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The ginger pride march in Edinburgh wins PR idea of the week

13th August 2013


This week has seen a host of cracking PR, so there’s something of a bounty to choose from when it comes to this week’s idea. But the one piece that stood hair and shoulders above the rest was this …

As ever, for those too time-poor to watch the film, the shtick is that a march has taken place north of the border in favour of the rights of a much repressed group: the gingers: Ginger Pride, no less.

Curiously, this “parade” coincided with the opening of a one-man show at Edinburgh entitled “Ginger Nation” – led by the one-man himself, Shawn Hitchens.

Now apart from the fact that this is, for various reasons, all follicle-related, a topic close to my heart, this stunt tickled me enormously.

But it also made me wonder why, in a world where the whole thing sounds on paper so utterly ridiculous, it has done so marvellously well in the media.

In part of course, because it was set up and run by a team at Borkowski.do, who are well-versed in arts and entertainment PR. There is a certain commitment to the old-school art of publicity that runs through them – relationships, the black book, the well-turned picture, the stunningly-set stunt.

But that doesn’t answer it all. Not even the best team of publicists can bag a crop of national print and broadcast coverage with something that doesn’t stack-up in news terms.

Which leads me to the week’s observation: that the best PR stunts are utterly implausible on paper, but have at their heart a splendid insight that brings them back into the world of the just-possible.

It is that insight that gives them the air of plausibility that even the most outlandish stunt requires: the nagging sense in the journalist’s mind that, despite all appearances, it’s just vaguely possible that this could really have happened for reasons other than publicity.

Striking that balance separates a great stunt from one that is just Okay and from the ones that fail: a coincidence of artful publicity skills, a genuine insight into behaviour (in this case that gingers are the butt of a great deal of humour) and a brilliant creative expression of the said insight.

At that point, what those in the theatre call the “willing suspension of disbelief” – or consciously allowing oneself to believe that something that is obviously not true or real just could be for the purpose of entertainment – can carry a story.

Bring the science of insight together with the art of a creative stunt and you have the recipe for success – whether on the stages of Edinburgh or the limelight of the nation’s media.

James Gordon-MacIntosh is founder and Managing Partner at Hope&Glory PR. He is also author of Ideas of the Year 2012: an incomplete compendium of the best ideas in PR during the year. You can buy a copy simply by emailing him.



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