Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Public Relations Disaster

No, I'm not talking about the AANR skinny-dipping event, that was a public relations coup.

Over at the forum they're talking about positive depictions of nudity in the mainstream media. The administrator provided this article as a "fine" example. One of the members called him out on it, saying that while it was not a hit piece per se, it is a disaster for nudism.

The member is right. Upon second glance, the article is a giant step backwards.

Writer Sarah Perry certainly doesn't set out to portray nudism in a bad light. Her article appears to be open-minded, fair, and well written. The disaster comes from the mouths of the folks at Wildwood Naturist Park, who haven't a clue about how to handle a journalist in order to create positive public relations.

There's all the usual whining about how young people aren't interested in nudism, how the average age is 45, and touting darts, horseshoes and water volleyball as activities isn't going to draw the college crowd.

The owner whines about nobody returning her calls when she tried to buy ads at radio stations and college newspapers. Well, try a little harder, visit these outlets in person.

An 18 year-old naturist is interviewed, but in the process manages to let the writer know that telling her friends is a problem, and generally she doesn't actively try and recruit new members.

Then there is this damaging paragraph:
On the private road leading to Wildwood, visitors reach a red iron gate and a sign that says "Nudity may be encountered beyond this point." Wildwood isn't "clothing optional." Visitors to the resort are asked to disrobe - Taylor and many other naturists think it's the people who keep their clothes on, while looking at people who've taken theirs off, who are perverted.
A friendly welcome sign is far better than such a stern warning, which basically says "keep away", and calling people who wear clothes "perverted" is beyond stupid. Instead, the folks at Wildwood should have presented a more understanding and sympathetic policy, saying that they will work with first-timers to allow them to disrobe at their own pace.
(Manager and part-owner Beatrice) Taylor, 59, theorizes that it's tough to attract young people to nudist parks because they're more self-conscious about their bodies than people a little older. When college students do visit Wildwood, she said, they usually do so out of curiosity and aren't repeat customers.

If people aren't comfortable with their bodies, then becoming nudists isn't right for them, Taylor said. There's a certain time in one's life, usually later, when self-acceptance is achieved, she said - and when people stop worrying about staring and being stared at.
Again, bad public relations, basically saying that college students aren't mature enough to be nudists. C'mon, college students invented streaking, they throw their clothes off on a whim, and their bodies will never look better for their entire lives. You want to know why they never come back? It's the defeatist attitude, the lame activities like the potluck dinners, card games, and the plastic spider decorations at Halloween.

AANR and TNS need to develop a real public relations strategy for these clubs, and educate them on how to deal with the press. Nudism needs talking points with positive phrases and catch words, a list of subjects to avoid or explain in an effective manner, and a real plan for reaching out to communities. The national organizations are wasting their time with their own positive message when the individual clubs are undermining their efforts whenever a reporter sets foot inside their gates.

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