Public relations and pumpkin pie

Great reminder of why in public relations, there are never really any days off on Seth Godin’s blog – it shouldn’t have been difficult to predict that airports in the US would be busy for Thanksgiving.  JetBlue (an airline with a positive reputation) coped with confidence, empathy, competence and kindness – having talented staff on hand who had anticipated what is needed to make things go smoothly, despite increased security checks.  Godin reports the end result was: fast lines, happy employees, loyal customers.

The government security bureaucrats obviously have a different culture – and reputation.  What’s their problem – cake and pie apparently.  America no longer cares about Mom and her pumpkin pie.  More than symbolically, home-baked cake was confiscated and thrown out.   Similarly, common sense was lacking as Godin himself was forced to throw out a bottle of gel – which the label said contained 5 ounces (more than allowed) although the bottle was nearly empty.  The message conveyed is one of lack of care and no flexibility. 

I had a similar experience flying the other week from Bournemouth to Girona with Ryanair – there was a real sense of “jobsworth” among those scanning bags.  Everyone had to take their shoes off – even babies.  This is not a high risk flight – most of us had paid under £1 for our ticket (exc taxes) and Bournemouth is wrinkly town rather than a hotbed of activism.  There were no smiles and the atmosphere was like I imagine flying in communist Russia used to be.

Clearly the authorities in the UK and US want you to feel afraid and unable to say anything.  Everyone is treated as a potential terrorist rather than using the goodwill of the public to help in this global fight against a minority who wish to harm us – yes, we are the ones most at threat here.   

As Seth stated: “No Cake! Is this the sort of government we want? We deserve? We should pay for?”  He claims the government needs a new story – and claims this is a marketing failure.  It is really a leadership failure as most crisis originate with senior management – but marketing and public relations need to get them to understand the impact of their policies. 

Those who lack the inspiration and vision to tackle terrorism beyond attempting to prevent the very freedoms we are supposed to be protecting are deadbananas.  The millions of us who form the sensible society need to join Godin and get our voices heard – be greenbananas who can see a way for society to adapt to the new threats without losing the ability to fly with cake. 

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

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