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Bob LeDrew: Memo to Rogers re iPhone launch - don't tease

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

The last mysterious technology gadget that caught people's imaginations the way the iPhone has was likely what turned out to be the Segway. But the iPhone has become as lustworthy an object of desire as the iPod. Full marks to Apple.

However, we Canadians have had to wait almost an entire year to get the good news about a legal iPhone for us - although the early adopters got a phone from the States and "unlocked" it.

Last Monday, Steve Jobs of Apple announced the second generation iPhone, with 3G technology. On that day, a mysterious banner popped up on the Rogers site, saying "something big is coming July 11", with a silhouette with a familiar shape.

And then last Thursday, Rogers, and its subsidiary Fido, announced that they would bring the iPhone to Canada on July 11.

So hurray for Rogers, right? Umm, not so fast.

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Bob LeDrew: When a policy change affects your business

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

This week, the federal government released a report suggesting that the pesticide 2-4-D is not a health hazard when used as directed.

This might turn out to be a bit inconvenient for the Ontario government, which has just introduced a law that would ban what it calls "cosmetic" pesticides.

But apparently, the federal government's report is not going to affect the provincial government's bill.

There's no surprise to anyone that bad news and worry are the daily bread of the news business. There's a cliché that a thousand planes landing safely is NOT news, and that's true.

But let's say you're a lawn-care business in Ontario. What do you do in the middle of all this?

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Bob LeDrew: Using social networks to measure PR

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

You may not be aware of the friendly – at least friendly most of the time – rivalry between the advertising mavens and the public relations folks.

I used to tell a colleague that the division was a simple one – “you ad guys spend all the money and we PR people get all the results.”

And while that’s a GROSS oversimplification, it reflects a certain feeling in the industry.

But one thing that we PR types have always envied advertising was the clarity of advertising numbers.

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Bob LeDrew: Beware the risks of corporate sponsorships

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

I'm pretty certain that Baron de Coubertin is doing triple somersaults in the pike position in his grave.

The leadup to the 2008 Olympics has been like no other. When Canada hosted the Calgary Olympics in 1988, thousands of Canadians carried the torch and it was a big unity-booster.

This time, the torch run has been dominated by controversy as pro-Tibet protesters have done everything in their power to disrupt the procession. From fire extinguishers to giant signs on the Golden Gate Bridge, what was supposed to be a triumph has turned into a branding catastrophe for the Chinese government.

My interest, however, is more in the potential effects of this on Olympic sponsors.

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Bob LeDrew: A PR guy's take on Air Canada's 'On My Way' service

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

The last time I talked about Air Canada was 2004, when they hired Céline Dion to sing their song, "You and I were meant to fly." Just so you know, I wasn't complimentary.

But Air Canada's latest move is so silly, I can't say no to looking at it.

The airline has introduced it's "On My Way" program, which offers travellers services in the event that their flight is cancelled or delayed. You can buy the service when you book online, and it costs either $25 or $35, based on the length of flight - and that's each way.

So let's take a look at this. If you're stuck in Halifax because of a snowstorm and can't get to Vancouver, what does 70 bucks get you? Flight information updates by e-mail or SMS message. And "Exclusive around the clock toll free access to dedicated specially trained agents".

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Bob LeDrew: Anatomy of a great public relations move

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

When I'm not being an amoral public relations flack, I am a pretty serious music lover. So when I heard the sad news last week that Jeff Healey had died, I was more than a little sad.

Healey was a supremely talented guitarist and a true devotee of old style jazz, and his death from cancer at age 41 was a loss not only for his loved ones, but for thousands of people like me who loved his music.

His March 2nd death was a particular loss for fans who were supposed to have seen him at Ottawa' s Centrepointe Theatre on March 1st.

But why am I talking about this? Because a couple of days after Healey's death, I got an e-mail from Centrepointe Theatre. The e-mail encouraged those who got a refund from the concert to donate an equivalent amount to an eye cancer research fund.

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Bob LeDrew: Pre-budget advice for business

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

So tomorrow's the big day. The federal government delivers the 2008 federal budget. And while once upon a time, the speculation was about what goodies might be unveiled, the tone in the lead up this time 'round has been more like a dysfunctional family fight.

Last week, the fighting was between current federal Finance minister - and former Ontario finance minister - Jim Flaherty, and current Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty.

During a speech last Tuesday, Flaherty said that under McGuinty, the province lacked innovation, foresight and leadership. McGuinty's minister Sandra Pupatello was in the audience, and called Flaherty's remarks "bald-faced lies." McGuinty himself took it a little more diplomatically.

Meanwhile, associations like the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters were being much more conciliatory and positive. So it's obvious that even my best advice won't help you influence the budget at this point.

But I can give you some advice for when you're a little fish and the sharks and the dolphins are taking bites out of each other.

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Bob LeDrew: Getting the tone right in a company apology

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

Every business makes mistakes. The key to success is how you react to them.

Case in point: Web hosting company Dreamhost. The facts are these: the company had a small billing problem in December 2007 which meant some customers didn't get billed. To fix the problem, one of the company's founders re-ran the billing. But instead of entering December 2007, he entered December 2008, meaning tens of thousands of Dreamhost customers got charged for services they hadn't yet used. The company took in millions in credit card charges it wasn't entitled to.

Now, Dreamhost obviously needed to apologize. And being a fun and funky internet company that has a reputation for transparency and informality, company co-founder Josh Jones wrote a blog post explaining just what went wrong.

The problem with the apology blog post? It was written in Jones's characteristic jokey, breezy style, with jokes about his fat fingers being responsible and pictures of Homer Simpson and the movie Office Space.

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Bob LeDrew: Tips to ensure good community relations

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

'Why, Santa, why?' might have been the question asked by Cindy-Lou Whos in households across Canada this holiday season. Last month, Canada Post discovered that about 10 families received replies from its "letter to Santa" program that were, shall we say, less than polite. Then, they ended up in the media in January because two kids in Montreal received late replies from Santa.

I'm sure that this is a January where Canada Post executives are trying to figure out what went wrong with what is surely one of their biggest community relations programs and how to fix it in time for Christmas 2008.

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Bob LeDrew: Spinning the wireless spectrum auction

Money Talks is a collection of daily columns from The Business Network, which airs weekday mornings on CBC Radio One at 5:45 a.m. ET (6:15 a.m. ET in N.L.).

In May 2008, the Canadian federal government is going to hold an auction. But you and I won't be bidding on the goods. The auction is for what they call "wireless spectrum". That means the frequencies that can be used for things like mobile phones and devices like Blackberries and Treos.

The interesting wrinkle in this auction is that Industry Canada, the department in charge, has set aside almost half of the spectrum available for new entrants.

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