Are the Transport and border staff strikes and the Dairy protest udderly ill-conceived ?

Transport strikes. Timing is everything.

Firstly, this is not a political blog. It merely serves to highlight where I believe PR is an issue.

Two pieces of protest/industrial action in 2 days. Both with legitimate concerns and with a right to do what they are doing.

However, already this morning on the radio I have heard more sympathy for the dairy farmers’ cause than for the transport and passport/immigration workers. Why? It could be the channel I listen to (BBC Radio 5 Live) and the demographic, or it could be that in terms of timing, it is all wrong for the transport and passport protesters.

Actually, let me clarify. It is all perfect in terms of awareness. It could not be threatened at a more inopportune time for the authorities. Talk about being listened to!

It is Machiavellian in its cynical brilliance and over-the-barrel manipulation of an opportunity. However, that does not mean it is smart in terms of PR. Why? Because the country, never mind the Government, doesn’t like it. It smacks of opportunism and blackmail. Now, that may well be why it is so brilliant and may well be the point of a strike – hit them where it hurts, get the attention, leverage the opportunity.

BUT…in a country that is still flush with national pride and (in the main) looking forward to the Olympics with glee, playing the awareness game for your own devices against this backdrop is unlikely to be looked upon with much sympathy by the general public.

Some people will absolutely love the sheer audacity of it but they are probably already converted to the cause. The risk that the unions are playing here is that they will leave the rest of the populace at best cold, at worst, inflamed.

Their cause may well be very merited. However, by choosing to threaten this action right now, perfect timing though it may be in terms of their grievances being aired, I humbly suggest that they will alienate themselves, thus losing any longer-term battles for hearts and minds with regards the general public – never mind Theresa May MP!

Does anybody care? Yes but….

You see, anyone can get publicity. Stand on top of a building in a superhero costume, swim in the Thames during the Boat Race etc but not all publicity is good publicity, whatever “they” (whoever “they” are) says.

By contrast, the dairy farmers have made a succinct point that the price they are getting leaves them without profit and in some cases with a loss. We can all relate to that. We can all relate to the price of a pint of milk or maybe even a pasty (can’t we Dave?).


We could probably all relate to the transport and passport workers strike if it was better handled too. However, with the search for maximum impact for their campaign and with it maximum awareness, they may well have just made folks who might well have sided with them very aware that they don’t like how this is being handled.

PR isn’t just about the message.

Timing is everything. The unions know this but I think they got it wrong this time.