07 July 2008

Disability and PR spin

I just received an email from Leonard Cheshire Disability. Or rather, their PR company: "I’m contacting you from the information you supplied on your blog. I saw you have posted about disability and I wanted to tell you about an organization in the UK you may or may not be aware of. Leonard Cheshire Disability have just unveiled six new characters (attached) from its [REMOVED] series on [REMOVED] ahead of a six week campaign to change attitudes to disability. Disabled people have the same desires and aspirations as non-disabled people, in work, education and relationships. The new animations will challenge people’s low expectations about what disabled people can do and will be broadcasted on national television over the summer. The new characters are based on the unscripted voices of real young disabled people talking about the issues that affect their lives. One animation highlights attitudes towards wheelchairs and people with a hearing impairment, while the others focus on things like sex, relationships and bullying. From reading your blog we hope you may believe in the campaign and post to your readers and debate about what it aims to achieve. Clips of the new adverts and the TV adverts from the first series can be found and be embedded from [REMOVED]. The new advert clips will include the new characters mentioned earlier, which you can see at the [REMOVED] website; along with more about the campaign, interviews with the voices behind the characters, and clips of all the current and previous adverts: [REMOVED]"

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Leonard Cheshire and the valuable work it does for those far more seriously disabled than myself. What I object to is their PR company cynically trying to cash in on this blog to promote the cause. Their opening lines show clearly they haven't even followed this blog properly or they would be well aware that I post regularly, if intermittently, on living with a disability and would not have sent me such a patronising plea ("I saw you have posted about disability and I wanted to tell you about an organization in the UK you may or may not be aware of").

I'm a journalist and I write about disability issues sometimes, with that added insight I have from actually being disabled (at least from an official viewpoint, as my disability is not that bad from a personal perspective). Do they honestly think as a meeja professional I would not have heard of Leonard Cheshire? More importantly, do they believe I am that gullible, buyable even, that an email would be all it takes to promote them?

I don't doubt that Nile-On (the PR company) is doing its best to promote a very worthy cause (and gawd knows, disability needs positive press coverage) but cynically trying to exploit or hijack personal blogs is not the way forward. I get very riled by these kind of approaches. It's not the first time and undoubtedly won't be the last, but boy does it raise my hackles...

I'm far more interested in Britain's Missing Top Model as a way of showing the diversity of disability.

1 comment:

Fire Byrd said...

PR firms conceit about peoples gullibilty is amazing. And as you say the assumption that one letter would do it.