MONTREAL—Public relations experts are questioning SNC-Lavalin Group Inc.’s handling of its corporate image over the past two months, faulting a tight-lipped approach and inconsistent messaging for a tarnished brand.
The company has found itself in the hot seat since former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould accused top officials in the Trudeau government of pressuring her to steer prosecutors toward negotiations with the engineering and construction giant.
The Montreal-based firm faces ongoing fraud and corruption charges linked to alleged dealings with the Moammar Gadhafi regime in Libya between 2001 and 2011.
Chris Atchison, founder of Toronto-based Shockwave Strategic Communications, says “muddled messaging” has left a sour taste on the public palate, with potential implications for business at home and abroad. Despite overhauling its board and ethical protocol, SNC-Lavalin has struggled to stay ahead of a story that continues to unfold in Ottawa, he says.
Ed Roach, an Ontario-based brand consultant, says a more forthcoming attitude could yield a more sympathetic view of a company that has only posted two official statements on the affair since it broke in early February.
Last week, SNC-Lavalin walked back recent comments from CEO Neil Bruce, who said he never cited the protection of 9,000 Canadian jobs as a reason the company should be granted a remediation agreement. Internal documents presented to federal prosecutors and obtained by The Canadian Press show otherwise.
© 2019 The Canadian Press