Couriers launch their own PR blitz over handling of cyclist’s traffic death

September 25, 2009

Globe and Mail, September 25, 2009

By Anthony Reinhart

In a bid to counter “damning” media portrayals of the cyclist killed in a collision with ex-politician Michael Bryant’s car last month, a bicycle couriers’ group is launching its own public relations effort today.

The Toronto Bike Messenger Association, officially silent since Darcy Allan Sheppard’s death on Aug. 31, is to break that silence at a 2 p.m. news conference organized by a small communications company working pro bono on its behalf.

The couriers’ use of a public relations adviser, albeit one from a modest outfit, is a response to Mr. Bryant’s having turned to Navigator Ltd., a high-end crisis management firm, in the hours after he was charged in Mr. Sheppard’s death.

The former Ontario attorney-general, accused of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death, is to make his first court appearance Oct. 19.

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Bike couriers association calls press conference to counter negative media portrayal of “special friend” Darcy Allan Sheppard

September 23, 2009

From Wiedman Communications

Toronto – 230909 // The Toronto Bike Messenger Association (TOBMA) has called a press conference for this Friday at 2:00 pm. They want to speak ahead of their Saturday, September 26 evening memorial celebration to raise money for the children of Darcy Allan Sheppard, and help his family pay for his burial.

Since the cyclist lost his life in a high-profile accident with Michael Bryant on August 31, TOBMA has chosen to remain silent, making no “official statements” until emotions had calmed. In that time, major media including Maclean’s, Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star have featured articles damning the life, personality and background of their co-worker Al Sheppard.

Mark Hayward, Marli Epp and Brian Harris, Toronto Bike Messenger Association

1 – Official statement from TOBMA
2 – Remembering Darcy Allen Sheppard
3 – “Victim Impact Statements” from friends / co-workers, on the negative media spin on Al in the days following the accident.

Friday, September 25 – 2:00 pm to 2:30

Sneaky Dee’s, 431 College Street @ Bathurst

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The Evidentiary Narrative

September 20, 2009

By Mess Media, September 20, 2009

In our previous post we looked at the Navigator Narrative of the events that led to the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard by Michael Bryant. In this post we look at the original narrative – the Evidentiary Narrative.

The Evidentiary Narrative emerged immediately after Sheppard’s death as it was witnessed by many people and filmed by security cameras.

The Globe and Mail reported that Toronto Police Traffic Services Sgt. Tim Burrows said

many witnesses had come forward and video from personal handheld devices and security footage had assisted in the investigation.

Security Camera footage showed Michael Bryant’s black Saab convertible stopped at a light. Sheppard entered the view passing Bryant’s car and pulling to a stop in front of him at the light. When the light turned green Sheppard didn’t immediately move. Bryant moved his car forward, first a little bit and then with greater force he rammed in to the back of Sheppard’s bike pushing him forward and knocking Sheppard to the ground.

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The Navigator Narrative from Michael Bryant

September 19, 2009

Mess Media, September 19, 2009

Michael Bryant in custody

Michael Bryant in custody

In the aftermath of the killing of Darcy Allan Sheppard the media has referred to two conflicting narratives in describing the events that led to Mr Sheppard’s death. One narrative, the “Evidentiary Narrative” took shape based on security camera footage and eyewitness testimony. The other, the “Navigator Narrative” took shape shortly after accused killer, Michael Bryant hired Brian Mulroney’s public relations firm Navigator Ltd.

A week later we now have the second wave of Navigator’s plan – attack the revelations that the Navigator Narrative has no credence. The Globe and Mail’s Joe Friesen in an article entitled “Michael Bryant’s Spin Class” leads the way by claiming the Navigator Narrative MAY have came from old fashioned reporting but did it?

Friesen reveals that even PR experts admit that Navigator is the source for the Navigator Narrative.

