Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Angry of Percy Street

I'm fuming.

I've just wasted more than an hour on a call which could have lasted 30 seconds. If the caller had been upfront and honest.

An organisation called me because they had been 'given my name' in association with my work with NinetyTen and CitizensOnline (at least that's what they said). They felt we should be introduced to senior people in the UK Government to help effect change after the next election.

They asked questions about what I/we do. They listened carefully as I outlined the impact of the network on every aspect of our lives - and how what we do focuses on creating new efficiencies through social technologies.

They asked how we could see ourselves and our services fitting in with local government and national government requirements and processes.

And when I asked what they needed from us they said a 650-word document about what we do, to place in front of Public Sector commissioners (the people with the purse strings).

It would be part of a book (a page in fact) guiding these commissioners in what needs to change.

Oh - and that'll cost me £3995.

Stunned.

I'm angry (image by darrenhester) for a number of reasons:

1. I feel like a fool. I feel fooled. I was (mis)led on to believe there was genuine interest among senior government officials in trying to make sense of the power of collaboration, of wikifixing, of a platform approach to the organisation. In fact I was being asked to buy an advertorial. A 650-word listing. The whole approach was disingenuous and as far from transparent as I ever want to try to see through.
2. This is no way to serve the community of commissioners this content is intended for. Serving the community FIRST is a guiding principle in media for me. To do this you get the best, most relevant content you can get from all sources, rivals included. Certainly NOT JUST FROM THOSE WHO WILL PAY.
3. As a UK taxpayer, I'm concerned at the implication from the vendors of this listing that commissioners will spend public money based on a company's appearance (or otherwise) on a paid-for listing (you say 'book', I say ad listing.) Any UK public sector commissioners that does should be shown the door for both negligence and incompetence.

For the record, those of you with an interest in public sector (particularly commissioners), a number of 90:10 consultants have deep experience of working with UK Governments at both national and local level.

We use listening technologies to discover people who care about issues and use social tools to bring them together and surface their concerns to enable improved efficiencies in the production, marketing and delivery of products and services.

We don't need to appear on a paid-for list to tell you that. If you'd like to know how we can help you, give us a call, drop us an email, let's meet face to face. Ninety Ten awaits.

Just don't expect us to show up in a book sent to you free any time soon.

Tip for everyone else on planet earth: If you are expecting me to pay to create your content say so right up front. It'll save us both a lot of time.

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The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?