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 – graham@twelvepr.co.uk.

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