Somewhere in the Buckinghamshire town of Bletchley, a computer has been locked into this website for a week. Each day, according to the analytics, it’s online for 12 or more hours. This unprecedented attention is doing wonders for the site statistics, but of course it is also skewing the true picture.
So what has happened?
Has someone gone away on business or holiday, forgetting to shut down the computer? Did the user have a sudden and serious medical problem before he or she could click out of the site? Or are we being ‘stalked’ by a dodgy web-crawler?
Apart from being the ‘other half’ of Milton Keynes, Bletchley was formerly home to the World War 2 code-breakers who, in modern terms, hacked their way through the output of the German Enigma machines.
We hope this site is not being hacked. We’ve got some good stuff, but nothing to raise eyebrows at Wikileaks or GCHQ.
We know the ‘culprit’ is a Mac, running Safari, on an internet service provided by NTL Infrastructure (Birmingham). But unless our enigmatic visitor owns up, we’re unlikely to discover the full identity. Instead, we’ll hope it’s just a client we have yet to enjoy the pleasure of meeting.
The Apprentice 2011 (BBC1) concluded with a 10.7 million peak viewership – which statistically means at least one in six UK readers of this blog will likely share my amazement at the poor quality of the business plans submitted by the four finalists bidding for Alan Sugar’s £250,000 investment.
It may be that the plans were written in isolation, without the benefit of a second pair of eyes to find the obvious omissions of facts, figures and basic research. It is also possible that the finalists’ talents – and we should certainly not underestimate these – simply did not extend into the area of creative thinking and specialised communication that the challenge demanded.
I am sure that none of the finalists will be held back in the careers as a result of their performance on TV, because as they return to the real world they will have the benefit of colleagues and specialist advisors to guide them in their decision making and in the compilation of key business documents.
There is a lesson to be learnt from the final programme: to be good in a certain field of work, or in an aspect of a job, does not automatically mean excellence in all types of communication. I hope that they and the rest of the UK business community will remember that PR and marketing communication specialists can provide wide ranging verbal skills to finesse raw ideas – even cliché-riddled drafts – into compelling documents.
Our spoonful of sugar will help the messages get through!
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.