If I happened to be running a management course, which I’m not, and if that course happened to have a PR module, which it probably should, there would be no need to cast about for examples of inept public relations.
After all, the gold standard of PR clumsiness has now been set by the ludicrously-named Iona Institute, an obscure prayer-group with aspirations to political influence and with apparently endless access to the State broadcaster, RTÉ. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, the Iona “Institute” managed to place themselves at the heart of a worldwide ridicule-storm, which, of course, you might correctly point out, means nothing to ideologues intent on changing the laws of the small country they inhabit. That’s perfectly true. But what the Iona “Institute” people don’t seem to understand is that the Ireland of the 21st century is not the same place as the Ireland of 1932, a long-lost region they yearn for, a place that will never be seen again in this universe or any other. What they seem to overlook is that Irish people in 2014 inhabit a world where demagogues have been unmasked for the frauds they are, and where overbearing, bullying posturing is the mark of the idiot.
There was a time, not too long ago, when ideologues held some substance in Ireland and were taken seriously by many, but that day is gone. How sad for the people associated with Lolek Ltd, trading as the Iona Institute, that they don’t seem to understand the realities of their doomed crusade. How sad for the Iona prayer group to be the last Japanese soldier on the island, yearning for a lost age. Unfortunately for them, the twilight of Cardinal Paul Cullen’s ultramontane vision has faded into night, even here in this final outpost of extreme Catholic certainty.
It doesn’t matter that I think people calling their prayer-group an Institute are ridiculously-inflated, self-important fools.
And it doesn’t matter that I think their legal threats are simply a means to silence those who disagree with them.
It makes no difference that I laugh at them for being so immature that they can’t tell criticism from hatred.
That’s pretty much what you’d expect of such people.
What does matter is that they have delivered a master-class in ineptitude, and we should all be grateful to them for the lesson. After all, where are we going to find such a spectacular example of incompetence?
Here we have a bunch of religious ideologues, handed an open goal. They knew that the State-run broadcaster would fold at the slightest pressure following its own inept handling of the Reynolds case. They issued their baseless legal threats and the State-run broadcaster duly obliged, but here’s the rub.
This Christian prayer-group declined the offer of a contribution to a charity and instead opted to grab the cash.
It reminds me of an experiment carried out a while back where the researchers investigated the ability of chimps to recognise written symbols. When they showed the animals written numerals, they behaved in a perfectly rational manner, but when they showed them jelly-beans the chimps went absolutely crazy.
That was how I saw the Iona reaction to the money. They turned into a bunch of chimps and that was their downfall. All they could see was short-term victory, crushing the opposition, and they were too stupid to understand that the rest of the world would see nothing more than a bunch of religious hicks trying to bully people into silence. As a result, far from stifling criticism in Ireland, they have managed to make themselves a worldwide object of ridicule.
Suddenly, instead of being a small American-funded prayer group with political ambitions, they’re exposed as an overbearing, narrow-minded crowd of backwater ideologues trying to impose their sterile vision on their fellow citizens.
It doesn’t say much for the quality of their PR management. Maybe it would be no harm to leave this one off the CV.