Out of the frying pan?

How do you take an idea and turn into a piece of editorial that breaks as an exclusive in a national paper and runs in various mediums for another three weeks? Good PR skills. The story behind the Frying Pan is just one in a series. Take a look.

In 1998 I was involved in a plan to revive horse racing at Alexandra Park. The old racecourse, known as the frying pan because of its particular layout – the handle being the straight, the circuit the pan – had closed in the 1970s. It was not sustainable and to some, its tight circuit was dangerous. But in the 1990s horse racing was gaining popularity again thanks to coverage by Channel 4 and changes in betting. Race courses were opening. Why not one in North London 30-minutes from the heart of the capital thought two punters? These two friends contacted me; we briefed a Daily Mail reporter over a few pints (different times), and he loved the romance of the idea.

The exclusive broke in the Daily mail during the international football break – and it went mad. Every London paper from the Standard to the Ham & High picked up on it. My two clients – this was all pro bono – were live on LBC breakfast from the steps of Alexandra Palace itself, BBC South East interviewed them and locals in the two adjacent pubs to the old circuit. I was kept busy for three weeks.

Hugely entertaining as there was no depth to the facts, no funding, just a lovely, romantic idea that caught the imagination of the media. It demonstrates the skill in good media handling. It’s a skill we’re proud of – we help people by taking the kernel of an idea and transform it into a highly visible and entertaining piece of news/PR that catches the imagination of journalists and their readers.

This is the first of a few of the stories behind the projects and interventions that I can share – there’s more that I can’t tell you about, or at least not in print! In 25 years of working in PR and over 30 years in the media as a reporter, editor and freelance writer I have seen and done a few things from covering the refit of Captain Scott’s Discovery to media handling at the London Marathon.

You learn a lot, meet some fascinating people and can play a role in sharing ideas and stories that are effective. I’ve taken a lot from all of the experiences shared here – many of them rely on core skills: listening, defining a key message and knowing the right audience. Then of course there is timing too – something that is tough to get right, but when you do, things really happen.

Like this one. The Frying Pan.