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Broken promises, broken public relations- Lessons from Westminster

Image (C) Akeg

What do the ongoing immigration debate, Fred.Olsen Cruises and the British economy have to do with the price of bread, each other or public relations? Well, on the face of it very little indeed, other than bringing to mind the need to value and preserve the public’s faith in a brand or organisation.
Let’s untangle the rather messy web then. Last night BBC Two aired a documentary entitled The Truth About Immigration, wherein the perpetual elephant in the corner was put on display for politicians to debate over honestly. Within that  certain members of the former Labour government were shown to have made some rather bold statements regarding predicted net migration figures into Britain from Eastern Europe. At the time politicians promised those given responsibility for estimating the numbers had done the job properly, and explained that roughly 13,000 more people would move into the UK each year.
They couldn’t have been more wrong, though. In reality this figure was some ten times higher, and whilst this is far from the first time the electorate has been let down by those in charge, nevertheless it further damaged what trust was left in the ruling classes. More so, given this situation continues to cause disputes in Westminster clearly, despite successive promises to do so, the situation still hasn’t  been adequately resolved so as to silence people on either side of the argument.
Then we have the equally depressing sentiment surrounding the UK’s limping economy. We’re out of the worst recession-wise, or so people are desperately trying to believe (although we think it probably depends on where you are in the country), however the bank balance is still very much in trouble. Hence Chancellor George Osbourne’s declaration that ‘the job isn’t even half done’ earlier this week, followed by proposals to cut yet another £25billion in public spending, largely from the benefits bill.
Of course we’ve heard time and again about how the Coalition are trying to protect the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country, and even the Liberal Democrat corner of this hung government has criticised the idea, pointing out there are alternatives that won’t target those on the lowest household incomes. A message for the Tories should surely therefore sound something like ‘don’t say one thing and do the other’, because whatever your business such moves are almost always bad for it.
By now you’re probably wondering how this connects to Fred.Olsen Cruises, or whether we’ve been at the leftover Christmas liquor. Fear not, though, there is a point, because the seafaring holiday company just launched its January sale, offering hefty discounts off several luxurious trips, and introduced Fred.’s Enjoyment Promise, wherein first time passengers can decide they don’t like the idea of being on a cruise ship within 48 hours of embarkation, and expect a full refund plus a complimentary flights back to the UK.
It sounds like a very generous offer, because it is. But, whilst the firm is currently celebrating after half its 2013 passengers were repeat customers (and the deal only applies to debutants), this is precisely the kind of concept that’s frightfully unpredictable and impossible to accurately gauge in terms of costings. We imagine (and hope) the company has taken all the potential outcomes into account, especially given thousands have already been taken off  its price tags in a bid to try and attract a wider customer base, many of whom probably won’t have sailed before. And, providing that’s the case we expect the campaign to prove successful. Nevertheless, our point is unless you are 100% sure on delivery, it’s never wise to use the ‘P’ word.

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