I've been overwhelmed by the response to my last blog, looking at some of the client-related highlights of my first 25 years in this business, so I've been prompted to add some more...
Most Fulfilling Work
I have tremendous admiration for all the emergency services and for the people who work within them. When the opportunity came to help the comms team at a regional ambulance service, we jumped at the chance.
Here was an organisation that saved lives and went to the aid of people in trouble 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but whose ability to operate effectively depended on the funding it received from other health bodies who always had other priorities.
Of course, saving lives day in day out isn’t necessarily a news story when that’s what you’re expected to do, but when something goes wrong? That’s a different story. Negative press was having an impact on everyone in the organisation – even when they knew they were doing their best with the staff, equipment and systems available.
Our role was to help boost team morale by generating good news stories and to minimise the amount of potentially adverse publicity by making sure any editor looking to publish something negative could at least make a decision based on having all the facts at their disposal.
We did a great job. We increased the amount of positive exposure, reduced the negative and made sure that any issues were at least reported in a fair and balanced way. I’ll always be very proud of our involvement.
In 2002, we issued two April Fools stories for a mobile phone client.
One concerned a couple who had bought a mobile phone for their pet parrot, so they could call it from work and prevent it getting lonely during the day. The other featured a mini airbag, which could be attached to a mobile phone and which deployed around it if the accompanying sensor detected the handset had been dropped.
Both stories attracted a lot of enquiries from the national press and regional media for additional photography, interviews and so on. We were confident that Monday 1st April 2002 would be a memorable day, and so it was – but not for the right reasons.
That’s because on Saturday 30th March 2002, Buckingham Palace announced the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The weekday media caught up with the news on the Monday and made up for the delay by dedicating oceans of space and airtime to Her Majesty’s lifetime. As a result – and undoubtedly alongside a host of other wizard wheezes for April Fools’ Day – our parrot was caged and our airbag deflated.
Simplest, Most Effective Idea
A network of mobile phone retailers was upset by the decision of supermarkets to sell mobile phones and wished to make the point that ascertaining each customer’s specific communication requirements, identifying the best solution and ensuring that the solution was delivered correctly was slightly different to flogging somebody a tin of beans.
So, we got the mobile phone specialists to sell beans for a short while at a cheaper price than the supermarkets. The idea captured the media’s imagination and coverage was amazing. So much so, that we revisited the idea eight months later in the build up to Christmas, substituting sprouts for beans and achieving similar results (as you would if you switched sprouts for beans – but that’s a blog that will probably never be written).