The campaign, dubbed Operation Pink owing to the TSA's love of fuchsia, originates from the Chartered Institute of Housing and the G15 group of the largest housing associations in London among others.
In the past year Grant Shapps has said publicly of the TSA:
- ‘I am not terribly impressed that the authority has so far spent its time surveying 27,000 tenants to get responses and then writing a draft report about what it might do. I want to see action from those organisations - they are spending a lot of public money.’
- ‘I know housing associations care passionately for tenants… I am not sure setting up an administrative bureaucracy to care for tenants is the best possible solution so I am slightly sceptical but no decisions have been made.’
- 'The TSA has made incredibly slow progress, if the truth be known.'
From a communications perspective, Grant Shapps' frustration with the TSA provides an interesting challenge. Every time I read one of these quotes I flinched, putting myself in the position of the TSA's comms team. How would I respond if I was managing public relations for an organisation that had been roundly scorned by the very person that in six months time could hold its fate in his hands?
My tactic would be to come out fighting. I'd put up a strategic communications calendar up on the wall of the office and I'd mark every day leading up to the election, indeed every minute of every day, for proving the organisation's worth. I'd use every communications tool in the book to show pound for pound value for money and efficiency. From speeches to web presence, media relations and events, I'd lobby the Conservatives hard, emphasising the TSA's adaptability to change, capability to drive service improvements and complete commitment to put tenants first and I'd ensure not one penny was wasted in the process. I'd call on supportive organisations with clout to back us up and I'd make as much noise as possible while doing it. I wondered why the TSA didn't appear to be doing any of these things.
Then on Wednesday, the TSA's annual report dropped into my inbox. Judging by that publication, Operation Pink and the five press releases issued in the last two weeks, the fight back has started. The Conservatives may not win next year's general election but whatever the result, the TSA can only improve its position by standing up for itself. I will watch its progress with interest.