San Antonio’s P.R. Policy Costs Town At Least Half A Million Euros, Without Achieving Any Of Its Objectives.
“Stupid Is As Stupid Does” Forrest Gump
Stupid is as stupid does, so said Forrest Gump in quoting some sage advice from his mother.
Considering the facts of the San Antonio Government’s 2016 regulations prohibiting the employment of P.R.s in the town, it seems likely that Mrs Gump would find those involved were indeed, pretty darned stupid.
In this report we explain the current regulations and calculate their financial consequences.
Background until 2015
Though Public Relations, P.R., is a sector that encompasses many different functions and working environments, for our purposes we are just referring to the job of P.R. as it applies to Ibiza—which is the often maligned individuals who have the task of enticing you into their employer’s bar or club.
Throughout Ibiza and many other tourist destinations, it is often the first job open to a newly arriving worker.
To say it is the bottom rung of the ladder is something of an injustice as it is a very tough job, but in terms of the conditions of employment, it is a job many people prefer to avoid.
With remuneration always heavily reliant on results, few people have the tenacity combined with a natural gift of the gab and ability to not take all the rejection personally.
That said, they do exist. I know of several ’professional’ P.R.s who are extremely good at what they do, and have chosen to remain in that role for many years—earning a good old whack in the process.
Historically employers could have chosen to employ their P.R.s on full and legal contracts reflecting the P.R.’s actual working hours and pay.
In reality however, many of Ibiza’s P.R.’s have been working entirely illegally, or with a minimum hours contract and ’on paper only’ wages.
For many years there have been more ‘workers’ coming to Ibiza than there are contracted jobs available. With those businesses prepared to flout employment laws at no financial risk (other than Government fines of course) by taking people on commission only P.R. jobs, it was perhaps inevitable that their numbers would grow to saturation levels, particularly in heavily competitive areas such as San Antonio’s West End.
I certainly know of many visitors who were fed up with the never ending trade touting. With so many P.R.s trying to earn their daily Passata and Pasta, a good number of businesses were bemoaning practices such as P.R.s from other bars touting on their terrace and the roving P.R. who would attempt to seal a deal before people even approached the town centre.
The San An Jacket System
In San Antonio the Town Hall decided something had to be done and a new licencing system was introduced.
Under this scheme those bars and clubs wanting to employ a P.R. had to pay an annual fee of 1,500€, and through the full legalisation of the person in the job, a further 500€ a month in contract costs.
A six month season would therefore cost the business 4,500€ in revenue paid over to the public purse.
The official P.R.s were issued with a jacket that confirmed the name of their employer.
It was not a perfect system, but many employers bit the bullet and went legit.
It did not stop illegal P.R.s being employed in addition to the legal and clearly identified ones, but as it was clear and immediately obvious which were not working legally it at least prevented the worst of the practices that were causing upset.
Obviously the additional cost was not welcomed by employers, many of whom were already facing restrictions on trade from a raft of other regulations coming out of the town hall at the same time. It is quite telling that many of those same employers are the first to voice their opinion as to the insanity that follows—but we’ll come to that in a moment.
There is a lack of clear facts regarding the revenue received under the jacket system. Asking those working in business in the thick of the West End estimates vary from 100 to 400.
We will be ultra conservative and base our sums on 120 P.R.s—an odd number but you can probably see why already.
At just 120 officially registered P.R.s the government revenue would be over half a million euros—540,000€
Of course it could be far more. 200 and you are getting on for a cool million euros.
2016 found new political colours in the San Antonio town hall following the municipal elections.
With much debate around the need to ‘clean up’ San Antonio’s image in the election campaigning, it was inevitable the new powers would want to take some immediate steps to assert their authority and position. This was all the more likely due to part of the new coalition government standing on what amounted to a single policy platform of reclaiming the town.
The new Government issued several ordinances relating to the sale and consumption of alcohol, and the one that brings us to this report, an ordinance of the permissible methods a business could use to promote themselves.
It was decreed that all street P.R.ing would be banned, even from a business’ own premises.
Given the widely held view that P.R.s were a nuisance, a bit of a pest, there was not too much sleep lost over what was presented as their imminent demise. The ordinance was not restricted to P.R.s and if anything more people seemed to consider the banning of street parades, a feature of Ibiza nightlife for many years, an unnecessary step.
The season started with some debate as to how the new regulations would be enforced. I think it is fair to say many employers were playing their cards close to their chest, waiting to see the level of enforcement put into practice.
I recall one business in the West End receiving a fine for P.R.ing from their own doorway right at the start of the season. They received considerable support and sympathy, and perhaps for a brief moment it looked like the days of the P.R. were over.
That moment was very brief indeed.
I am sure there will have been some other sanctions, but I have not heard of any.
It was not long before P.R.s were back out on the street doing their stuff, as they always had done, but actually going back to the completely wild west version of P.R.ing prior to the vest system.
The reality turns out, as many people suspected, that the regulations had no teeth whatsoever because there was no system of policing them.
The acute shortage of police in Ibiza and especially San Antonio is well known. With so many more serious issues to take their time, the Police could not be expected to take the job on if they wanted to or not. They simply do not have the manpower.
With the Ajuntamento making no provision for any alternative way of regulating P.R.s , it was not long before the businesses had a clear view that they could return to past practices—but now in the quite ludicrous situation that they were not allowed to employ them legally even if they would want to do so.
The regulations state that there cannot be a P.R., so you cannot employ one on a contract, full or false.
There is widespread agreement among the many workers and business owners I have spoken to that there are as many P.R.s on the streets now as there ever have been, if not more.
They work with relative impunity, and any sanctions they receive are far more likely to come from a neighbouring bar upon who’s terrace toes they step, than from any official source.
If you accept that a government has a responsibility to pass legislation only alongside a method of enforcing that legislation, and surely they do have that responsibility, the new regulations have to be seen as a blunder of epic proportions.
The town hall have taken us from a situation that, whilst not perfect, had created some semblance of order in the P.R. world, and at the same time brought anything between a minimum of 500,000€ up to 1,000,000€ or even more, into the public coffers.
What they have taken us to is a return to the P.R. wild west of the past, and lost all that revenue in the process.
What have they achieved? Momentary rhetoric in placating the citizens of San Antonio who wanted some post election assurance of a clean up. Had they achieved that clean up you could say fair enough. Whether you agreed with the regulations, they are the elected government and they have the mandate to decide that the removal of P.R.s from our streets is worth the loss of revenue.
But they haven’t done that, they haven’t even got a plan for trying to do that.
They have lost the town a huge amount of money to absolutely no purpose.
Makes you wonder who the pickpockets really are?