Jackie Murphy comments on RDO’s new communications strategy22nd June 2012
Following last month’s brainstorming session, The Resort Development Organisation (RDO)’s Communications Council has been drafting a new strategy for Board approval. Council member Jackie Murphy from Flagship Consulting comments on the new approach.
“I share your frustration when, once again, we read about the out-dated sales practices by ‘dodgy timeshare sales men’ that happened twenty years ago. ‘We are different now’ we all say, ‘we are regulated, we have thousands of happy owners and few others offer the quality and the holiday experience we do.’ This is all true, but the problem is we have not been good at communicating it.
“We have to acknowledge certain truths. Firstly, that the industry did sell in an unacceptable manner twenty odd years ago, but now we must show what has been done to prevent that happening again and, more importantly, how we have moved on. The second problem is that we have become very defensive and sensitive about talking to the media to put our side of the story. And as a result, as we saw in the interviews with Lisa Minot from The Sun and Steve Keenan from The Times On-line at RDO2 in Marbella, there is little understanding of timeshare today and its holiday products, nor of RDO’s role and activities.
“It is the responsibility of RDO to ensure stakeholders, including the media, know about the trade body and its role. The Communications Council has been drafting a strategy for a media outreach programme – to include media meetings; comprehensive media information packs and briefings (key facts and figures about the industry today, enforcement and guidance from panel of experts re resale etc) and invitations to key writers to visit resorts and to write about the timeshare holiday experience. But the organisation has limited resources to implement a full-blown PR campaign.
“Besides, it is not just up to RDO to communicate with the media, it is up to all of us; after all, if an industry is ‘silent’ about its activities, that in itself breeds suspicion and in a vacuum of information people will assume the worst. The industry is always passionate about its holiday product and I would love to see that passion being communicated to and through the media.
“We realise that talking to the press can be a little daunting; so at RDO3 in London this autumn RDO’s CEO Paul Gardener Bougaard and I will be coordinating a workshop designed to help you understand the media and its needs, as well as looking at how we ‘target’ potential timeshare owners by talking about the timeshare experience in a different way. The workshop will also share the experiences of those who have undertaken media relations programmes, so you can learn what does work and where to be a bit more careful!! And we will have with us a journalist to tell you how to approach the media.
“This is all about giving you the tools to talk to the press and to do your bit in turning round that media perception! As I said, it is up to all of us to manage the reputation of our industry, so do join us at the Communications and PR Breakout Session at RDO3!”
Originally published in RDO’s newsletter on 22 June 2012