Despite assumptions to the contrary I very seldom make complaints or foi requests to the council. The council’s failure to publicise the recent royal visit was an exception and I think a valid one, as one of the great benefits of this visit was the extra money that would be spent in Margate by visitors from outside the area.
With the onset of winter and having visited Margate yesterday, I genuinely think that this potential extra trade could have been make or break for some businesses.
When it comes to the internet the council have taken the top spaces for “whats on in Thanet” searches, having used their resources to put their sites at the top of the list, then they have an obligation to bring home the goods.
I did what I could to get them to publicise the visit, even did a blog post about the problem see http://thanetonline.blogspot.com/2011/11/council-website-misplaces-royal-visit.html and in the end I submitted an official complaint to them, in the hope that they will do something about the dreadful way they handle their web publicity.
So below my compliant to them in blue, their response in red, my reply to their response in blue.
Subject: official complaint 71111
Date: 07/11/2011 09:43:45 GMT Standard Time
I wish to make an official complaint about the web publicity relating to the royal visit on 11th November.
Some details of this were posted on the council’s website homepage this week and on Friday the council issued a press with a more detailed itinerary, this press release wasn’t embargoed.
At some point on Friday the existing details of the visit were removed from the councils website homepage leaving no details of the visit on the council’s websites whatsoever.
The three council funded events/tourism sites http://www.warmingwords.org.uk/ http://www.visitthanet.co.uk/ andhttp://communityportal.thanet.gov.uk/home/ don’t mention the event at all. Visit Thanet has two conflicting events listed:
“Fri 11 Nov 2011 Margate Old Town History Walkers MargateMargate Visitor Information Centre, The Droit House, Stone Pier, Margate, Kent 12:00 01843 223300 Fri 11 Nov 2011 Margate's Historic Shops History Walkers Margate Margate Visitor Information Centre, The Droit House, Stone Pier, Margate, Kent 11:00 01843 223300”
The councils Facebook wall hasn’t mentioned the event http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thanet-District-Council/83700846372?sk=wall the councils Twitter account is silent about the issue, see http://twitter.com/#!/ThanetCouncil
The details of the itinerary publisher in the press release on Friday also appeared on the royal website on Friday, so this can’t be a security issue.
I should point out that the cost to the local economy, in terms of lost visitors due to the council’s failure to publicise this event, will be considerable.
Best regards Michael
In a message dated 02/12/2011 17:02:43 GMT Standard Time, ****@Thanet.gov.uk writes:
**** I will post the complaint up on the blog with your response, but without your name as I posted the complaint when I made it so some people will be looking out for the response.
As I have said before there are some serious problems with the way the council is handling publicity and press releases, much relates to faults in their basic handling of IT, as an example the councils notification of Wednesdays strike appeared on their facebook wall yesterday, Friday.
Obviously I won’t put this forward for review as it serves no purpose and only increases officer workload.
Best regards Michael
What to me in all this is the pits is that the council have now started backdating their feeds, so that although the information appears as though it was posted on the right day, it doesn’t actually appear until after the event.
The picture above is a screen shot taken just now, the red boxes around the councils feed and today’s date on my computer, as you see they actually posted the notification of their strike late, after the event.
If however you look on their facebook wall, see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Thanet-District-Council/83700846372?sk=wall you will see that the post is dated 23rd November.
A further look at their facebook posts and you will notice something really odd, the dates of the posts are not sequential.
Now I am fairly adept with ITC and I could do this and I am sure all the geeks who read this blog could explain how it was done, and may well do so.
But two questions here;
Could you do it?
If you could do it, would you continue to do it consistently after it had been pointed out to you?
As it was, with the coverage of the royal visi,t which only appeared, predated after the event and after my complaint.