The 30 days of April has seen the extremes of the Beast from The East 2.0 to soaring summer temperatures, and the same can be said for the good, the bad and the ugly of PR. April Fool’s Day brought some interesting attempts at catching the attention of a fickle market, while public relations seems to have an unlikely new spokesperson in the form of Dean Gallagher. But let’s start with the good, if not the down right great, that is the Virgin Money London Marathon.
The Good: The Mighty Marathon
Once again, the annual event showcased London at its best as 40,000 people toed the start line for the world-famous London Marathon to tick off what turned out to be the toughest conditions faced by VMLM participants on record. Mo Farah secured a victory with a new British record of 2:06:2, while Paula Radcliffe’s fastest British female record remains safe, with the first female over the line Vivian Cheruiyot finishing at 2:18:31.
With two of our own Mongooses taking part in their first ever marathon, it’s safe to say the office was firmly invested in the race. We joined the thousands of spectators on the route to cheer on the runners, offering as much support as possible in the challenging conditions and witnessing the majesty of the marathon. Like Matt and James, 58% were first timers hoping to come away with a slice of London Marathon history. With a record 386,050 people entering the ballot, the highest number for any marathon in the world, it’s easy to see just how sought after those 26.2 miles can be.
The build-up campaign to the event saw the #spiritoflondon come to life. Based on the heart-warming stories that surround the London Marathon each year from the inaugural event where Dick Beardsley and Inge Simonsen shared the winning title after crossing the line hand in hand, to last year’s headline story when Matthew Rees stopped to help a struggling David Wyeth cross the finish line. The communications campaign was a showcase of all that is great about London and the marathon. A marketing strategy truly built on highlighting brilliance instead of brand gain was refreshing to see and one that I’m sure has many eyeing up the ballot again this year.
Find the campaign video here.
The Bad: Were You Fooled?
April 1st always draws out people’s and brand’s playful sides with April Fool’s Day, and this year was no exception in the PR world. Many tried to catch the nation’s attention with thinly vailed attempts at headlines, but none seemed to achieve much traction. This may have been as the day fell on a Sunday this year, with many comms professionals not around to launch stories live from the press office, and journalists out of office, not looking for a quick story for their social channels.
Coca-Cola fell flat with the millennial-jesting Coke Charcoal, Avocado and Sourdough flavour drinks with the hashtag #CocaColaBrunchGoals. With the current stream of negativity towards Millennials, it seems like a bold choice of target audience for this tongue in cheek activation.
Meanwhile, another drinks brand, Kopparberg, ‘launched’ its very own Shower Cider, with the line ‘Regularly find yourself in the shower, dreaming of cider? Us too.’ Poking fun at the cult hit Scandinavian company Pangpang, who sold out their first batch of kickstarter-esque idea Shower Beers. A seemingly comic aim just didn’t make it off the ground. Little to no press pick up and very little social media engagement makes you think whether the time spent brain storming, creating the graphics and the launch was really worth their time and resources.
The Ugly: 'Last thought of the day: Syria'
It’s not often someone in public relations makes the headline themselves – you should never be more famous than your client, right? And sadly, it’s even less likely to be a positive story. This month’s PR blunder goes to Dean Gallagher, a PR associate director from the Manchester branch of Weber Shandwick.
Branded the Alan Partridge of Public Relations, Gallagher’s ‘A Week in My Life’ diary interview for Prolific North, a news and events hub for the media, marketing and creative sector in the North, has caused a fair few laughs over the last week including write ups on the Mail Online and The Sun. His first-hand account of the working week is an interesting one (!); seemingly a stream of consciousness with unwavering positivity and colloquialisms. “Four hours on the pendolino would be hell for some. For me, it’s solitude. Time and space to keep pace, and to consider what’s beyond the here and now.”
While it calls in to question how he manages to keep a straight face while writing the piece, it’s refreshing to see a light-hearted media story in an increasingly negative news cycle. But it begs the question, did he not get anyone to proof this / sense check the tone… another golden rule of PR surely, no matter how high on the ladder you sit!
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