hunt” comes up with more than 500 hits, some of them groups with thousands of members with titles such as “Stop the Canadian Seal Hunt.”

Pictures or links to YouTube feature footage of seals being clubbed or their bloody corpses in the snow.

The department would like to “gauge the nature of discussions, the positive to negative percentage of dialogue and be positioned, if possible, to correct misinformation,” says the description.

The request for bids specifically mentions how “anti-sealing groups plan to leverage the visibility of the 2010 Winter Games.”

“The project goal is to allow the government to provide additional information including: correcting false information and dispelling myths about the Canadian the seal hunt,” said Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Simone MacAndrew.

Sheryl Fink, a senior researcher with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said she’s unconvinced the federal government will have much luck if it tries to insert itself into the digital dialogue.

“Facebook and Twitter, those things really are grassroots, and generally when a government or corporation tries to play that game they haven’t been very successful because people see it for what it is, which is communications propaganda,” said Fink.

But Andres Restrepo of Montreal’s Ressac Media says organizations concerned about their reputations ignore the “game changing” social media phenomenon at their peril.

They must monitor what’s out there, figure out whether it’s having a significant impact, and then respond quickly at the source before letting a negative discussion snowball into a public relations disaster, he said.

“There is a lot of content online that is commented on, reviewed and shared, so average people become editors of what’s going to become important on the media scene,” said Restrepo.

“With the seal hunt, the whole conversation, the point of view that is most exposed, is of those who are against the seal hunt … so the goal of the government with that contract is to win more of the market share of the conversation so we have another point of view.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Jason Kenney struck back at unruly protesters who chanted ‘lock her up’ in relation to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw on Monday. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Alberta Premier calls for ‘unhinged conspiracy theorists’ to stop threatening the chief medical officer

Spreading misinformation, making threats is ‘beyond the pale,’ said Kenney

An internal investigation by AHS revealed 3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly by two clerical employees in the diagnostic imaging department at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Employees access 3K patients’ records in privacy breach at Red Deer hospital

3,224 patients had their electronic health records accessed improperly

The Red Deer Boxing Club will be moving to a larger space, in North Red Deer. The programs need more room to grow, says founder Robert Carswell. (Photo by LANA MICHELIn/Advocate staff).
Red Deer Boxing Club is moving to north industrial site

The property was rezoned to accommodate recreational uses

An Air Canada Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet arrives at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Air Canada agrees to $5.9-billion aid package, giving Ottawa equity stake in airline

$1.4 billion earmarked to help reimburse thousands of customers

Innisfail RCMP say Brandon Pitts is missing. (Photo contributed)
Missing central Alberta man

Innisfail RCMP request public’s help

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

FILE - Rhian Wilkinson, left, and Melissa Tancredi of Canada’s women’s soccer team attend a news conference in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 13, 2017 to announce their retirement from the team. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Former Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson now part of England coaching setup

Wilkinson left Canada Soccer in January to join interim England head coach Hege Riise as an assistant

Canadian actor/producer/director Jay Baruchel is photographed at the 5 Drive-In Theatre in Oakville, Ont., ahead of the premier of Baruchel’s movie Random Acts of Violence, Wednesday, July 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston
Jay Baruchel to host Amazon Prime Video’s ‘LOL: Last One Laughing Canada’

Final comedian left standing wins a grand prize for a charity of their choice

Letters
Letter: Leaders like MLA Jason Stephan should work towards greater good

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan talks about the devastating social and… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Women, hit hardest by pandemic, key to economic recovery

Events of the past year have laid bare the many disparities and… Continue reading

Most Read