Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One of "Jess Dube"'s First Ten Facebook Friends

Barb MacDonald, Skate Canada, Director, Corporate Communications April 2010 to present.

Barb came on board a year before BMO took its money and ran. Barb's appointment did not unseat Debbi Wilkes, but perhaps freed up Wilkes for more face time on camera.

Barb says she's based in Ontario and is "Responsible for Internal/External Communications, Media Relations and media operations for Canada's national governing body for figure skating."

Barb has been a "senior communications consultant" since 1996, with a focus on right-wingish Christian ministries and affiliated fundraising.

Her professional bio from facebook:

An Accredited Business Communicator through the International Association of Business Communications. I specialize in providing both strategic and hands-on communications advice and services for a wide range of clients in the sport, business, not-for-profit and ministry sectors. Also serving as venue media manager for major sports events, running the complete spectrum of services to allow journalists and photographers to see the event, gather information, and file stories and photographs on the event.

(I'm a bit "Eh?" about how Canadian figure skaters of different or no religious affiliation feel about a Director of Corporate Communications who leads with a fundie agenda (not politicizing - ask Barb - she's forthright about it)*. I wonder if corporations sharing Barb's affinities are the ones most inclined to sponsor figure skating. Oh well, I'm sure Skate Canada did its usual thorough research before bringing her in.)

 Late one evening, some months back, "Jessica Dube" restricted her original facebook and all of its albums, and that same evening opened a new facebook account called "Jess Dube". Barb MacDonald was immediately on the friends' short list. Very on-the-spot for such a busy woman. 

Now, people interpret Christian doctrine (alternatively - values) differently. But nowhere in the New Testament is an orchestrated, aggressive campaign of misrepresentation and outright lies condoned, not even when the intent is to guard your privacy while stimulating revenue. We know how much Jesus enthused over the virtues of raising money. Am I right? Is there an "improve thy bottom line" teaching in the New Testament? In the Old Testament are there Nostradamus-type dictates on how to act out a lie for the camera as long as the goal is not just a) redirecting the curious from your personal life, but - primarily - b) scamming the public because you aim to take their money?

I guess there's bonus value points when a strategy lets you have it both ways. How to reap the (perceived) advantage$ of accessibility while retaining the protections of privacy and secrecy?


So you create a lie and cook up a proactive marketing scheme openly  instructing people to believe it while prying open their wallets.**

Does the Bible advocate a pattern of media interaction where you raise the topic of people who resist your lies, mock these hypothetical folk, patronize them, then piously empathize with their romantic delusions?

Okay, well, testaments old and new aside, let's consider that, even today, Jesus is said to speak personally through certain right-thinking people. Perhaps He's reassured the SC crowd in person and they've kept it to themselves. I'm gonna guess Jesus is all about situational ethics these days. It’s okay for GOOD people to do wrong things. And it feels like it would be a giant mess to backtrack now so may as well keep digging and save face. 
What genius looks like.
Lastly, what about style? Does Jesus/the Bible prefer the lie that is smart, quiet, tasteful, tactful, seamless, easy-going, adroit, smooth, with softly blurred edges and a steady, consistent message? Is that better than the lie that embarrasses everybody, debases somebody's core emotional integrity in every photo, is sordid on many levels, degrading, mortifying, trashy, creepy, mutually humiliating for subject and audience, sloppy, unsettling, weird, contradictory and grotesque  - while simultaneouly achieving a tone that's self-satisfied, arrogant, obnoxious and douchey? The Bible is mum on style matters, so I guess Skate Canada has been groping in the dark.
*not mentioning the Jews or the gays (Donald Trump taught me to put the "the" in front of different cultures, ethnicities, religions and sexual orientations). Cause SC doesn't have no gays. When Alma Moir gave an interview some years back on how Kurt Browning had helped dispel the gay "myth" in figure skating, she cited Brian Boitano as her example of a figure skater who had, sadly, perpetuated skating's gay image. Now Brian Boitano a) has never come out, as far as I'm aware, and b) is American, but that was Alma's go-to example. Out the guy without a qualm, claim he hurt figure skating's image with the public, and tout Kurt Browning, who years later burned his home down with a leaf  blower.

These people.

** a/k/a  hubris (a sin).
Barb MacDonald didn't vacate One Way Ministries until some months after her appointment as Skate Canada's Director of Corporate Communications, and she began servicing Skate Canada long before her appointment to the Directorship.

It's super creepy how SC corporate directors, whose core responsibilities are corporate marketing, sponsor relationship development -  and in Barb's case, some venue/media operational oversight -  are so freaking eager to be personally hands-on with their "stars." Isn't the above a task for a p.a. or PERSONAL (not corporate) PR rep? Debbie "Mac" can't escort VM?


