Canadian Tourism Department Presents Colonel Bill Smullen with the Famous Calgary White Hat
Sven Stafford, Syracuse University
April 1, 2010
What do Bill Clinton, George Bush, the Dalai Lama and Bill
Smullen have in common? If you were to
guess that they are all honorary citizens of Calgary, then you would be right
and well informed. The honor is bestowed
by the White Hatters, an organization that recognizes those who provide
visitors and Calgarians with outstanding service and Western hospitality.
The Colonel was in Calgary March 29 and 30 to present talks
at the Canadian Energy Research Institute (CERI) and the Calgary Public
Relations Society (CPRS). At CERI
Colonel Smullen addressed the “Battle for World Opinion,” which focused on an
organization’s ability to influence perceptions of their actions. The talk specifically centered on ways to
engage audiences and stakeholders to promote greater appreciation and understanding
of an organization’s motives and actions, and to have those actions accepted as
responsible. This is especially
important in the oil sands industry, which is often painted as “dirty oil” as
opposed to “innovative,” and is in danger of losing control of the message.
At CPRS Smullen spoke on America’s Promise, a non-profit set
up by Colin Powell to harness the potential of American children by preparing
them for the demands of global competition and the rewards of engaging with the
international community. Smullen was
instrumental in bringing this organization from chalkboard to reality. His talk to CPRS focused on “Building a Brand
from the Ground Up,” which drew from his experience working with General Powell
to build a culture around the initiative while raising an army of committed volunteers
dedicated to investing critical resources into the lives of at-risk youth.
The highlight of the trip, however, was the presentation to
Smullen of the famous Calgary White Hat.
First made in 1926 by a young Morris Shumiatcher, the White Hat became the
internationally recognized symbol of the Calgary Stampede and the City of
Calgary. In 1949, Mayor Don Mackay began
passing out the White Hat to dignitaries, a tradition that continues to this
day (White Hat). The Colonel was honored to receive the hat,
and has promised to wear it on his next stampede.