The Art of Negotiation – a skill we all need a lesson in

OK – so I’m having a little bit of a hissy fit but, frankly, I think I’m entitled to one.

Our favourite beach - Terra Estrechta in the eastern Algarve

Our favourite beach - Terra Estrechta in the eastern Algarve

I had a really terrific week in Portugal with my beloved, in the sunshine, swimming in a beautiful pool and in the sea, meeting nice people, eating lovely grilled fish, leaping about in the surf and I returned home at the weekend feeling energised and enthused. Hey ho, I thought. Let’s crack on in this positive mode and see what joy and good PR vibes we can bring to the party this week.

So, it is Wednesday. Only Wednesday. One client who cajoled me into agreeing a temporary contract from May and should have reviewed it with me during September hasn’t bothered to do so, despite my reminding him. A more cynical person’s view would be that the M.D. thinks its highly amusing to hold such power over me and he just wants to make me sweat. I just think it’s bloody unprofessional!

Another client whom I feel strongly deserves shedloads of support and encouragement from their internal PR advisors, and in turn their specialist media, are not getting it. I am talking about Exercise TRANSGLOBE. The Navy, Army and Air Force PR machines (and the MOD in general) and associated media outlets have shown little or no support whatsoever for the endeavours of the TRANSGLOBE crews, nor the organisation behind the adventurous training exercise, the largest of its kind ever to take place. Whilst I am being retained on a peanut and a half for the duration of the TRANSGLOBE to advise the Project Team in the event of a crisis and to put out news updates, I am yet to see any press coverage or PR push from anywhere from within the services themselves. I think the lack of support for TRANSGLOBE is monstrous. They should never have been allowed to proceed with this Exercise without having a realistic level of funding and internal support in place. It is making everyone’s lives in the organisational team that much harder, all still trying to get the job done without the necessary funding being available to even allow for blogs and images to be sent back off the yachts more than twice a week (that’s just the words – no bandwidth for images), to be employing a volunteer to manage the event website and all the uploads which is why the website does not reflect a level of professionalism being adopted in other quarters.

Even using my excellent contacts and adopting my most tenacious attitude, I have had immense difficulty securing interest (let alone coverage) from the specialist yachting media apart from one or two mentioning the launch of the Exercise back in May and giving us website coverage for the start day and yet there are so many heartwarming human interest stories. The broadcasters and IPC Marine Media titles are not remotely interested in giving us any coverage either and yet JSASTC (Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre) are apparently training around 4,000 new sailors a year.  Thank you to Yachts & Yachting Online and Sailing Today who have shown some interest, also Blue Sheets and BYM News (the latter is now up for sale), and one or two other online outlets.

As I keep reminding the Project Team, at the end of the day, and especially from a media perspective, this is all just about three old 67ft Challenge yachts cruising around the world with a load of navy, army and airforce personnel on board. Yes, many have just seen active service and are recuperating by joining this voyage but hell – when there are so many dead and injured soldiers and a lack of funding to provide them with the right equipment etc, why bother covering what looks like a jolly?  The media don’t even want to bother to dig a little deeper.

I will keep plodding on and there are certainly some stages of the TRANSGLOBE that are going to be more newsworthy than others. For example, the three yachts are entered in the Rolex Sydney-Hobart and one of the three is guaranteed a place on the prizewinning podium as there’s a special trophy awarded to any military boats entered. As far as we’re aware, at the moment, our three yachts are the only three entered and they’re all owned by the MOD and used for military personnel sail training.

Leg 4 of 13 sets off from Cape Town to Perth on either 5/6 October – weather dependent. Then on the following 5th stage from Perth to Sydney there is an amazing guy, an RAF Flight Sergeant called Jamie Deighton, sailing on Discoverer and who suffers from MS and he has got his place on board against all the odds. I’ll be writing about him nearer the time.

Anyway, if you have been, thanks for listening…

P.S. Just successfully negotiated with my ‘naughty’ client! YAY!

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