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Firstly, my apologies for the very late publication of today's column.
I have been up most of the night fielding phone calls and answering emails from all over the country and indeed, all over the world.
Those of you who saw this item on Campbell Live last night will have a good idea why that might be.
As I alluded to last week, there has been some trouble between the local RC flying club and the "grumpy old men" of NZ.
The goal of the club was to congratulate the local district council (SWDC) for their support in making the local airfield available to the club and to show them how instrumental that support was in generating visitors to the region and an "awareness" of the district that stretched right around the globe.
Unfortunately, just a day after we invited people to thank the SWDC, and before they were even aware we'd done so, they sent a very threatening letter to the club and threatened to trespass our members.
Immediately I pulled the video inviting people to congratulate the SWDC -- but several hundred emails from all over the world had already been sent.
It seems that the SWDC's move was a bit of a stuff-up.
Instead of bathing in reflected glory for their support of the local club and being seen to be "switched on" enough to gain huge leverage from a tiny bunch of people that have a world-wide fan-base -- they came out of it with egg plastered firmly all over their faces.
An even bigger casualty of this was the national model flying body whose utter mis-handling of the events leading up to this situation can only be described as "unbelievable".
The coup de gras has to be them being caught lying on national TV -- stating that the issue came entirely from the council -- only to have the council say that they were acting on allegations made by the national body.
So, as the various parties pick themselves up and dust themselves off -- what can any similar groups learn from this?
Well firstly -- there is no such thing as a "local" issue any longer.
Thanks to the internet, even events that seem to be of no import to the rest of the world can explode into issues that involve tens of thousands of people half a planet away.
Although the SWDC and the national model flying body might have thought that this was something that was strictly a Tokoroa issue and that what they did would only be scrutinised by and affect a tiny group of individuals, they have now learned that the Net has changed the way such issues ought to be handled.
Any group or public body that doesn't have someone in their PR department who is savvy to the Net culture and the power of this medium will undoubtedly find themselves just like the SWDC -- a rabbit caught in the headlights of global attention.
And those organisations that stoop to "dirty tactics" to achieve some kind of agenda will also find that it is very easy to be caught out when your activities are exposed to pubic scrutiny.
In the second decade of the 21st century -- it's no longer "what you know" or "who you know" but "how many you know".
It's one thing to piss off a small group of grown men playing with toy planes.
It's a whole other situation when you piss off tens of thousands of people around the world.
Where to from here?
I'm hoping (but not optimistic) that all the parties involved will put their "sensible socks" on and take a proper, *informed* look at this situation and the best way to turn it into a "good news" story that sees reputations restored and a smile on their faces.
Will it happen?Sorry... no time for a second column today.
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