The Labour Government’s obvious willingness to open its doors to
the business community may be creating a whole new genre of community
affairs - the corporation as Government agency. Microsoft is the latest
in a series of well known brand names, with a virtual, if somewhat
disputed, monopoly in their sector, whose community relations activity
has enabled the Government to outsource areas of public information.
Microsoft has linked up with Leonard Cheshire, the New Deal and the DfE
in order to explain the obligations created for employers by the new
Disability Discrimination Act. The Workability project will include a
number of branded roadshows, staged by Eclat Marketing, which Microsoft
will use to explain the implications of the legislation. Having taken on
the role of Government agency, Microsoft’s decision to outsource with
the appointment of Eclat indicates that this could prove to be a
profitable generator of new business for PR and marketing agencies.
There are few in-house departments that have the resources to start
running a quasi-Governmental campaign on top of their normal day-to-day
management of reputation.
When Sky hooked up with the DfE and the Science Museum to run a school
leavers’ career advice service, last year, for example, the
implementation of the pounds 6 million community affairs programme was
handed to social marketing agency Good Business, with additional
promotion work for Red Rooster.
So who will be next in line for a Government job? With so much attention
focused on the potential negative impact of the Dome publicity for
sponsors, and the much reiterated point that the money would have been
better spent on community infrastructure, you could do worse than look
to some of the main protagonists at Greenwich.
Might we yet see UK’s best known chemist acting as a corporate buffer
between the embattled Department of Health and the less than satisfied
customers of the NHS?