The Wookey Hole Witch has got my knickers in a twist. I have spent much of my professional life trying to sell good stories in to the media. Stories which impact on the lives of real people - stories about improvements in the NHS, changing adoption laws, campaigns to get children fit or to fight for the rights of disabled people to name but a few. It is always hard to get a cynical, celebrity-obsessed media interested, particularly in stories where there is not obvious point of conflict - good news isn't news. I know and accept this. So today's Witch coverage has left me in the dither. I have to applaud the PR person who nicked the Tourism Queensland "best job in the world" wheeze and brought it to Somerset. Genius. Even if an cackler is employed at the going rate of £50k a year (which I seriously doubt - the hopefuls all had a drama school air about them if you ask me), it will be money well spent. The coverage has been phenomenal. But I have to ask how has the media been so taken in - the BBC has been broadcasting live down there all day, it is running on Sky and the story has made the print and on-line media. I know we are in the silly season but really?
Monday, 20 July 2009
I cannot be the only person confused and sightly irritated by the conflicting advice on swine flu. Andy Burnham's interview on the Today programme this morning prompted much shouting at the radio. With various sources producing conflicting, and in at least one case bonkers, advice over the weekend, what we needed this morning was a clear message on what people, including pregnant women, should do to protect themselves. Instead we got a minister telling us that it was up to us to decide what to do, how to behave. Surely this can't be right? I am not a health care professional, I have never been to medical school and come from the "unless a bit of me has actually fallen off I will come into work" school of work ethics. I need doctors, people in white coats, people who do this kind of thing for a living giving me clear and sensible advice. I know that public health messages are notoriously difficult to communicate but those in charge of managing the message have our attention, so their task is a much easier. Now we just need some simple and practical guidance. And for the media to report it calmly.
Friday, 3 July 2009
Glad tidings of great joy. The campaigning paid off and last night my boss, Vivien Hepworth, was recognised by the public affairs world for her outstanding contribution to the industry. It was wonderful. Was there really any doubt? There always is (except if you stand in Iran perhaps). Even in these circumstances where we had a great candidate, a reasonable and non-taxing ask and lots of potential voters we could not be certain of victory. Getting people to vote is not easy even when they agree with you. They have be persuaded that it is worth making the effort. That is why among all the policy talk, political parties try to play on people's emotions. Mainly they try to scare us (24 hours to save the NHS, tax whammies). Occasionally they manage to inspire us (Yes, we can). Last night I relied on the old "create an enemy" ploy. So I positioned the campaign for Vivien in Star Wars terms - good against evil, Obi-Wan against Darth Vader. And last night was without doubt the Return of the Jedi.