Did the Federal Government Get Its Penny Worth?

By | April 14, 2012

There has been some recent controversy about whether the Canadian government got their money’s worth when they spent an estimated $56,000 to have Finance Minister Jim Flaherty stamp the final Canadian penny produced for circulation.  It was staged as a publicity stunt in May at the Royal Canadian mint in Winnipeg with accompanying press conference.

The Canadian government is ending production of the penny as of May 2012 because it costs 1.6 cents to mint one-cent coins.

From a communications goal, letting the public know that the penny was ending its service would be paramount to avoid banking questions,

currency problems, and consumer confusion.

What is the value of getting that information out to the public?  What executional and cost options are there?

To make the announcement via traditional media advertising would costs in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. To simply send out a press release would probably get some coverage, but not that much.

Without a video story, getting it on the nightly news would be a challenge and would not get the impact required.  The cost seems very reasonable when compared to the media pick up.  Complaining about whether the Minister spent too much on his flight or not is pretty penny wise and pound foolish (so to speak).

The kind of publicity that the event achieved, even the resulting whining about the cost of it, adds to the “earned media value” of the event.

Without an idea like having the Minister stop the production, the event may have been lost in the back pages, below the fold, off the lead.

When we have planned and run PR events like this, having a clear and interesting idea for the media is critical in getting any coverage at all.

So from a communications professional point of view, spending $56,000 is an efficient investment in managing the marketing of Canadian currency.  We should be happy with the job that has been done in transitioning from one-dollar and two-dollar bills to coinage.  An achievement others have failed at.  The US has tried four times to gain popularity of dollar coins, but never convinced the public of the benefit.

The management of currency needs marketing support to be successful.  When currency costs more to produce than it is worth, action is required that needs consumer support.

Makes cents!

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