Since my last foray naturism has been in the news much more than usual, particularly in Scotland, with Steve Gough taking much of the limelight and possibly burying other news a little bit in the process. For instance, the announcement that Daryl Jones has resigned as BN Youth Officer. I don’t know the full story, and to tell you the truth, I’m not sure if any of us needs to know, but according to BN’s website, he left after a complaint was made against him, even though it was later found to have no substance. I am not normally in favour of lying to anyone, but in this instance I don’t think the allegation should have been mentioned and some other diplomatic excuse for Daryl’s departure given. As it stands, people being what they are, they will now speculate on what had been alleged and undoubtedly get it completely wrong, but within their own little circles it will become hard fact. I hope in time a new role can be found for Daryl as it would be a shame if naturism as a whole, and BN in particular, lost his energy.
Daryl’s departure however is counter-balanced by the arrival of Kimberley Craigie from Scotland. Possibly because she is young (18) and a photogenic red head Kimberley received a lot of attention. As the youth officer for Scotland and North of England, which also takes in Northern Ireland, Kimberly is taking on a tough ask, as she tries to encourage other young people in her region to try naturism and join BN.
It doesn’t help Kimberley however, if the media is allowed to get away with sloppy journalism. Just taking two articles resulting from the Great British Skinny-dip event shows what I mean. The Westmoreland Gazette thought British Naturism had around 1.5 million members. Yeah, right. And The Sun – who else – reported that the ‘British Naturist Club’ is 120-years old and that 60 per cent of its members are over 60? That Scotland can boast of two colonies and came out with the glorious line of: “I know what you’re thinking… naturists, they’re all weirdos, right?”
One of the better lines out of the naturist film, Act Naturally, was “Naturist Resort, colonies are for leapers.”
I know what you’re thinking… journalists; they’re all weirdoes’ right!
But maybe it isn’t just the journalists at fault here. When the British press announced Kimberley Craigie’s appointment many of them got her job title wrong. The Sun – yes them again – said she was BN’s new youth officer, as did BBC Radio Scotland’s Sunday Morning with… programme. The Herald Scotland got it almost right, incorrectly using the word ‘Northern’ as did Scotland on Sunday. Getting things right is a matter of pride to many journalists and most newspapers and magazines are happy to publish corrections, The Guardian famously so. The point is, if all these media outlets are consistently getting things wrong and the same things then the fault must be elsewhere.
The role of public relations is not an easy one, being at someone else’s beck and call, trying to resolve queries and questions that affect the organisation being represented means very long hours for someone. But PR is not just one way; information needs to be distributed to a surprising number of outlets, all on speculation with no guarantee that a lot of hard work will pay off. Something unique would make this easier of course, and once such a goldmine is found it needs to be mined for all its worth.
Quite uniquely British Naturism has something that would interest the media and most emphatically promote naturism at the same time: the IPSOS-Mori survey. It was a struggle to even get this survey past the EC, so it seems strange they would not exploit it to within an inch of its life. Yet, the full results and in-depth analysis are still to be published. A reaction report has been posted via various forums, which led to the widely reported and accepted estimate of 4 million naturists in the UK. Even Andrew Welch mentioned it when Emma Cowling interviewed him for her Scotland on Sunday article. I also know for a fact that it was brought up in a magistrates’ court and received short shrift because it was still considered a ‘private survey’ and not fully in the public domain. A job half done is no job at all.
By giving the survey’s results a proper launch, BN will be in control of events. They will be able to talk about what they want to talk about and not have to react to the stories the journalists – not all of whom are sympathetic to naturism by any means – want to do, which always puts naturism in a position of having to defend itself. We shall be in charge of the agenda.
And that ladies and gentlemen, is what we want.