Sunday, 22 July 2012

Barnet Council Special - A free lesson in public relations

A very successful PR exercise, as demonstrated by the Barnet Alliance of Public Services yesterday
One of the things I do as part of my business is to give musicians advice on public relations. There is an old adage that all publicity is good publicity. Whilst to a certain extent this is true for musicians (unless you are Gary Glitter and you are exposed as a paedophile), it is most certainly not true for large organisations such as Barnet Council.

What amazes me is that Barnet Council never seem to learn the most basic lessons of PR. Let me give you a simple example. Yesterday various groups opposed to the policies of Barnet Council held a march through the Borough, culminating in a rally in Victoria Park, North Finchley. Some bright spark at the Council decided that banning childrens face painting, music and cup cakes from the finale would be a clever trick. They doubtless hoped that it would so demoralise the people marching that they would give up and have a lie in.

Lets think this through logically. A bunch of people are really annoyed at the policies of the council which seem to them to not take account of the views of the people of Barnet. Consultations have been ignored, people have been lied to and attempts to engage in discussion have been spurned. So how will these people feel when the council chooses to behave in a petty minded manner? Will they decide to stay in bed or will they be even more motivated to show up for the protest?

If the people protesting have their own very efficient PR machine, in the form of bloggers, with excellent press contacts, what are they likely to do at such unreasonable behaviour? Will they say "The council are being unreasonable, we'd better be very quiet" or will they ring everyone in their press contacts file and say there is yet another story?

I wonder who handles Barnet Council PR. When they have these meetings, don't they ever say "Well, if we do that, what will the other lot do and how will we look?". It seems not. The first rule of PR is that you don't do things which make you look pathetic. Sadly no one seems to have read "PR for dummies" at Barnet Council.

Given that the CEO is on £200,000 a year, maybe he could nip down to the library (not Friern Barnet because he's shut it) and read up on the principles of building a successful brand image. But then again, I don't think Nick Walkley really believes in homework, do you?


baarnett said...

Sadly, at least one Barnet PR department staff member moved there from working on the local newspaper.

That is not to criticise him, for the finances of the press nowadays often only provides low wages.

Even so, every time he issues a press release on behalf of Non-Stick, somewhere on a fluffy cloud, an innocent little angel dies.

Mrs Angry said...

ha: oh baarnett, that made me laugh. Dear me. I do sometimes wonder if the Tooting Twister is on our side.