DOUBLE MISS

Today’s subject is a double miss because I have no idea what the protesters around St Pauls want or what the Church’s attitude is to them.

It brings to mind the thought of two blindfolded men boxing – neither knows where their opponent is, damage to either is more or less accidental and the only real outcome is the entertainment of those watching the fight.

Over the years I’ve spent time on both sides of the fence – dealing with the PR issues of organisations protesting about issues and organisations dealing with protests, either direct or indirect.

The key to success is clarity over the narrative in the first place and then sticking to it.

For the protest organisation it means knowing not just what you are against but what you are for. If a wider public is to be won over it is not sufficient to simply say “we don’t like this”, without saying what solutions you would put forward. The solutions need not be perfect but what they must show there is a vision. Simply saying what you are against is picking the low fruit.

For an organisation dealing with protest on the other hand it means quickly identifying what you are being accused of, weighing up any real culpability and then reacting accordingly, either standing up and saying the protest is unjustified or accepting that you can make changes. In crisis comms the issue can often be used as a springboard to showcase the true values and ethos of the organisation.

The St Pauls situation, which has already lead to the departure of some senior figures at the cathedral, seems to be being made more difficult because neither party seems capable of setting out what they do want in the future.

The protesters may well have something enlightening to say about capitalist society, and the Church authorities might equally have something to say about their position – but until someone can state it clearly, all the public sees is a nihilistic protest which does little more than make empty headlines.

Is it too late to change – possibly so. Both parties are now caught up in the momentum of the moment. For the protesters the presence of the media day in day out will be taken as an indication of success (yet the opportunity to reach out through the media has clearly not been taken) whilst the Church seems ready to sit back and let the City take the initiative and do something.

Missed opportunities on both parties.

Advertisements