PR Industry all at Sea Over Boaty McBoatface

By 2016-05-23 Blog No Comments
boaty mcboatface

The most successful PR campaign of recent times or an embarrassing misfire that’s left scientists with egg on their ‘boatraces’? That’s the question that many in PR circles are debating following the decision to name a research vessel after the UK’s best known naturalist rather than Boaty McBoatface – the suggestion in a popular public vote.

The campaign surrounding the naming of Britain’s Natural Environment Research Councilbreaking news’s new ship generated headlines around the world but the decision to abandon the popular choice was guaranteed to create something of a backlash.

For PR professionals the campaign offers a fascinating topic of debate and more than a few lessons, especially when you ask the public to determine the future name of a £200 million pound ship!

As with any public vote, you need to be prepared for a result that you didn’t anticipate or don’t like. With this in mind, perhaps present them with a list of pre-approved names or answers and whatever the result – you know you can live with it!

It’s also important, when you are asking for suggestions to make it clear from the onset that their suggestions are simply that, suggestions, and the end result may not be necessarily the most popular.

What is unquestionable, however is the way the Boaty McBoatface campaign captured the imagination of the press, public and even the politicians who ultimately allocate funding of the Council from the public purse.

Any public disappointment about their most popular name was more than offset by the interest the campaign generated in the work of the NERC and, honestly, who could really argue with the ship being named after a national institution and probably the best-loved man on TV, Sir David Attenborough.

To top it all, the Boaty McBoatface name is to live on. The public voice is not to be forgotten as the ship’s remotely-operated submersible will carry the name.

All things considered most public relations professionals would consider the exercise a resounding success. No doubt Boaty McBoatface will launch a thousand other naming campaigns but few will like reach the same highs, should that be plumb the same depths!

The most successful PR campaign of recent times or an embarrassing misfire that’s left scientists with egg on their ‘boatraces’? That’s the question that many in PR circles are debating following the decision to name a research vessel after the UK’s best known naturalist rather than Boaty McBoatface – the suggestion in a popular public vote.

The campaign surrounding the naming of Britain’s Natural Environment Research Council’s new ship generated headlines around the world but the decision to abandon the popular choice was guaranteed to create something of a backlash.

For PR professionals the campaign offers a fascinating topic of debate and more than a few lessons, especially when you ask the public to determine the future name of a £200 million pound ship!

As with any public vote, you need to be prepared for a result that you didn’t anticipate or don’t like. With this in mind, perhaps present them with a list of pre-approved names or answers and whatever the result – you know you can live with it!

boaty mcboatface2It’s also important, when you are asking for suggestions to make it clear from the onset that their suggestions are simply that, suggestions, and the end result may not be necessarily the most popular.

What is unquestionable, however is the way the Boaty McBoatface campaign captured the imagination of the press, public and even the politicians who ultimately allocate funding of the Council from the public purse.

Any public disappointment about their most popular name was more than offset by the interest the campaign generated in the work of the NERC and, honestly, who could really argue with the ship being named after a national institution and probably the best-loved man on TV, Sir David Attenborough.

To top it all, the Boaty McBoatface name is to live on. The public voice is not to be forgotten as the ship’s remotely-operated submersible will carry the name.

All things considered most public relations professionals would consider the exercise a resounding success. No doubt Boaty McBoatface will launch a thousand other naming campaigns but few will like reach the same highs, should that be plumb the same depths!

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