independent

Thursday 18 September 2014

PR on cruise control

Published 26/11/2013 | 05:42

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Smile boys, it’s a Beautiful Day.

I don't envy PR people. Trying to get a message across in a world of instant and incessant media must be a nightmare. So they surely thank heavens then for a weapon in the public relations armoury that works nearly every time.

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Somewhere in every PR agency is a wall with a plaque that reads: 'If inspiration fails, run a poll'.

It may not be very inventive but with a few phone calls by researchers, one press release and the copycat culture of the internet, there are few better ways of getting the word out for little outlay.

When the PR people working for Royal Caribbean International held their first meeting to decide on a publicity campaign for new ship, 'Anthem of the Seas', somebody at the back of the room only heard the word 'anthem' and immediately stuck a hand up. 'Let's run a poll', he said, and they all took a half day off patting themselves on the back for a job well done.

It's a pity that they didn't do a little overtime instead because the resulting poll is far from enlightening.

Stuart Maconie, the BBC Radio 6 presenter and author, was roped in and asked to come up with five anthems the nation could vote on. Those polled were asked to pick the song that made them happiest, and 36 per cent of them plumped for U2's 'Beautiful Day'. The Beatles' 'Hey Jude' attracted 28 per cent of the vote, with Hubert Parry's 'Jerusalem' third on 22 per cent.

The Royal Caribbean people would have us believe that this means 'Beautiful Day' is the most popular anthem ever written, but because Stuart picked the shortlist that's probably not the case.

For some reason best known to themselves, the company asked broadcaster Lauren Laverne to comment on the results.

'I think an anthem should be uplifting, as well as something we can sing along to,' she said, not telling us anything we don't already know.

'I'm delighted the research showed that women love music even more than the men banishing the myth that when it comes to rock n roll, boys know best,' said Ms Laverne who must have been running out of things to say at that point.

The poll results are mind numbingly predictable. Nine out of ten people say songs have the power to evoke happy memories while 93 per cent regard their favourite song as inspiring. 74 per cent say music is important to them and 31 per cent say music enhanced memories as - according to the press blurb - 'over a third re-live their favourite holiday memories on cue to a particular track'. Technically, this isn't true, as 31 per cent is not 'over a third', but do we really care?

People were also asked what qualifies a piece of music to become anthemic in status. 44 per cent looked for a tune to rouse their spirits, and 23 per cent were after a song that brings people together.

'Just seven per cent of people looked for a tune that they could sing along to, reinforcing that a strong anthem is more than just a catchy song,' said the people from the PR agency, but I doubt many got that far in the press release before falling asleep.

Let's hope the cruise ship is more exciting.

Wexford People

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