[By Alyson Linke]

When you think of a great PR campaign, what usually comes to mind? It has to be timely, have a wide reach, should probably benefit a worthy cause and of course, shed positive light on the individuals or organization in question. At the outset, Bell’s annual #BellLetsTalk campaign has all of these covered, and more. As a telecommunications company, the purpose of facilitating communication and the ethos of encouraging dialogue of mental health appears to be a match made in heaven. So, what would it take for a campaign that seemingly has its act together to miscarry so spectacularly?

If you’re thinking misappropriation of funds, it’s a good guess – but strangely enough it’s not the clincher in this case, as Bell is quite transparent with regards to the allocation of funds raised.

As it happens, the problem appears to be a conflict of interest between the campaign message and Bell’s own corporate values.  According to reports, former Bell Media employee Maria McLean was fired from her job as a host at Bell-owned radio station K93 FM on Jan. 12 immediately after sharing her mental health struggles and requesting time off, as a note from her doctor had suggested.

McLean, who by her account had had no prior reason for dismissal, felt blindsided and betrayed given Bell’s strong commitment towards destigmatizing mental health issues. McLean’s supervisor, Kirk Davidson, has not commented, but a Bell spokesperson released a statement which follows:

“Bell’s a clear leader in workplace mental health, and it is of course a fundamental part of our human resources approach. And while we would not normally comment on specific employee issues, I can confirm Bell does not dismiss employees because of mental health issues, in this case or any other. When people make such claims after the fact, we always reach out and offer counselling and other support, and have done so here.”

Is this statement enough to cover Bell’s bases? At the time of this writing, McLean has yet to receive any response as to the reason for her dismissal. While the controversy barely grazed the #BellLetsTalk campaign this year, it will be interesting to see how Bell will choose to address the issue in the future. The conversation is nowhere near over-and-out.

(Photo by markito via Pixabay)

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