Lots of controversy on Twitter today about Start Up Britain – the new website being endorsed by Cameron as the way to kickstart the economy.
The problem with new media is that people take out from what they read on Twitter – long before they actually visit the website and find out what’s really going on. This means the ‘take-out’ is more important than the reality. And that’s where Start Up Britain has created themselves a problem…
The reality is that Start Up Britain is NOT a government initiative, it’s more of a collaborative joint venture among various commercial organisations. And this is where the problem comes. For, while the site is billed as a ‘not for profit’ organisation, it’s clearly designed to generate lots of revenue for the participating businesses, many of whom seem to be clients of the PR agency who launched the site – Seven Hills.
It’s this uncomfortable marriage of the government endorsed/not for profit veneer over a clearly commercial motive which leaves the nasty taste in the mouth.
Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% behind enterprise and encouraging small business – and there’s nothing wrong with making money but let’s be clear: Start Up Britain is a commercial collective who are using this as a vehicle to make money from the boom in Enterprise – with some rather priceless free endorsement from our PM thrown in.
It’s exactly the reason why the old Business Links weren’t allowed to recommend any specific business or product.
[The rather sad thing is that, behind all this razzle dazzle PR fanfare from our PM, as a result of the cuts great enterprise encouraging institutions – like the British Library Business and IP Centre where I have been a mentor for the past three years – lose their funding this Thursday, and as a result are having to severely curtail their activity. Meanwhile, HMRCE together with state owned banks continue to wind up Britain’s existing small businesses on a daily basis.]
Nonetheless, well done to Seven Hills for creating lots of PR noise – it’s just not all the right noise I am sure they wanted to hear.