Author: Julien Morel

Post Date: 2017-05-17

Money well spent – if we can measure the impact

PR is undeniably good for business, but I would say that, wouldn’t I? Yet it’s worth reflecting on the value of good public relations in light of the news that the States is spending money improving the way it communicates.

It’s been recently reported that our government has spent about £50,000 on public relations advice before the publication of the imminent Independent Jersey Care Inquiry report, which might shed some light on the Island’s murky treatment of vulnerable young Islanders.

With an assembly of 49 individuals led by a minority executive and scrutinised by resource-poor backbenchers, it’s no surprise that the States have been pretty awful in getting their message across. States Members typically fall into the trap of trying to be all things to all people, finding comfort in the status quo and - when they do listen to their public – turning their ears towards a vociferous few angry sociopaths who hide behind social media monikers.

In short, the States need help to communicate effectively. They need to identify the right audiences and then tailor their messages to engage with the people who matter. They need to affirm and reaffirm what they want to say and explain clearly why that approach is the right one – whether that be defending the Island’s children’s services or convincing Islanders why building an expensive new hospital is the right one.

£50,000 will be money well spent if Jersey responds to the inquiry report with openness, humility, contrition, confidence and assertiveness. It will be a sound investment if Jersey comes out of the other side with a reputation for turning bad into good. 

Of course, the secret of good PR is measureable results and this is how the Chief Minister should silence his critics. If his London advisers are worth their gold, they would have set clear objectives – possibly based on a benchmark survey of ‘the public’ conducted before the release of the report. They will then return to those respondents if and when there is a public reaction to find out what messages about Jersey they have been received and stuck.

If the results meet pre-agreed targets, then the PR exercise can be deemed a success. It’s what the PR textbooks say and it isn’t too difficult to put that theory into practice. Let’s hope the States and their advisers have got it right.

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