Several leading PR experts said they assumed that the story’s changing tone was due at least in part to tips and sources provided to reporters by Navigator. They thought Navigator had encouraged reporters to ask about the movements of victim Darcy Allan Sheppard on the night he died, or pointed them in the direction of his 61 criminal charges, or raised doubts about who was the aggressor in reporters’ minds.

Friesen also admits Navigator was

handing out press releases and generally letting it be known that they were now in charge of Mr. Bryant’s communications.

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When Worlds collide

September 17, 2009

Bicycling, September 16, 2009

by Bob Mionske

Bob Mionske is a nationally known cycling lawyer with a practice exclusively focused on representing cyclists. An advocate for the rights of cyclists, Bob is the author of Bicycling & the Law , the first book written for cyclists on their legal rights and responsibilities since 1895. Bob is also a former U.S. Olympic and pro cyclist; Bob represented the United States in the 1988 and 1992 Olympic games, and was the National Road Race Champion in 1990, amassing a record of over 100 wins during his racing career.

So to set the record straight, here’s what really happened.

The night of August 31, Darcy Allan Sheppard was on his bike on Bloor Street, riding home from his fiancee’s apartment. It was 9:45 p.m. As he approached a traffic light, he passed to the left of a Saab convertible that we now know was Michael Bryant’s. After passing Bryant, who was stopped at the light, Sheppard cut in front of his car and also came to a stop. Shortly thereafter, as the light turned green, Bryant drove forward, perhaps bumping Sheppard’s wheel. Sheppard turned his head back, in Bryant’s direction. Witnesses reported that when the light turned green, there was a toot of the horn from Bryant, and a shout to “get moving,” followed—perhaps—by a return shout from Sheppard. Then, incredibly, Bryant hit the gas, pushing Sheppard forward into the intersection, knocking him off his bike. As Sheppard struggled to get to his feet, Bryant backed up, stopped, turned his wheel and began to drive past Sheppard as he sped away. Read the rest of this entry »

What if Navigator was working for Darcy Allan Sheppard instead of Michael Bryant?

September 16, 2009

Although Darcy Allan Sheppard had no violent record and has only been accused and not convicted of cheque fraud, many in the media have portrayed him as someone who may be violent. He had no history of violence and no record of violence –none.

Much of Sheppard’s portrayal is driven by Bryant’s PR efforts with Brian Mulroney’s favourite spinners – Navigator Ltd.

Before Navigator started spinning the facts, the Globe and Mail described Sheppard as “admired by his co-workers for his charisma and adored by his friends and family for his comedy.”

Other media outlets spoke with people who knew him.

“You have to print the truth about him,” said courier Barry Ridley, who has worked as a courier for 39 years.

“Allan would go out of his way to help people. He was one of the nicest guys,” said Mr. Ridley.

“He was more of a fun loving guy,” echoed courier John Baker, adding it would be out of character for Mr. Sheppard to be the aggressor in a dispute with the driver of a vehicle.

What kind of articles would we be seeing if Navigator worked for Darcy Allan Sheppard instead of Michael Bryant?
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Michael Bryant’s PR firm – Navigator Ltd

September 11, 2009

The PR firm that attacked Darcy Allan Sheppard’s past is led by a convicted fraudster and forger

In the aftermath of Darcy Allan Sheppard’s death, Michael Bryant led an aggressive campaign to spin the story in his favour. It was suggested that after calling his lawyer, his second phone call was to hire the public relations firm, Navigator Ltd. In fact shortly after the altercation, many people have speculated that a Navigator representative attempted to prevent the media from filming Bryant in the back seat of a police cruiser.

Navigator has been successful in persuading some journalists to ignore the facts of the case and report on speculative theories that require making unsupported assumptions about Darcy Allan Sheppard.

Rick Salutin of the Globe and Mail describes part of the problem between public relations firm and the media:

You can consider this matter a subcategory of the general problem of relations between PR and journalism. A huge number of Canadian journalism grads end up in PR. Some go directly; others have distinguished careers first, then switch.

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