The art of storytelling – Gazza + Sindy

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen,” said bestselling author JK Rowling who then went on to say: “The stories we love best do live in us forever.”

This was said, of course, in the context of Harry Potter and Hogwarts. But it does make you think, as a PR, of the stories you’ve been involved in that you remember most.

I remember, a good few years ago now, a photocall at The Toy Fair in London. We were launching ‘Gazza – The Game’ – a board game created for England striker, Paul Gascoigne – remember him? At the same event we were also relaunching Sindy – the classic, ageless doll that could be dressed in numerous different glamorous outfits. Both ‘toys’ were made by the same company, Hasbro.

G6HDMD Soccer – Paul Gascoigne – Toy and Hobby Fair – Earl’s Court, London

Hasbro had a real-life model, Kate Burt, employed to be Sindy who also appeared in TV ads. Gazza, of course, came as himself. At the launch the pair emerged together onto the stage, arm in arm, and then Gazza gave Sindy a big kiss on the cheek.

To be honest I remember it less for the two stars and more for the blinding flash of photographers’ cameras, the like of which I’d never witnessed before. The picture made the front page of most tabloids the following day. Job done.

The star of the show was Gazza. Still in his prime he could dazzle at will and was revered as a top footballer with a boy-next-door personality. He had a vulnerable streak too which added to his appeal. He was perhaps most famous for crying when sent off in World Cup match. The event was though, for me, an early a lesson in PR storytelling – a comic book romance between a fictitious, much loved beauty, and Roy of the Rovers.

Stories aside, I remember great headings too. For drain clearance company, Dyno Rod – our press release was headed “Take a Drain Check”. It captured the imagination and generated literally hundreds of cuttings. At that particular time I shared an office with a former Daily Mirror journalist and boy could she churn the headlines out. It’s all in the training!

It’s immensely satisfying when forces converge to create a good story but it’s rarely down to luck. Success is generally down to clear and concise copywriting for a very specific target audience. Proper placement too – we didn’t invite the FT to the Gazza photocall! Finding a good news angle (Gazza’s dating Sindy!) is key. And keeping it short, sharp and to the point.

The rules are the same what or whoever you’re writing for. As much for a new toy as a tin can, a zero emission zone, or a lithium car battery, all of which I have covered over the past few days.

The skill is to tell a compelling story. JK Rowling knows a thing or two about that!

If you’d like to find out more about how we can help tell your story, get in touch –

January: Top 4 Coverage Roundup  

Sometimes January felt like the longest of months especially whilst we’re all in a state of winter hibernation, but for Twelve PR it was peppered with four of our favourite coverage pieces.  

Here is our January roundup 

Hydraulics & Pneumatics – Zero tolerance towards hose re-ending  

Last Autumn we worked with the British Fluid Power Association on the launch of their important ‘Choose Q for Quality’ campaign which highlighted the BFPA Approved Hose Assemblies Scheme and the associated Q ‘Quality’ Logo. The scheme sets best practice guidelines for hose manufacturing, distribution and fitting. Members who sell and fit hoses in the scheme must meet strict criteria to carry the Q Mark, a sign of guaranteed quality, and to never practice hose reending which can be incredibly dangerous.  

Read the whole piece here:  Zero tolerance towards hose re-ending 

Campaign sign for BFPA which says it only takes 100 psi to puncture the skin

The Metal Pack Podcast – Episode 1 Robert Fell  

The new Metal Pack Podcast launched this January by host Alex Fordham, editor of The Metal Packager. The inaugural episode featured Robert Fell, chief executive and director of the Metal Packaging Manufacturers Association and the pair discussed the Covid-19 pandemic on the can making industry, and other pertinent topics including food waste, carbon footprint and growing the metal packaging industry. 

