Thursday, November 13, 2008

City West’s Full court press

Monday night’s final (well almost final except for the super secret session atop the Rupert Hotel on Wednesday night) featured a visit from the folks at CityWest, who took advantage of the public forum to once again outline the importance of the local communications company to the fabric of the community.

During the course of their presentation, CityWest Governor Jack Payne and CEO Rob Brown outlined the state of CityWest’s growth on the local scene and their hopeful plans for the future. Plans which include expansion of digital cable services to Kitimat and an expansion of phone services in Kitimat and Terrace in the next year. They stressed how the growth has been good for the community, creating jobs and providing for an economic engine for the local business community.

It marked the culmination of a fascinating bit of public relations which as we have tracked over the last few weeks, began with small little advertorials in the local print media over the last few weeks. The ads extol the virtues of a locally owned telephone and cable operation, while updates of generous CityWest donations to local groups also filled out the ad space in other sections of our local papers.

Those quaint little ads however gave way to a half page blitz presentation of the merits of CityWest published in Monday’s Daily News, appearing just as CityWest prepared to deliver their presentation to council on Monday night.

In what we suspect will be the final installment of the CityWest story for now, the talking points highlighted the original vision of the company and it’s exciting plans for the future, and not to be forgotten those 50 some donations to local charity.

From Page 12 of Monday’s Daily News, bottom half of the page

CityWest has been serving Prince Rupert for almost 100 years. The original vision to build a locally-owned telephone system has now evolved into a fully-integrated multimedia provider. The legacy of CityWest continues to benefit the community today.

Building Prince Rupert: CityWest continues to support local economic development through building new infrastructure and offering new state-of-the-art products. As a customer, when you support CityWest you should know that you are also supporting plans to launch exciting new services that enhance the quality of life for residents, and empower local business.

Supporting the Community: CityWest is proud to support the efforts of local non-profits, community organizations and service groups in Prince Rupert and the area. This year we’ve made over 50 separate donations to some very worthy causes. As a customer, when you support CityWest you should know that you are also supporting positive activities in your community.

We would like to thank all of our customers for supporting CityWest through the years and we look forward to serving you in the future.

There’s nothing wrong with trumpeting your success and looking to the future and certainly credit is due for such long running community involvement, but it seemed rather interesting all of this sudden public presentation from a company that not too long ago was being accused of being rather quiet about all of their plans.

Though one would note that the ads and presentations don’t particularly delve into the controversial nature of the past purchases, nor do they expand on the cost of expansion to the other communities in the CityWest operating area.

The CityWest public relations campaign has not gone un-noticed on the local information portal hackingthemainframe, where Wilf Rimmer a former founding director of CityTel, outlined his concerns over the timing of such a campaign in the run up to a municipal election and provided some background on the CityWest scene from his past experiences with the operations of the company. He also poses a number of questions for our consideration.

It all makes for some fascinating reading, from the advertisements spinning the positives, to the details of the presentation to council as outlined in the Wednesday Daily News and now with Mr. Rimmer’s observations on hackingthemainframe.

Dedicated information seekers and those that are computer savvy can even listen in to the presentation from the city’s website in an mp3 file, though we have yet to successfully navigate this process at Podunk (can't we all just start streaming audio).

It all provides lots of information to digest and interpret, you can join in on the debate through the topic board of hackingthemain frame, it will be interesting to track the opinions of the community in the aftermath of the full court press from CityWest…

CityWest bringing business on-line
Company anticipating new revenue streams in the coming months
By George T. Baker
The Daily News
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Pages one and three

According to Prince Rupert's cable provider CityWest, business has grown in 2008 and the company plans to increase business in 2009.

Governor Jack Payne, along with CEO Rob Brown, presented their report to city council on Monday, painting a hopeful picture of growth even with an expected global economic recession coming.

"I think it is pretty evident there is an economic slowdown and we are trying to make sure our company meets that challenge," said Payne. "On the other hand, if we can get in to new markets, and promote our product, we can do well going forward."

Payne and Brown claimed CityWest had attracted 500 new cable Internet customers in Prince Rupert during the last year, and now has 1,600 digital TV customers in Prince Rupert and Terrace combined.

And when looking forward to 2009, the company is hoping to increase its phone customer base during the next year in both Terrace and Kitimat, and its digital TV market in Kitimat.

Growth has been good for Ruperites since the company grew from a phone service provider to a multi-media provider. The company currently employs 66 people across the Northwest, 51 of them who reside in Prince Rupert. That is an increase of 15 workers since CityTel turned into CityWest in 2005.

Brown was asked by Councillor Ken Cote whether or not service time had improved since the company had taken on cable operations.

"It has improved. We are now down to two weeks, where once it would take over one month to receive service," said Brown.

He added that service in Kitimat was to be ramped up before the winter season hit, because Brown feared that it would be hard to connect customers to cable service with the cable boxes buried under deep snow.

CityWest also reported that the competition from Rogers as a cell phone service provider was not a bad thing for the company.

It was going to be Herb Pond and Ken Cote's last council meeting. However, due to outstanding issues yet to be resolved by council, the city voted to hold a special council meeting that will take place Nov. 24.

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