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Doris on the Radio

I was recently contacted by BBC Radio Stoke to ask my opinion from a marketing perspective on a TV documentary that was about to be aired.

The programme "The Year the Town Hall Shrank" was aired on BBC4 and focussed on Stoke-on-Trent over a period of 12 months when they were faced with the largest funding cuts to local government ever imposed by central government.

Doris on the RadioThe question I was asked was 'is it a good idea for organisations to open their doors for such scrutiny?'.  In most cases I would say yes, it can highlight the challenges companies face on a day to day basis, it can be enlightening (and useful) for customers, suppliers and staff to have an insight into what goes on behind close doors and understand how decisions are made.  There have been many programmes made in a similar theme i.e. Back to the Floor, Trouble at the Top, Inside John Lewis, Britain's Next Big Thing and Mary Portas's programmes, to name but a few, and often the process appears to have resulted in lessons being learnt and changes been made to the benefit of customer service, staff and of course commercially.

Not all businesses have the luxury of being able to invite the cameras in, but there are ways for companies to be more transparent but before you start What's your objective?  Are you looking to increase awareness of your company generally or to focus on a particular product or service?   Having answered that question, it will help you put together a strategy and help you identify the marketing tools that can aid you in achieving your objectives.  For example websites are our 'virtual shop windows' and these should be used more to inform our stakeholders of what's happening within an organisation.  In addition social media tools can provide insights into your organisation, posts can be made by key departments or about particular brands / products.  Many organisations are using Twitter and Facebook in particular to interact with their customers and as a result can respond to queries quickly, react to negative comments and of course use the opportunity to receive positive feedback.

Back to The Year the Town Hall Shrank.  It was very different from the other TV documentaries I mentioned, more hard hitting and quite difficult to watch at times.  Unlike the other programmes, the content and the issues faced by the key decision makers featured affected lives directly.  Overall a high proportion of the three individual episodes were dark and quite negative, and I was concerned that Stoke on Trent hadn't been shown in a balanced way.  There were glimmers of positivity with support from local businesses and residents showing their community spirit and I am sure there is more of this taking place in the region than was reported.  It wasn't clear what the objectives were of Stoke-on-Trent to take part in this documentary, however the programme has sparked plenty of debate and comments online and I would urge the management to review the feedback - good, bad and ugly and use (where appropriate) in future strategies.

Feedback:

Cygnet Group
Matthew Kimpton-Smith, Group Managing Director
"By January 2013 our Sales and Marketing functions had been ‘lumped together’ without any real distinction between the two disciplines, and without any specific marketing expertise within the business."
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