Listen to the podcast here: Podcast Episode 1: Robert Fell  

Front cover for the metal pack podcast

The Canmaker – Dutch Michelin-starred chef launches gourmet meals in cans  

Tata Steel’s Packaging division recently released a new case study featuring Dutch Michelin-starred chef, Joris Bijdendijk, who has launched a new canned food brand called SNERT.  Joris runs the award-winning kitchen at RIJKS restaurant and is a true champion of food from the low countries.  The brand is inspired by the classic Dutch winter favourite – snert, a pea soup.  Tata Steel and Trivium Packaging have also helped Joris promote the sustainability of metal packaging to a new audience  

Business development manager at Tata Steel Marnix Böggemann added: “It’s great to work with these guys, to feel their energy and share their passion for delicious food in cans. This initiative raises the profile of canned food and I hope rightfully confirms its place at eye-level on the supermarket shelves.” 

Read the full story hereDutch Michelin-starred chef launches gourmet meals in cans  

A photo of a pink tin showing new brand Snert in rainbow letters

 Mushroom, Lentil and Spinach Wellington – People’s Friend  

And continuing on a canned food theme, one of our favourite vegan recipes created by Masterchef finalists, Billy Wright and Jack Layer, appeared in People’s Friend. This mushroom, lentil and spinach wellington from Canned Food UK makes a great Sunday roast alternative and can be made with leftovers and store cupboard staples.  

Find the recipe here: Mushroom, Lentil and Spinach Wellington  

Is Madonna a thought leader?

Twelve celebrates 25 years of being in business in 2021.  To mark the occasion, we’ve produced a desk calendar with a quote each month that touches on a different aspect of communication.  

January’s topic is ‘Thought Leadership’ and the accompanying quote is from Madonna: “Listen, everyone is entitled to my opinion.”  She also famously said “Now that I’ve got everyone’s attention, what do I want to say?”

Madonna pop singer

I’d like to explore the subject of thought leadership by asking three questions:

  1. Why is thought leadership such an enduring concept in public relations?
  2. Is Madonna a thought leader?
  3. What are the key steps to an effective thought leadership strategy?

First question, ‘Why is thought leadership such an enduring concept in public relations?’

Answer, because it is a very effective way to achieve earned media coverage, coverage which helps open doors to new business or clinch deals. Earned coverage plays a crucial role in building trust and supporting SEO, both of which, again, help win or retain business.

You can read about the role of earned coverage in supporting domain authority in our blog post ‘Digital or PR agency? . It describes the ‘human tests’ used by Google to check the reliability of its algorithms, and you can see a good example of effective earned coverage for our client Altelium in The Guardian.

Second question, ‘Is Madonna a thought leader?’

Most people in PR would probably describe her as an ‘influencer’ rather than a thought leader, and this distinction is useful in understanding what makes a thought leader.

Often it depends on context, for example Madonna would certainly be considered a thought leader on how to develop a brand image or sell music, but this tends not to be the subjects she offers her opinions on.

Thought leadership is used to shape business campaigns. Influencers tend to be used for consumer campaigns, but actually where do you draw the line? Who or what influences your shopping habits and behaviour patterns?  Is Donald Trump a thought leader? How about Greta Thunberg?

A thought leader is anyone who has experience, ideas or success that people want to hear about and whose opinions and expertise might interest or influence others.

This is why a good thought leadership campaign is an artform because it is a question of understanding your audience and their needs and interests, as much as it is understanding products, business solutions or science.

Third question, ‘What are the key steps to an effective thought leadership campaign?

Working with an agency, the key stages in developing an effective thought leadership strategy include:

  • Identifying areas of expertise and opinion
  • Compiling a timeline of industry events and high impact occasions
  • Reviewing media channels and audience
  • Developing your tone of voice and approach
  • Preparing well written, insightful material

None of these steps however will be effective if your communication isn’t timely, and this is very much a two-way process. An effective thought leadership campaign requires a close and responsive relationship between the client and agency.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to be have views and opinions which people will be interested in,  but you may need help to get your opinions or expertise noticed in our noisy world.

At Twelve we have twenty-five years of experience to offer, so if you’re looking for help promoting yourself, your business or your brand, please get in touch.