GoPro teaches us a lesson about content

Sometimes you stumble across something so awe-inspiringly odd that you just have to smile.

So it was when I came across a Belgian school that has (apparently) used a GoPro-equipped drone to ensure that its pupils aren’t cheating in their exams.

Now I’ve written before about GoPro and the fact they don't need to much of their own PR because there is a community of users around the world doing weird shit with their technology.

However, this one took the biscuit …

Unlike many of the other things featuring GoPro I’ve seen, this one felt more stunt to me than genuine piece of UGC. And – assuming as I am that is the case – it made the whole thing all the more impressive. Getting a school – of all institutions – to take part in a stunt in a supposed exam is a pretty impressive feat, after all.

But it reminded me of an old maxim, that unless something looks almost impossible to achieve, it isn’t likely to really stand out and get people talking.

Too often this sort of idea – “let’s talk a school into letting us in to film an exam and pretend that they are spying on their kids cheating using our flying video – that would be awesome!” – Just stays in the brainstorm room, never making it off the flipchart paper to become a reality.

Too many senior people worrying that it’ll be irresponsible or end up looking contrived or that the brand will be found out. And too many account directors and managers worrying that they will be the people left carrying the can and trying to deliver a campaign the client has bought into but is just too hard to deliver.

However, reading about this story across a heap of the UK papers (bearing in mind that it’s flying around the world’s media as I type this piece about it) was a timely nudge in the ribs.

If we’re going to make 2014 another awesome year, we need to be the people who aren’t letting that sort of idea lie – and instead we’re the folk who don’t just come up with ideas in boardrooms and let them die a slow death, fearful of how hard they are to execute.

If this year is to see more leaps and bounds in PR’s ability to create cracking ideas that really get people talking then we need to be the ones who embrace the almost – but not quite – impossible. We need to be the ones who embrace the “doing” of great creative. And if that’s not a New Year’s resolution, I can’t think of a better one.

James Gordon-MacIntosh is a managing partner at Hope&Glory PR.

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