So, one of us was having a bit of a desk tidy the other day (de-crumbing the keyboard, giving the desktop a spot of Mr Muscle etc) when I stumbled upon this thing of beauty, carelessly filed away among a pile of yellowing newspaper cuttings and an old advertorial booklet selling some demonic looking porcelain dolls, compression socks and 3-pack polyester trousers (hmmmm, I wonder whether they need PR).
Anyway THIS is one of the first ever pieces of coverage I secured as a junior publicist 9 years ago for a (now very little known) dating website – which, let’s say, you probably wouldn’t want to visit these days unless you really felt you had run out of options …
Product aside though, this is what possibly many PR industry bods would describe as a ‘PRgasm’.
Sprawled on one page of technicolour print on Britain’s biggest selling national newspaper, The Sun, resplendent with company logo, URL link plus insightful on-message quote from company spokesperson (the dating website’s ‘relationship expert’), this piece of coverage is worth a whopping £55.5K in advertising terms today.
Pure tabloid fodder, we commissioned a survey looking into people’s cheating hearts and discovered that people of Britain (OK, sample size: 1K) really couldn’t resist hogging their metaphorical cakes AND eating it. Quite naughty I suppose. And tabloids, of course, like naughty. The campaign cost all of £0 to implement, thanks to the dating website’s lively and opinionated userbase who loved doing the multiple choice questionnaires, and thanks to a wonderful media relationship I had with the then features editor (we had some great phone conversations brainstorming questions that would elicit the cheekiest, funniest and most enlightening answers – getting people to dish the dirt and ‘fess up, but in a truly anonymous way obviously).
Following publication of this piece, the website (according to the developer’s data) received 35% more web traffic that day (pretty good considering this was not an online piece with a click-through link – readers had actively seen the URL and sought out more information about the company when they were at their computers) and an additional 10% subscriptions of the free service.
Looking back though with a sober and analytical eye at what this piece of publicity would’ve contributed to the dating website’s general image, any discerning person looking for a bonafide Mr or Miss Right, a wedding, or a long-term romantic partnership would probably poo-poo this service (despite the great name-check) because anyone would think that it was harbouring a commune of love rats; dare I say it – it had become a waiting pool for potential Jeremy Kyle candidates (and we all know the show’s ‘stars’ somehow seem to be having a hell of A LOT of sex. How do they fit it in? Don’t they work?!).
Still. I had always, always, secretly hoped that, from this particular line of work, someone somewhere out there would have found true and resounding lasting love as a result of spotting my piece of coverage in a national newspaper, hopped onto the website, trawled and spotted a rare and precious gem of a person, met them, fell in love with them and then … well, I have a bit of an Auntie Cilla moment and will buy a hat for the website’s first ever wedding. As is stands, I will never ever know.
But, hell, I’m a true romantic so maybe it did happen, but the happy couple are publicity shy. Or maybe they don’t want to advertise the fact that they found each other on a dating website. At best, I can only fantasise what a joyous occasion it would be to put ‘1 marriage’ down as a result of PR exposure I secured on an evaluation document. What joy. Imagine the ROI on that? Immeasurable and priceless. After all, you can’t put a price on love.