  1. Assuming your allegations are true, I'm very curious to know what - ideally - you think they should do now. Should they admit it and apologize? Or should they just drop the whole Jess thing and hope people can't do math in a few years?

  2. I'm simply spinning here, because I'm not a consultant, and they need one such as IMG or similar non-SC affiliated, qualified advisor that is not their parents or people invested in them personally. Genuine professionals.

    The public has a really short term memory and gossip news cycles are short. Virtue Moir’s situation is just about hiding a lovely reality with unspeakably dumb and dumber lies so take the dumb away and they’re fine. I think as stupid as all this is it is SO utterly stupid the public would probably feel bad for them and give them a break and move on. IOW, coming clean is not that big a deal, but I guarantee they don't see it like that. It's the Jessica thing now that keeps nagging at people because they can feel it's off. I think they'd have less stress and more privacy if they quit this nonsense.

    No apology. No need to address every (or any) lie, don't even deal with facebook, don't talk about anything said and done before. Not even Jessica herself. The mainstream news isn't going to mention her, or fling past bullshit in their face. And no headlines. NO CIRCUS. Short and sweet: This is our actual status. It was important to us to keep it private until now.

    End of story. People aren't morons; they'll get it.

    Since a lot of the press and sports media do know, they'd help them out in the spin. Keep it LOW KEY. Then move on with a consistent, professional marketing plan. It’s not rocket science.

    But most of all what they need is some mature advice from professionals who have no agenda but Virtue and Moir's own best interest. There is no such animal in Skate Canada.

  3. I agree that if someone were in this situation, it's important to keep things simple and low-key and not get twisted into apologetic knots.

    It would be important to get away, PR-wise, from SC as I think SC would mostly be trying to cover its ass instead of protecting and/or helping V/M extricate themselves from a lie.

  4. Anon #1 here, I appreciate your reponse. It sounds so obvious now that you explain it, I hope TS will wake up and realize this. I think everyone involved, fans included, would be less stressed.

  5. I work in PR and agree that this situation is a mess. These two beautiful, articulate and extremely likeable individuals are a PR professional's dream.

    Why they have allowed these "professionals" to direct their story is beyond bizarre. I would recommend Tessa and Scott step up, be grown ups and take control of their own careers.

    Olympic glory and the "love story question" can only take you so far before fans and non-fans alike start asking for a new duo to watch.

  6. I recently reviewed the experience of the officials at the USFSA and Skate Canada, and the difference is glaring.

    Wilkes, et all are good at the logistics of event management, but that is it. They are unqualified to think of a marketing plan and then a strategy. Even the de-gay plan - it comes across so egocentric - insulting to Federations and marketing professionals everywhere. Seriously, in the years since the 1990's when figure skating saw a popularity fall-off - only Wilkes was bright enough to think of de-gaying the sport via a simplistic re-branding achieved through talking points and photo shoots? Nobody else had this genius idea - only Wilkes? Yet she didn't hesitate - she honestly thought no one else, no matter how qualified, had thought of this elementary solution and the only reason it hadn't transformed the sport's popularity was only she was smart enough to think of it. The egotism is revolting.

    This is only speculation, but Scott Moir's entire family is Skate Canada up the whazoo (even Tessa's dad is part of SC) and they are very interested in promoting Skate Canada, and relationship considerations could make this whole mess sticky. Meaning, how can they abandon all the people who see their involvement with Tessa and Scott's post-Olympic career as the reward/pay-off of 4 years of development?

    There is definitely an unprofessional, star-fucker vibe off some of SC's officials; they're star struck, and would only reluctantly relinquish media control of the two biggest stars on their team. They get a vicarious thrill from access, from setting the agenda. Meantime, they have stuck this team into a No-Exit debacle, Scott especially.

    But Scott, while the face of the sham, is no more involved in continuing this mess than is Tessa. It's about time both of them behaved like grown-ups and put on their big-person skating tights.

    Everybody is sensitive. Everybody is private. It's not a privileged emotional status. Having it both ways is not reality. Disciplined adherance to a screwed-up game plan is not a Virtue.

  7. Barb MacDonald is now on the radar screen of LGBT a rights org in the USA. GLAAD apparently knows who she is and are looking into her background and her links to the anti-gay American leader, James Dobson (as per a phone conversation July 20th about the coming GLAAD NYC conference Aug 2nd, 2011). Which is funny because many Americans couldn't point out where Canada was on an unlabeled map, but they know who Skate Canada is.