Thoughts on ‘Granny Smith’

I have been listening with interest to the ‘Letter to Granny Smith’ serialisation on Radio 4 this week (available on BBC iPlayer for readers outside the UK) which details the life and times of a Post person in the UK. A few things struck me as I listened:

  • The first being that a book about the minutia of a post persons life has managed to become a best seller and serialised on a major radio station. The fact that people would be interested in how mail is sorted into walk sequence and what a sorting frame is – although of interest to someone connected with the business, I am slightly at a loss to understand why this level of detail has struck a chord with the general public.
  • The second thing that struck me was that the general tenure of the piece is harking back to the ‘good old days’ when the post was seen as a public service and the final episode states that the post should be taken back into public ownership – ” the post of a public service not a business”. Although I have some sympathy with this having worked in the industry for many years – the reality of today is very different and our reliance on the post as a the only means of effective communication to the general populous and business has gone – replaced mainly by online services.
  • The third thing that struck me and probably answers my first point is the power of the story. The reason I guess why this has struck a chord is that it is a damn good story – well written and well told. You can imagine yourself in the authors shoes – you can empathise – you feel you understand him and what he is going through. The power of storytelling is underestimated in today’s web enabled, fast moving, online business world – however the impact of this blog/book should be a salutary lesson to communicators everywhere.

I come away from listening to the story with a strong feeling of injustice and the need to do something to right the wrongs of Royal Mail management – which come off very badly in the book. The negative impact on Royal Mail, I believe, will be stronger and longer lasting than that of the recent strikes. I guess Royal Mail underestimated the impact this book would have on the business as usual and are now struggling to find a response – all I have heard so far is trying to argue against the individual points rasied in the book.

Maybe it is time for them to use the power of storytelling to get their point across. My thoughts go back to the ‘Night Train’ film which for the delivery business had, and still has tells a powerful story. Wouldn’t it be great to get a similar story out to tell it from an industries perspective – they will have to be quick though as the ‘damage’ has been done!

Looking round the bloggosphere I can’t find, other than this blog, much positive comment on the delivery industry and Royal Mail in particular. It looks as though delivery and associated companies are ignoring the new way of telling stories through the blog. I may have missed something but isn’t it time they stepped into the 21st century?

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