Public Service Announcement

This, I’m afraid, is one of those moments when I really, really wish I’d written it down. Then I’d have a source and the point would be better made than it’s going to be. Then again, in the interests of mitigating against the possibility of doing a Bercow (Sally, not John) and becoming liable for an enormous sum through having referenced something or someone wot didn’t like it up’ em, maybe it’s better that I don’t have a source.

Anyway, you be the judge on the whole sourcey debate. I’m just going to push through it. There I was, either watching TV or listening to the radio – see why I wish I’d written this down? – and up popped one of what I guess are still called ‘public service announcements’.

The sort of thing that is produced by government, funded by the taxpayer and, in a mostly well-meaning, slightly patronising and broadly ineffective way, attempts to ‘help’ the general population with some tips on how to make things better.

The sort of thing that springs to mind is – and forgive me, for, clunky black plastic device from an early episode of Star Trek(*) that I might be, I am not of this vintage – the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ campaign, later, advice on what to do in the event of a nuclear strike (hide under the table, as I recall), later than that, the Green Cross Code Man (which was quite good AND starred Darth Vader), about the same time, Charley the cat and his advice on any number of issues including strangers and, into this century, The Management (actually, these were excellent) and Gimme Five a Day (not so much).

So this was a public service announcement, probably the work of the DTI, in conjunction with the DEL, quite clearly aimed at small businesses. So far so good – the success of small businesses is central to the success of the economy, to boosting employment, to facilitating training and skills development. The UK needs entrepreneurs. The UK needs to be seen to be business-friendly and open for business. So I’ve been told by my mates Dave, Nick and Ed, anyway. (Not by Nige, mind.)

Unfortunately, this PSA (looky here, I done made a TLA(**)!) centred around – in the first instance – an hairdresser. Whose mates and clients were all on social media. All on social media, apparently, discussing their hairstyles. And therefore, through the voodoo and spooky juju of tinternet, boosting our heroine’s business to the point, we were led to believe, that Vidal Sassoon himself may have thought ‘oi, oi, competition!’

Then, a voiceover which had, quite clearly, been scripted by someone in government and recorded by someone in education and was, therefore not wholly in touch with the subject matter, the audience or the zeitgeist (which, of course, I so am), told us that there are hundreds of people looking for your (the target audience’s) business and unless you’re on the social, they won’t find you.

Where to start, gentle readers, where to start.

First, I don’t think there are hundreds of people looking for your business. Hairdressers in general, maybe, in the same way that people look for toilet roll, but you’ll not build a business on people looking for you. Second, they’re most definitely not looking for you on social. Social media strategy is – once and for all – for the larger business that has the time and resource to waste on it.

Third – if it’s a PSA about new media – why use old media to get it out there? Hmmmm? Is it that social doesn’t have the reach – or is that traditional media carry more weight and are more likely to influence?

And if so, why advocate social to business people who do not have time and whose marketing efforts would be better focused elsewhere?

Nanny state. Makes me cross.

(*) Old communicator

(**) Three Letter Acronym

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