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by Julian Westaby. 0 Comments

Spare some change fur the Scottish delegates, big man?

Here at Dunning Towers, we’re great believers in pricking pomposity, highlighting outrageous abuses of position and making sure, as Scottish taxpayers, we get bloody good value for money. Of course, in the ‘social media’ world we live in, we believe, you’ve got to be honest and transparent, because if you’re not, it’s going to bite you on the bum. You’ll get found-out and exposed. Yup, we’re 100% in agreement with this. It’s our job to do this, we’re communicators.

However, we feel that certain journalists are digging not-all-that-deep, having a quick ferret-about and are pulling-out sensationalist, cheap stories, plucked out of what seem to be a fairly incongruous situations, experienced by every large and successful firm or ‘quango’. We think this could be very stifling, both for creativity and for communications.

You know the sort of things. “Outrageous! Look at this bloke’s hotel bill”, “Incredible! Check-out how much this organisation spends on coffee every year”…”Amazing! We can’t believe some of our top Executives met some other top Executives in another country, bet they had a big lunch and a fun day out”.

We’re getting a bit tired of these lame ‘exposes’ which smack of tokenism, getting a cheap jibe in, with minimum research. After all, it’s because of the spotlight most organisations work under that journalists can get easy access to these spurious and easy-to-sensationalise figures and items of financial housekeeping. Easy-peasy and a bit of a cheap shot,  if you’re an over-worked journo, working as part of a skeleton staff, who’s looking for a story to fill a few hundred words. This situation probably describes the majority of our news-vendors, these days, so it’s maybe not surprising that these non-stories are creeping into the papers with regular monotony.

We think it’s time for a bit of perspective. It’s time to look at whether these people really are ‘fat cats’. In our eyes, we definitely WANT our top executives to visit people in Barcelona to find out about their excellent transport system but we DON’T want them to stay in a Travelodge. We’d hate people in a top level, Ambassadorial role, to visit the Scandinavian Ferry Network people and eat out of paper bags at lunch and drink rotten wine. We like networking and we like research and fact finding and if we’re developing a culture where Quangos, PLC’s, Government and wee guys just starting out are frightened to do this or put it forward as a powerful business-building idea, we are sailing into very dangerous waters.

We’d suggest that most if not all of Scotland’s best firms and organisations based their original idea on an idea they’d seen ‘on their travels’ and if this works for the private sector, it sure as heck will work for the public sector too. Also, Scotland’s got a fabulous track record as Internationalists and if this willingness to learn from others starts to dry up because people are shit-scared of any adverse publicity, we’re Doooooomed as Private Fraser in Dad’s Army might have said.

Also, we’re not speaking about REAL fat cats. There are loads of examples of executives ‘leading by example’ and taking pay cuts or offering to fly ‘cattle class’. Sadly, this is usually an incredibly patronising and idealistic approach from ‘on high’ by someone who doesnae need to bother about the odd £million here or there. They can fly 2nd class to make a point, because they probably get 16 weeks holiday a year. It’s easy to take a pay cut when you’ve got £50 million. No, we’re right behind giving these guys a hard time (even bullying them if that was still allowed) to get to the bottom of the REAL story about them, not the ‘man of the people’ spin.

No, it’s the mid-level punters who quite often are only doing a job that we would like to offer a bit of support to. We reckon, if you’re going to go on any ‘fact-finding’ mission, of course there has to be a bloody good reason for doing it but once you’ve agreed on this, to do it on ‘a shoestring’ budget, is madness.

For instance, there’s a story about the Scottish Football Team, attending one of their first ever World Cups. It was a tale of embarrassment and humiliation as these under-funded, Scottish ragamuffins crossed-swords with the leading exponents of The Beautiful Game. Our team were humiliated. Everyone else had better digs, better strips, better suntans, and better haircuts and were therefore perceived as being ‘better’. We’re not advocating out-of-control budgets but we are advocating that if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly.

As an ‘Island’ race, it’s pretty clear that if we DON’T go and visit anywhere, find out how it’s done really well and meet the clever people responsible for ‘best of breed’ in anything, we’re going to turn into a very insular bunch. The chav of Europe, who thinks they don’t need to learn from anyone else.

Sure, a video conferencing call or a stream of e-mails could avoid the need for a massive posse to head-off to foreign fields but we don’t reckon it’s EVER going to take the place of a great, face-to face meeting. Networking isn’t a bad word; it’s a fundamental for any forward-thinking, modern, go-getting Country. We’d like to think Scotland is one such Country?

We end on what could be seen to be a bit of a shocker. We’ve got a certain amount of sympathy with the recent ramblings of a Tory Knight, (can’t remember his name) who complained he didn’t travel well in 2nd class trains. The times they are a changing but to a certain extent, you’ve got to admire someone who, in these politically neutered times, said something that he actually believed in. A little bit of truth, floating above a sea of ‘PC’ platitudes, which tell you nothing about individuals or organisations.

If you seek the truth and want to be perceived as truthful, forward-thinking and ambitious with transparent communications, call us, we can help. We’ll get julian@creatingsparks.com to come and see you.

He’ll bring his own flask.

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