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PR – Way to Go!

We are in the midst of an Olympian drama; a media frenzy of updates, revelations, accusations, heartbreak and soaring emotions. Ironically like the other millions of viewers I’ve become a couch potato watching the outstanding display of athleticism unfold on the TV in front of me.

But here’s the thing. Despite the gold medals and the accompanying drama, I realise the best entertainment surrounding the 2012 summer Olympics is the fabulous Twenty Twelve BBC mockumentary charting the build up to the games through the eyes of the fictional deliverance team.

Yes, you’ve got it. If you had been watching, you will have spotted the obvious reference to Siobhan Sharpe, identified as TV’s most ridiculous PR character. Siobhan’s PR company Perfect Curve won the Olympic account and joins the Twenty Twelve team in their blundering journey through the organisation of the games.

Full of nonsensical statements and ridiculous proclamations, Siobhan adds her own special kind of mayhem and magic to the programme. With lines like, “Right, so here’s what we do, here’s the thing, here’s what we do with this.” Siobhan wings her way through disaster after disaster.

When the Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher is shot in the foot by a starting pistol, Siobhan conducts a BBC news interview describing the injury as a “totally routine accident.” She continues with ‘the fact that he was prepared to have that accident shows you just how far guys like him are prepared to go to, like, test security measures ahead of the games.”

To commemorate ‘Inclusivity Day’ the team eventually agrees to plant an acorn. At the ceremony Siobhan arranges a group of school children who are wearing T-shirts that should spell Inclusivity but are incorrectly ordered. It quickly becomes apparent that no one has organised the acorn and Siobhan resorts to digging in her handbag to withdraw a chocolate brazil nut which is passed to a confused Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson and Carey Taylor to plant.

Her efforts with the creative team revealed gem moments of comedy in their branding efforts to link the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with the Olympics – Jubilympics became the catch phrase along with their efforts to rebrand the Travel Pack in such a way that ‘no-one will ever have to read it.’ The result is the ingenious tag line ‘Way to Go’ that carries through to the end of the programme and continues to furnish the Twitter world.

Priceless entertainment. However, much to the chagrin of many PR professionals, Siobhan is completely unprofessional and clearly clueless – she paints a very dismal view of PR to the outside world. But this is not the first time. Hugh Grant in the film Bridget Jones refers to Bridget’s role in the PR department as fannying around with bits of paper and organising parties; while Eddie and Patsy drink their way through the PR world in Ab Fab. Like many others in the PR industry, I’m often faced with the question, what is it that you do again? Admittedly from older family members.

But before us PR bods get our knickers and boxer shorts in a complete twist let’s not forget the show was a fantastic marketing ploy to generate interest in the games. And it worked, pure entertainment. It reflects David Brent’s The Office in a marketing world with all those competitive inner office relationships. So instead of getting all huffy, pat your colleagues in the marketing industry on the back and remember an important trait is the ability to laugh at yourself. Siobhan is a shoddy representation of the true power of PR in reputation and brand management but when it comes to entertainment who wants to watch a polished perfect professional – where’s the fun in that?

Let’s face it, if we’re honest the one worthy characteristic that Siobhan displays is her sheer audacity and confidence in the face of anything and anyone. Equipped with those elements you can’t go far wrong……can you?

Blog post opinion of Vicky Hickman

Katie Sanders: Katie took a sales background into marketing, and holds chartered marketer status with the Chartered Institute of Marketing. A devotee of PR she heads up our publicity team.