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Using humor in PR

by Colette Lowe on July 5, 2016
Business

I read the funniest e-shot I have ever read last week, I declared it a great piece of PR.

Why?

Because it’s a great story, it connects with people, it has personality, it’s human, it isn’t selling something, and it’s memorable.

Here it is in its entirety:

David Parkin, Director of events and travel business COPA, on getting run over…by a golf buggy

Getting run over by a golf buggy wasn’t my finest sporting hour.

It isn’t a story I’m eager to tell either.

But memories of that infamous occasion came flooding back this week with the news of the death of great Fleet Street sports writer and editor Peter Corrigan from cancer at the age of 80.

You see it was Peter who was at the wheel of the golf buggy that landed on top of me. Given that such vehicles travel at a top speed of 5mph you must be wondering how I found myself under its wheels.

I still am too.

Cardiff-born Peter’s career saw him go from tea boy at the South Wales Echo to sports editor of The Observe presiding over a team of stellar talents including the nonpareil Hugh Mclivanney.

In between those two roles he worked at almost every newspaper in Fleet Street and helped write the autobiographies of England’s 1966 World Cup winner Martin Peters and rugby great Jonathan Davies.

One of his biggest scoops came in 1962 when he was on holiday in Italy with his wife and bumped into Wales, Leeds United and Juventus legend John Charles on a beach.

When Peter enquired: “How you doing Charlo?” the footballing giant replied: “I’ll give you an exclusive, I’m going back to Leeds.”

He was later appointed chief sports columnist for the Independent on Sunday and wrote The Hacker column about his golfing exploits.

That was what he was doing when I met him a few years ago when I was business editor of the Yorkshire Post and offered a tempting “freebie” trip to play several top golf courses on the Algarve in Portugal.

I joined a handful of journalists as guests of a luxury golf tours firm.

We stayed in separate apartments at the top end Pine Cliffs golf resort and on the first morning were booked to play the well known Quinta do Lago course.

The course was pretty busy so we started on the 10th hole and had all got into our stride by the time we were getting to the halfway stage on the first tee.

I smacked my tee shot into some bushes at the top of a bank on the side of the fairway and set off to find the ball.

Peter Corrigan, who I was sharing a buggy with, followed me up the bank as I whacked my ball out of the bushes and back onto the fairway.

But it didn’t travel very far and I walked down the slope to hit the ball again.

What I didn’t realise was that Peter had driven the buggy down the bank behind me and instead of putting his foot on the brake, pressed down on the accelerator.

I heard a shout of: “Get out of the way!” turned my head but before I had a chance to leap clear the buggy had hit me and I was aware of rolling underneath its wheels as it continued down the hill for several metres before coming to a stop.

During those brief seconds under the buggy I remember all I could think was: “I’m going to die.”

When the buggy finally came to a stop I was spread-eagled lying on my chest underneath it.

The first thing I thought was: “I’m alive!”

All I could hear Peter Corrigan shouting to passing golfers was: “He’s dead. He’s f***ing dead!”

The two other people playing with us ran across the course and it took them and Peter’s efforts to lift the buggy up so I could crawl out.

One of them later told me that all he could see when he ran over to help was a golf buggy with a white golf shoe sticking out from underneath it.

He said it reminded him of that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy’s house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East and all you can see is her scarlet slipper poking out from under the wooden house.

Having emerged from under the buggy, the adrenalin of knowing I was still alive enabled me to stand up for a few seconds before collapsing on the fairway.

The leather belt on my golf trousers had nearly been sliced in half, my thick polo shirt was torn open at the back and there were holes in the knees of my trousers.

I still have the shirt at home. I should frame it like other sportsmen frame their international shirts.

A member of staff arrived in a buggy to take me to the golf resort’s medical centre.

I later commented that not one person sitting on the terrace of the clubhouse who had witnessed the accident had come over to help

“No, but they did give you a standing ovation when you were driven past them in the buggy on the way to the medical centre,” pointed out Peter helpfully.

At the medical centre I was checked over by a German medic called Dr Kaiser (with a story this ridiculous you don’t need to make a name up like that).

He told me I was exceedingly lucky as there didn’t look to be any internal injuries or broken bones but he said I had a couple of black eyes and cuts and bruises to my back.

“But my chest is really burning,” I complained.

“It will be, you’ve got a tyre mark right across it,” explained Dr Kaiser.

At that point Peter Corrigan burst into the examination room.

I said it was kind of him to come back to check if I was OK.

“I had to, that accident really affected my concentration and ruined my round,” he replied.

All the best Peter, thanks for the (painful) memories.

 

So what is it that we can learn from this and why is it such a good piece of PR?

The topic may be golf but you don’t have to be a club member, or have in-depth knowledge of the game to appreciate that this story is gripping, informative, funny, and packed full of human interest.

Be honest with yourself, how many e-shots do you receive in a week? How many do you remember?

Most e-shots I receive go straight to spam whereby I delete on mass, but this one I read.

I read it because the title pricked my curiosity, ‘…getting run over by a golf buggy’, you don’t hear that every day!

After the first paragraph you are absolutely hooked by the authors submission to share what must have been an embarrassing, not to mention worrying, experience.

Once gripped you taken through paragraphs of humorous detailing that serve to enhance the story before ending on serious note, the authors nod to a deceased colleague.

So before you approach your keyboard, just think, how can my story connect, engage, entertain, and be memorable.

Sounds hard? Start with giving a bit more of yourself like this author did, after all PR is about positive relationships so start creating them.

Colette Lowe
Founder and owner of Chew PR, Colette has worked in PR for over 15 years. She has seen both sides and worked for consultancy and in-house teams providing her with an insight not many see. Colette will be contributing to the Public Relations section. Wakefield. England.
 
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