PR problems for Santa at Lapland New Forest

image Despite the headlines slating its Christmas “wonderland” as Slapland, the website for  Lapland New Forest, continues to promote the venture.

Indeed, photographs on the site claim to show “our Christmas theme park at 17.30 and 18.45 on Monday 1st December … a quiet evening … just before and after the Meridian news report that was created both outside the park perimeter and in the studio.”

There is no mention of the fact that the news reports branded the venture a complete “rip off”.   Indeed, there is further promotion of a VIP and Press Day apparently held on 27 November, which it is claimed would have seen a Meridian television “totally positive feature documentary”, had other news not taken “precedence that evening”.

Apparently, “Meridian TV so enjoyed their visit that they requested to schedule a LIVE weather broadcast from Lapland New Forest – as was already planned with the BBC for the 4th December – and also asked for complimentary tickets for their own families … which were granted with pleasure.”

It also notes the website has “been having severe technical problems with our server computer since Monday 1st December … not the website itself, but the machine we lease to host the website. All effort is being made to identify and correct this issue, including the temporary possibility to redirect this page to another domain so that you can continue to view our event photographs. This machine fault has suspended all online ticket booking and we thank you for your understanding.”

Santa may as well be seated in a deckchair on the Titanic – for despite this bold attempt to pretend nothing negative has happened, media articles aren’t the only critics with a Facebook group and complaints to Trading Standards, Consumer Direct, the RSPCA and BBC Watchdog, which reports:

The park’s organiser of marketing and advertising, Henry Mears, told BBC News: “We don’t believe we ripped anyone off,” instead blaming a “few groups of professional troublemakers” for the trouble. “Like all people, they like to get into queues and generate a bit of aggravation.”

Today’s Bournemouth Echo states the organisers believe they can get over the problems – mind you according to The News in Portsmouth, the owner of the firm is ill.  I think that’s called a crisis avoidance strategy.

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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.

3 thoughts on “PR problems for Santa at Lapland New Forest”

  1. Good post, this story has made me feel sick from the start. This company was a start up and expect it to fold. The product is terrible and the response to its product has been terrible. This is capitalism gone wrong. I hope trading standards do the right thing and close it down and compensate people.

  2. This whole Lapland Experience has been wonderful red top and talk radio fodder at a time when the news is mostly dominated by recession and the economy. All the ingredients exist:

    – Ripped off customers who parted with their hard earned cash
    – Drunk Santa getting punched
    – Angry smoking Elves
    – Greedy promoters

    It’s Christmas come early for the tabloids!!

  3. Stephen,

    I agree and I hope that many PR practitioners realise that there is a finite interest in the doom and gloom in the media. It is very easy to add a “credit crunch” angle when drafting press releases, but the media will be looking out for stories that can interest in other ways.

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