The British Columbia government’s BC B-Sides Website is another West Coast experiment in brand journalism — a public relations technique where communications staff publish content that look like journalism, smells like journalism but is actually just advertising.
In this particular case, the stories on that Website are reworded government news releases that will “benefit, entertain and inform the public,” according to a communications plan for the project.
But even though B-Sides is meant to position the province as a “leader in using digital communications for public engagement,” a “thorough search” has found no correspondence about that Website sent to or from the government’s most senior communicators.
This, according to a response to a freedom of information request I filed on December 23, 2013:
Needless to say, I’ve asked the office of the information and privacy commissioner for British Columbia to review that search — as well as the government’s refusal to release information on how B-Sides “benefits BC Government’s long-term strategic communications.”
In the meantime, I’d encourage you to read the Times Colonist’s Les Leyne earlier take on that initiative — and others like it that were launched during the recent British Columbia election.
Leyne writes, “Media and political campaigns have been arguing with each other since time began, but the long-running feud is pretty much over. And we lost. The strategists don’t have much to complain about when it comes to media coverage in Election 2013, because they’ve taken over the job themselves.”