I know this blog has around 3,000 readers (and rising). I have no idea who any but a tiny fraction actually are. Google Analytics tells me that most of them are in the UK, and around 500 live in the US. The rest are scattered around the globe, and it’s these who, when I check my stats, most intrigue to me. Who, I wonder idly, is my one reader in Ethiopia? My one reader in Saudi Arabia? My one reader in Iran? That’s their business; I’m not calling on them to tell me.
One thing I have become aware of in the last week is just how many UK readers are funeral directors. The comments on posts about the Saif’s research into funeral prices are some evidence of this; the number of personal emails yet more. If there are two topics that get funeral directors reaching for their keyboards, they are funeral prices and Co-operative Funeralcare. Not, perhaps, surprisingly, the Co-op has many adversaries who email me and, in recent times, just one persistent defender. I am always interested in defences of Funeralcare. Once upon a time I used to send a link to all pejorative blog posts to a Co-op press officer called Phil Edwards, begging him to give me the good news about Funeralcare. He never replied.
Why did Phil not reply? Bad manners? Overwork? Disdain? I don’t know. He never replied, remember. But I guess it may have something to do with the trust Funeralcare places in the power of marketing. Because brand image is all. And it doesn’t have to be earned. Not if you can throw enough money at the right agency to create the right ‘perception’ and enough of it. We all saw the telly ad, right? Cost a few bob. It’ll probably pay for itself lots of times over. So who cares about some little pipsqueak consumer advocate with a PC and a Blogger account? In anticipation of an injunction or some other form of legal intimidation I long ago made over all my worldly possessions to other people for safekeeping. It looks as if I was flattering myself.
I say that, but I don’t believe it. I don’t believe that an independent consumer guide published by a respected, mainstream publisher, complemented by a lively website, cannot do an honest and effective job of creating perceptions which are closer to the truth.
Because this isn’t just about me, some little pipsqueak, etc. Self-appointed experts are not the ones we necessarily admire, but when they research carefully and think hard and test their opinions and listen properly and sideline their egos and speak with and for those who are decent and honest, they are valuable servants of a good cause. So to all those who have written to me, I say thank you. And to those who haven’t, please do, because this is about all of us. The address: email@example.com
Jessica Mitford took the easy route with the US funeral industry. She held it up to ridicule. Great fun, but not much use to anyone looking for a good funeral director or wanting to create a good funeral ceremony. The emphasis of the Good Funeral Guide will remain the celebration of all that is best in the UK funeral industry. So do, please, send in your good news stories. So that we can accentuate the positive and show people the best it gets.