How Invicta PR failed Deveron Homes
Yesterday I felt slightly sorry for Invicta and Deveron – after all, business is business – Deveron want to build a development at Sandown that serves their business interests, and Invicta are hired to represent Deveron’s aims in this to the public.
I even felt like reaching out and providing an open letter, suggesting how Deveron could get back on track. After all, my day job is marketing and I deal with PR companies on a regular basis. And a development at Sandown remains a good idea – just not the huge scale that Deveron proposed.
And then I read the snide comments from Mark Cummings at Invicta in the Press and Journal today:
“If a modest expansion of an existing town is not acceptable to Highland Council, I don’t think other developments will be acceptable. Using the analogy of a stack of dominoes, once you push the first one over the rest will fall. What message does refusal send to developers in the corridor?”
What Mark failed to acknowledge is that other developers in the area actually objected to the proposal Invicta were trying to sell – Whiteness developers and Cawdor Estates also have major projects in the works, but also objected the scale proposed for Sandown.
This is not least because it was not a “modest expansion” being suggested for Nairn, but instead a new town in its own right with a new town centre, and aimed to increase the population of the second biggest town in the Highlands in the region of 10%-20%.
While Mark Cummings appears happy to try and spin the truth, the bottom line is that his company failed to do its job, which was to try and ensure the Deveron proposal was passed.
After all, on Invicta’s website they make the claim:
We build powerful political and public support for our clients to ensure exceptional chances of success in overcoming barriers to enterprise caused by regulatory systems as well as local and national government policy.
In other words, Invicta spent their time trying to woo councillors, and sent out leaflets to woo the general ambivalent resident population – and made little or no effort whatsoever to engage the people who might object, presuming they could steamroller over their protests.
I was able to gain an invite for one of their presentations intended to woo political and business leaders – but then was refused after I blogged that I planned to raise difficult questions.
If Invicta had put their thinking cap on, they might have realised that I run a company that has a major online publishing arm, not least in finance and property, while the core of my company does online marketing for one of the UK’s biggest and most successful high street banks, as well as other major brands. You’d think as a local business leader I’d be one of the people whom they should have been trying to impress.
Instead, as I was told I was unwelcome, and unable to raise queries directly with Deveron as part of the normal procedure, then how on earth am I going to be able to be in any position to warm to the project?
Obviously I don’t represent the interest’s of Nairn’s population, and there are organised groups that Invicta should have been especially active in working with – the community councils, Action for Planning Transparency, the Concerned Residents Association, Visit Nairn Tourist Association, Cawdor Estates, Whiteness, etc – yet because Invicta intentionally restricted their target audience, refusing to address the interests of a wide range of parties, thinking they could just talk down at the wider Nairn population, then the wonder is that their policy ever succeeds elsewhere.
Additionally, even if the plans had been approved by the Highland Council, it would then have probably escalated to national politicians because of the claim of contravening the Local Plan – the development would have been bounced back to Scottish Ministers for approval, and MP’s traditionally are far more sensitive to public objections.
Invicta have stepped into Nairn during a time of rising public concern and action, which means that if they really want public support – then they are really going to have to engage the public, and not selectively either.
In the meantime, we await the amended submission, and if Invicta are going to do their job right, they’ll make a point of taking on some of the points above and work with the people of Nairn, instead of trying to patronise us.