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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

HARINGEY council spends too much on promoting itself through PR and not enough on what it supposed to be doing. The Evening Standard reports today that our council spent £19,000 on PR for Sharon Shoesmith (currently suspended by the Children's Secretary using statutory powers, on full pay). Doubtless we will hear excuses for this.

The same paper, also reports today that police are investigating claims that a five year old boy "Child C" was seriously abused while under the care of Better Haringey, our Three Star Beacon Council. The article refers to the increased costs of taking children into care.

If the council would stop spending so much money on promoting itself it would have more money available for front-line services. For example, if their propaganda department were shut down, their current budget could be transferred to Child Protection. By this single measure, hundreds of thousands of pounds currently wasted could help protect our most vulnerable fellow citizens, at no extra cost to the council or to council-taxpayers.

It might also demonstrate that the council has got its priorities right.

Tags for Forum Posts: PR, childrens, council, priorities, protection, service, spin

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Lee, the story is not bollocks at all. Do I detect a residual unwillingness to believe the story?! I'm pleased you agree that, if the story is true, then it was a waste of cash.

If the story had been "bollocks" as you put it, then the council would have disputed it, as they are ready, willing and able to: it has a web page dedicated to disputing news stories with which it disagrees.

Which is hardly likely, because, in response to a formal question on the subject, the figure of £19,000 was supplied by the council itself!

Haringey is far from being the only council that wastes large amounts of public funds on PR. Today's SUN newspaper carries a report about the UK's council's spending a total of £430m on PR. The SUN's story is based on this research.

It is not difficult to see that, given this background, the council and its supporters regard large amounts spent on PR as perfectly normal and are perplexed when others see this expenditure as wasteful. The absurd and self-congratulatory Haringey People magazine is part of this waste and the awards that councils give each other, in the council bubble, reinforces the sense of normality of the PR spend.
I have a residual unwillingness to believe all the hype and fluff in newspapers!

It's good to have a healthy skepticism about newspapers, but without a free press we would have a situation as obtained in the USSR, where one had to depend on Pravda and Isvestia. Haringey People seems to me to be closer to Pravda than to The Guardian.
What did the £19,000 wasted on PR buy?

Among the coaching and role-playing facilities offered, Santry and Shoesmith are likely to have had the following media-handling tips:

Speak slowly

Look the reporter in the eyes

Use and repeat the name of the reporter

Repeat the central message that you're trying to put over

Stay on-message

The trouble is, these techniques are likely to be spotted a mile off by an experienced journalist and probably are not endearing. Sincerity that is faked may be counter-productive. If Santry and Shoesmith had resigned promptly, the media storm might not have gathered pace and the media training would have been even less necessary.

As it happened, if Shoesmith in particular was ever 'on-message', then she seemed to have gone off message. Even the PR industry wasn't impressed with the lessons Haringey were supposed to have learnt PR Week (similar story in www.prweek.co.uk">Brand Republic).

How remote all this is from the torture and killing of a baby on the At Risk Register.

I hesitate to respond to this because it does feel that you simply have political points to score here, so I doubt you are really interested in debate.

However, have you considered why organisations pay money for PR? Might it be to do with the fact that they are trying to counteract some of the media forces that they feel are ranged against them - that they feel do serious harm? One of the many challenges that social services have faced is the difficulty in recruiting social workers since Climbie. I actually think it would have been a dereliction of duty not to have thought about trying to avert some of the further damage that was likely to occur.

I choose to live in Harringay, my kids go to Haringey schools. I am rather proud of Haringey and I am sick of the place being run down by the 'popular' press who do not in reality give a flip for us or our children. It is very, very disheartening to read the same stuff being peddled on here, a space for Harringay.
Who are the Taxpayers Alliance? I'm a tax payer and am not allied to anyone.
THE Guardian reported a week ago, that Haringey refuses to name PR adviser that gave training on Baby P case.

Revealing this information "would damage the commercial reputation" of the company involved.

Did this involve the spending of public funds?



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