Spare a thought for the National Trust’s press office and social media team today.
The charity has been criticised by the Daily Telegraph because the word “Easter” isn’t included in the name of its annual egg hunt.
The coverage has been massive. One commentator has called it a “staggering act of political correctness” and even Prime Minister Theresa May has weighed into the debate, saying that “what the National Trust is doing is frankly just ridiculous”.
Of course, national newspapers criticising organisations for supposed political correctness is nothing new.
Just taking Easter as an example:
- Last year, an MP criticised chocolate companies for not including the word Easter on their chocolate eggs
- A town in the US was, like the National Trust, criticised for removing the word “Easter” from its egg hunt
- A school in Seattle decided to call Easter eggs “spring spheres”
And many of us who worked in local government comms a decade or so ago will remember the annual calls from national journalists in early December, innocently asking about local plans for Christmas.
In fact, the “politically correct council cancels Christmas” story eventually became such a tired old trope that it was the subject of an excellent myth-busting article by none other than the Daily Telegraph.
But even in the context of the inglorious history of newspaper stories about joyless lefties ruining national festivals, this latest offering is pretty thin gruel.
Yes, this year’s egg hunt doesn’t include the word Easter in the title, but look at the promotional video of it. Literally the first two words are “This Easter…”. And the shortened URL they link to is “Cadbury.co.uk/Easter”.
As well as this, Cadbury has tweeted a photo of some of its marketing materials that includes liberal use of the word “Easter”. And as the National Trust statement makes clear, the word “Easter” is mentioned 13,000 times on its website.
I’m sure today has been pretty unpleasant for the National Trust comms team, but the good news is that there’s unlikely to be any long-term damage.
Usually, the things that really affect reputation are when organisations have not been true to their values or behaved in a way that they would struggle to justify to their supporters.
This, on the other hand, is a fuss about nothing. It’s just a shame that, for a few days at least, it’s likely to distract the National Trust from the brilliant work it does letting people know about the special places it looks after.