David Parkin gets a tongue lashing and highlights crass PR stunts

I SUPPOSE you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

That was my conclusion when this time last week an email dropped into my inbox with the words: “Do we have a right of reply to the unmitigated pile of poorly-researched c**p you’ve published in your article today on Sheffield City Airport?”

Ooh dear, who’ve I annoyed now?

Neville Martin, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses.

He, unsurprisingly, had taken issue with my criticism of the FSB spending time campaigning for the reopening of the airport.

I felt there are other more pressing issues affecting small businesses that it could be spending its time on.

And I shared some contrary views on the FSB proposal from Sheffield Chamber of Commerce.

Anyway, it annoyed Neville, who pointed out that a petition organised by the FSB has attracted more than 5,000 signatures, “overwhelming” support, he says.

His reaction to my comments suggests he’s been wandering the streets of Sheffield with his clipboard collecting the signatures himself.

He points out that the FSB campaign has won the support of local politicians including Lib-Dem Nick Clegg, Labour’s Paul Blomfield, Clive Betts and David Blunkett  and Tory MEP Timothy Kirkhope.

Well my experience of politicians is that they’ll support anything if it gets them a vote or two.

Anyway, given I’ve promised to give Neville a right of reply, here’s what Neville had to say: “Contrary to the implication given in your article, there is currently a consortium of private sector investors which sees great potential in the future of Sheffield City Airport. They are seeking an urgent meeting with the present owners of the site to negotiate terms for the acquisition and reinstatement of the airport and those of us with vision for the future of aviation in the region perceive that this will provide time-conscious business travellers with direct links to major commercial centres in the UK and Europe (50 minutes to London City, as opposed to the 69 minutes on HS2, for which we must wait 20 years). These services are clearly viable: KLM are on record as saying that the Sheffield – Amsterdam service was its most successful launch in its history.

“An effective regional business aviation policy, based on convenient, fast-turnaround, city-hopper shuttle flights from the very heart of the South Yorkshire industrial centre will provide a step change in the performance of the sub-region economy. It will attract the inward investment and provide the trading opportunities to enable the city region’s high technology manufacturing, advanced producer services and creative industries to drive up economic performance and begin to fill the undoubted freight capacity provided by Robin Hood Airport (and yes, the two airports CAN work in tandem!)

“As for the views of the Chamber of Commerce, it is disappointing that a respected and cherished past icon of the business establishment fails to grasp the future potential for the development of the City Region, but tradition will not be allowed to stand in the way of economic progress. Our campaign has the power of logic on its side and is attracting increasingly influential support.”

Let’s hope his next email to me is a bit more polite. However given his comments about the Chamber of Commerce as a “past icon”, I don’t think an entente cordiale is going to break out anytime soon.

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WE get some shocking press releases sent to us with spelling and grammatical errors and with weak and dull subjects.

But rarely do we get them as crass as the one recently received from VINeataly, an Italian bar in Granary Wharf in Leeds.

I always thought its name was poor, now it is being forced to change it because another larger company with a similar name has threatened legal action.

So it has launched a competition to get people to suggest new names.

That sounds straightforward.

But just look at the press release it issued to announce the competition.

“Just like Britain needed volunteers at the height of its two World Wars, a local Italian venue in Leeds city centre is calling on fellow city-goers to help it out in its very own hour of need.
 
“But forget signing up for National Service, because what the owners of VINeataly are asking for is far more straightforward. They want you to help to come up with a brand new name.”

I’ll spare you the rest of the press release. Cringeworthy doesn’t even begin to describe it.