I believe forty years in the realm of politics in different roles and capacities combined with professional accreditation in Public Relations equip me to voice my opinion on what is happening locally in respect to “Development”.
Baseball pitchers, skilled snooker/pool players and bowlers in cricket, know how to “put a spin” on a ball to win an advantage over an opponent. “Spin doctors” of any kind know how to “spin” messaging to the advantage of their campaigns. Spin is applied to any situation where there is a need to influence public opinion towards a specific direction. People are influenced by repetitive messages Let’s say, for example, one wanted to “spin” the benefits of investments in land or real estate.
Suggestion: “Large investments in real estate developments will automatically result in increased employment, increased prosperity and growth in the local economy.” “Condo developments are “really exciting” for the city.” “We’ve sent the message we’re open for business and they’re investing.” “It’s going to create thousand of good-paying jobs, including construction and trades jobs. It’s going to service the growth in Niagara”. Say something often enough, convincingly enough, with enough enthusiasm and, eventually, people believe it.
Are you hearing the message? Are you beginning to recognize the “spin”? Are you believing what you are seeing and hearing in the quotes and sound bites? It is worth being aware that extreme spin with large claims can become scam. Clever spin, repeated sufficiently, results in people accepting what they are told and not questioning anything.
An essential element in “selling” a speculative proposal is the exclusion of specifics, which might be questioned. It is essential because identified specifics, which do not materialize, could come back to haunt those who promise them. If jobs are promised, people expect to see more jobs to answer the need for full time, dependable employment. Promises of prosperity and economic growth carry great appeal in an economically depressed region; therefore this must be a great proposal/opportunity – right? If the “spin” is effective people don’t think to ask, “How is this going to work precisely?” Who is going to benefit from the promised jobs, what are the jobs?” How exactly it this proposal going to benefit the City/Region?” “What are the details of how this “growth plan” will be implemented and over how many years?”
“Spin” is an excellent deflector of attention, something like a conjuring trick; focus the attention of the audience on something other than the sleight of hand needed to perform the trick. People in the Niagara Region are being exposed to masterful “spin” by politicians and developers regarding the significance and impact of offshore investment in real estate development. See through the spin to reality. Investment carries an expectation of profit; otherwise why invest? How does one profit from huge investment in real estate? Everyone knows that means selling to recover costs with a profit margin built in. So – how exactly does that business model build the local/regional economy in the longer term for local residents? Doesn’t that merely benefit the “developer”? If there is a “profit” what is the potential “loss”?
The people of Niagara Region must demand full transparency and specifics in all proposals included in the current “spin” campaigns. It’s not enough for local politicians to say “It’s going to create thousand of good-paying jobs, including construction and trades jobs. It’s going to service the growth in Niagara” without specifying the “How”. What are the details of projects, jobs, long-term growth, how will people benefit directly? Full transparency is needed, not vague possibilities prefaced by “Trust me”. The “people” do not buy a “bill of goods” any more.
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NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and are intended for discussion purposes only. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of LowCal Media Inc and niagarabuzz.ca.