News and blog posts, Uncategorized

Why a half marathon in the wrong place is the right story (and other great tales)

Anyone who has worked in PR for any length of time will know exactly what I mean when I say that every now and again, a story emerges that I am certain is going to ‘fly’. Day in, day out, I develop content for clients and I think that pretty much all of it has some editorial worth. In fact, it must have, or I’m not doing my job properly (either in advising and representing clients or in providing decent material to journalists). However, there are some stories or moments that I am involved in that simply stand out, for one reason or another, and which I know from the second that they cross my radar, will generate a lot of interest.

Looking back over the last decade, a few of these immediately spring to mind.

2009. Ashley and Cheryl Cole.

Daily Mirror 07.03.2009 Cheryl

Ashley Cole is snapped emerging from a nightclub while arm in arm with a young lady who is not his wife. Meanwhile, Cheryl (said wife, at the time) is one of a group of celebs trekking up Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief. Among the images sent back to the UK the morning after the nightclub incident by the only photographer on the mountain, is one of Cheryl giving a thumbs up to the cameras. As soon as I saw the pic, I said that the tabloids would lead with it the following day, and they did! In the photo, Cheryl happened to be wearing a Berghaus hat and gloves – ideal for the mountain and with logos very handily positioned in the images that went around the world. I should note that no-one (that I know of) paid the other young lady to latch herself onto Ashley Cole.

2009 onwards. Leo Houlding’s adventures.

14 - credit Waldo Etherington, Berghaus

Leo has led a succession of incredible expeditions during the last decade and without fail, he and his team have delivered some amazing material that always generates great coverage, in both specialist and mainstream media.

Leo Houlding and a solar corona in the Antarctic - photo credit Berghaus

2011. Marathon runner gets a bus to the finish.

The third-place finisher in the Kielder Marathon turned out to have taken the bus for the last six miles. If you don’t know about this story, use a popular internet search engine and dive in (for a start try this). It was a classic (and did nothing to harm the Kielder Marathon!).

2012 onwards. The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race.

Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race 2019 - Day 1 - Crib Goch - Second Male - Konrad Rowlick 369 - Copyright No Limits Photography

Five days, 315k, 15,500m of ascent, dramatic mountainous landscapes, ultra-tough runners, great stories of triumph and despair, and phenomenal images galore. Lovely!

6 At least one runner still found time to enjoy himself on day three of the Berghaus Dragon's Back Race - photo

2014. The old man on the Old Man.

Sir Chris Bonington prepares to climb the Old Man of Hoy in 2014 (photo credit - Berghaus)

Sir Chris Bonington, having just turned 80 and not long after the loss of his wife Wendy, re-climbs the Old Man of Hoy with Leo Houlding, 48 years after his first ascent of the iconic sea stack. This was a lovely, emotional story, that resonated far beyond the climbing community, fuelled by great images and footage and the amazing feat and person at the heart of it.

Sir Chris Bonington and Leo Houlding on the summit of the Old Man of Hoy (photo credit - Berghaus)

2019. Mick Fowler heads back to the Himalaya after an unwelcome break.

Mick Fowler on Shiva

Mick Fowler is aiming to be the first colostomy bag user to make a first ascent of a high-altitude Himalayan peak. Mick’s a brilliant climber, with a long and distinguished career, packed with first ascents of some really remote and challenging routes. For decades he’s been known as the ‘Climbing Taxman’, but a cancer diagnosis and treatment provided an unwelcome interruption (as Mick modestly put it) to his plans. Henceforth, media coverage about Mick is likely to focus on the nugget that he’s not letting the fact that he now has to use a colostomy bag to deter him from tackling yet more tough mountaineering objectives. He’s about to set off on his next major expedition, so watch this space.

Mick Fowler h&s sm

All of the above stories, and others, have generated media coverage far and wide, and while managing the flow of information has involved a fair bit of work, these particular tales have also developed organically, taking on a wonderful life of their own, so I am able to simply usher/nudge them along. Which brings me nicely on to the latest example…

This week. Happy ending for runner who entered half marathon on the wrong continent.

Sheila Pereira and her route in Worcester, Massachusetts

It’s impossible to not smile at this great story. Last Sunday saw the annual hosting of the Air Products Worcester City Runs, including the Worcester City Half Marathon. It’s a cracking occasion and everything went smoothly, with some lovely coverage from the likes of BBC Hereford & Worcester and Worcester News. After working on site, I returned to the North East and dealt with a few post-event loose ends on Sunday evening, and considered that a ‘wrap’.

Then an email arrived from the team at Events of the North, outlining how Sheila Pereira had entered the event thinking that it was local to her. She lives in Worcester, Massachusetts, over 3,000 miles away from Worcester, England. Sheila realised her error, but ran a half marathon on Sunday anyway and sent Events of the North the proof.

Sheila Pereira's half marathon distance route in Worcester, Massachusetts

Like all of the other examples above, as soon as I heard this, I knew we had a story that the media would love, and so it has proved, gradually snowballing each day. Local media in Worcester, England, were first to cover it, followed quickly by the regional BBC, and local radio stations throughout the UK, and BBC Radio 1, Radio 5 Live and Radio 6 Music, and the Telegraph, and Runner’s World, and even news media in Finland and Estonia. The story was the subject for Steve Lamacq’s popular National Anthems feature on 6 Music and he inevitably chose Sheila Take a Bow by The Smiths as the track best suited as a tribute to the tale.

And now, a few days after the media barrage began in Worcester, England, the story is being noticed in Sheila’s home state and none other than the Boston Globe has now run a report. Beautiful circularity and a really enjoyable feel good tale.


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