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London Zoo invites the world’s media to count their animals

8th January 2013

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have spotted this little gem – you likely should have done, it made more-or-less every national paper – as London Zoo opened its doors to the world’s media and invited them to join the team as they counted animals.

For those who missed it, here’s the ITN reporting of the event in all its glory …

There isn’t a great deal to say about this stunt-ette, other than it’s a brilliant way of getting the media through the doors to do something at a specific time on a specific day that they could do, truth be told, at any other time of the year.

It’s one of those lovely, simple ideas that just makes you sit back, stroke your chin and nod with approval.

But it should also, once done, make us all contemplate what our own brands could do to exploit our assets by simply branding up some form of “event” that makes the every-day relevant and interesting.

Now I am not living in a PR dreamland here, we don’t all have cute and creepy and/or cuddly and, in some cases, rare animals to work with. But there are always cracking reasons for the media to be talking about our brands if these PR-able moments can be conjured up.

Nor would I deny that timing the animal census to one of the quietest news weeks of the year helped its cause considerably – although that is part of the genius behind this particular piece of work.

Recent weeks have seen stories for everyone, from eBay (the great unwanted Christmas gift sell-off) to dating sites (the prime time to find a partner) to the big retailers (with the sales season in full swing). Even karaoke bars got in on the act (with Lucky Voice’s “Gangnam Style beats Auld Lang Syne” story cleaning up).

The simple truth is that, within most of the businesses we call clients, there are simple but effective stories waiting to happen.

While we may devote a considerable proportion of our time to working out how to get coverage by embellishing our clients’ brand reputations with stunts, research-driven nonsense and other such “activity”, a similar amount of time invested in working out how to make what they do every day new and notable would likely reap as great (if not greater) reward.

James Gordon-MacIntosh is a managing partner at Hope&Glory PR. He’s now working on a book – Ideas of the Year: an incomplete compendium of stunts, stories and japes. He’s looking for submissions, so if you’ve got work that should be included head here.

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