The public relations war over freshwater has re-started

Posted 29/01/2019

Stuff NZ website

Opinion -

OPINION: Around this time last year, I wrote about a seemingly innocuous PR campaign called Swim Fresh, which encouraged New Zealanders to appreciate their rivers and lakes.

It had the trappings of a grassroots campaign, albeit one with a vague purpose. After some digging, it turned out to be murky.

The campaign was run by Blackland PR - a communications agency that specialises in rural issues - ostensibly with the cooperation of students from Massey University (the university later denied it had sanctioned any student involvement in the campaign, contrary to what Blackland PR had said).

Several press releases from the campaign were repeated almost verbatim on mainstream news websites: One in particular noted that people didn't swim in rivers because they were too cold.

Swim Fresh fleetingly acknowledged concerns about water quality, but never in a way that lingered on them, in contrast to the election campaign several months earlier which had underlined those concerns among the public.

Read the full article here.