“I wanna tell you a story” said Max Bygraves and the gullible social landlord is enamoured with HCA’s The Emperors New Clothes?
After 30 years and more of not promoting the social housing model the ‘great and the good’ of social housing believe that telling stories about it will change the rigidly held views of Joe Public that (a) social housing is the housing of last choice; (b) that social housing is replete with White Dees, and (c) the social tenant is the archetypal scrounger who can only be bothered to get out of bed in order to watch Jeremy Kyle behind his taxpayer funded drawn curtains on his taxpayer funded 60″ flat screen TV.
Tell stories, appeal to people’s emotions, don’t encumber the populace with fact, and only communicate with them by digital means as the universal panacea of social housing’s reputational problems can be resolved if you tell them a story don’t you now!
Use invisible thread to weave together these stories an at the drop of a hat (^?) everyone will believe social housing is the home of choice that Kings and Queens will demand and flock to, and yes even naked Emperors. That is all it takes don’t you know!
Joe Public will believe a mouse lives in a social housing windmill in Old Amsterdam, is it hardly surprising that they will say the storytellers weave their narrative in their age-old Svengali way to the gullible who want to believe in something so good to be true? The mouse sings every morning how happy he is to live in social housing although he is an anti social mouse making plenty of noise dancing in his clogs on the stairs – but hey all windmills are detached and not flats thankfully.
Let’s get serious. Social housing as a brand, and its a brand whether you like it or not, is in the toilet.
That toilet is a vile one too, a toilet despoiled by Thatcher’s RTB that had a cultural dynamic never challenged by the naked Emperors of merely renting made you a second-class citizen in the great property owning democracy myth she weaved. Recently after repeated attacks by the coalition and the social tenant being epitomised as the most likely welfare scrounger and blamed for all ills along with the lazy consensus amongst social landlords who allowed this, that toilet has become a cess pit or major an open sewer. Then we had the poverty porn of Benefit Street, How to get a Council House and yes another similar ‘storytelling’ exercise in a new poverty porn series about to begin next week.
But ignore all that as I wanna tell you a story!
Stories do work to confirm long held myth as this latest TV poverty porn will, but they don’t change such hardened views and Joe Public even in their most charitable period of the year the month leading up to Christmas when those homeless have sympathy rather than being scorned as Johnny Foreigner beggars will even more believe that social housing is replete with White Dees!
Yet the Svengali’s are preaching to the naked Emperors that telling positive stories that appeal to the emotions of Joe Public will produce a remarkable turnaround in the public psyche. These are all it takes with the only caveat being they are told digitally – a clever caveat as the naked Emperor’s all want to appear up to date and with the technology for their personal standing and they can always sell digital and SM to their pliant boards and SMTs as the most cost effective way of transmitting a message.
Message? What message would that be? Oh lets not bother ourselves with that, there are plenty of ‘our’ tenants who will extol the virtues of social housing and that doesn’t look contrived either and it costs us bugger all too! When the Emperor looks in that mirror he realises that this is putting marketing in the hands of the tenant and loses control of an essential business practice. Mirror mirror on the (Facebook) wall anyone?
The emperors can control the internet of course and only allow it to be a one-way street and only issue positive ‘stories’ abut them. Perhaps the have already written into tenancy agreements what hoteliers in Blackpool have done to their customers – write a negative review and we will fine you £100.
I know says the Emperor lets invite tenants to a workshop and invite their views. You know a fur coat no knickers exercise feigning listening while we coerce them with a buffet lunch. We can even put up messages around the hall to subliminally tell them how good social housing is, maybe even give ten of them a cheap £30 tablet for the best pithy reply to “I like social housing because….”
Oh hang on what are these messages? What is it we want to say? Oh bugger off Joe don’t go making this more difficult than it needs to be. If we knew the positives of social housing we would have been saying them for the last 30 years but haven’t! Fair point Emperor and my don’t you look sartorial today?