PR stunt calls panto ugly sisters Eugenie and Beatrice

It was a pretty quiet Christmas break for PR-land, at least based on my perusal of the papers through the Yuletide season. However, there was one little gem that I thought was worthy of a huge hat-tip in the increasingly eclectic column that is “Antics Roadshow”.

As anyone who loves their media (and their stunts in particular) will tell you, the regional media is an oft-overlooked outlet for some of the best PR stunts and japes going.

Some of the best purveyors of these stories are the media relations pedlars at regional theatre companies. Often starved of cash and scrapping for an audience, some companies have become masters of the stunt – just ask one Mr. Mark Borkowski, who infamously got his PR break in regional theatre.

The latest company to hit the headlines is that of the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. They got into hot water media-wise for their production of Cinderella, in which the ugly sisters have been named Beatrice and Eugenie: as you might spot in this trailer for the spectacle...

Cue coverage across the royal-friendly nationals, with the Daily Mail leading the way with a fulminating piece that takes issue with the whole affair, finding someone to brand the use of the names in question as “cruel” to the royal pair.

The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Express also weighed-in, giving the production yet more air-time and, while giving the producers a bit of a headache as they defend themselves, no doubt filling a few more otherwise empty seats.

There’s a lesson in there for us all: this stunt has cost not a penny. It is simply a great example of a really simple idea that has turned a spot of pop culture and Ferguson-baiting to its advantage. Smart work indeed.

James Gordon-MacIntosh is a managing partner at Hope&Glory PR and from time-to-time pens Spinning Around, a blog that he describes as “thinking out loud”

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