Saying yes to your 15 minutes of fame

5 July 2021  |  Insights
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Matthew Murray, his wife Becky and their son Josiah on their special trip to Wembley

What a trip to Wembley and spontaneous call from Jeremy Vine taught me about communication...

England’s Euro journey captured us all – none so more than my son Josiah, who turned 10 the day after England’s historic semi-final victory against Denmark. It will be a tournament he will never forget, despite Sunday’s penalty heartache.

The Euros were extra special for him as we somehow grabbed tickets for the Denmark clash at Wembley. Josiah had no idea, and the video of his reaction as he was presented with a new England kit and tickets for the game was viewed more than 1,000 times on social media.

One of the viewers was the producer of the Jeremy Vine show, one of the BBC’s flagship radio shows. It has an estimated 7.2million weekly listeners – so you can imagine the excitement and nerves Josiah and I both felt when we were asked to speak to Jeremy the following morning via telephone and be guests on his show. They were looking for good news stories in the wake of England’s triumph and Josiah’s birthday surprise made the cut.

Just hours earlier we had been cheering on Harry Kane and co, with no idea we ourselves were about to be thrust into the national media spotlight for our few minutes of fame.

It taught me a few things on the topic of communication, and how businesses, charities and organisations must all be prepared for a quick story that could suddenly thrust them into the limelight.

So what did I learn?

1. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know
It’s amazing how it always comes back to this one, isn’t it? Life’s all about people. There were thousands of youngsters at the England v Denmark game, so why did my little boy get picked? Was his story special? I guess. Were there better ones out there? Probably. But I’d developed a relationship with Jeremy’s producer, we’d become Facebook friends and the rest is history. It’s always worth building relationships with the media… you never know when their phone number might be useful.

2. Be quick and flexible
I was in a work meeting when the producer for the show called. I had minutes to plan everything – ensuring my calendar was blank for the show’s time slot, getting permission for Josiah to be released from class (you can imagine the reaction of his classmates) and making sure I had all my facts in order. When dealing with the media, you rarely call the shots. You have to work to their timetable and to their deadlines. Flexibility and quick-thinking is essential.

3. Preparation

Jeremy Vine is one of Britain’s most respected and famous journalists. I had to prepare myself and my son to talk to him. Josiah had never done an interview and although it was easy, lighthearted and fun, basic training still had to apply. What were our key messages? What did we want to get across to Jeremy? What tone did we want to have? How would we answer any awkward silences? I quickly told Josiah to be clear, confident, quick and witty – he was now prepared for his big moment!

4. Enjoy it

Dealing with the media is usually unpredictable, often terrifying, potentially life-changing and can be a whole lot of fun too! Jeremy was delightful, Josiah was the star of the show and the interview went almost perfectly. We had hundreds of texts and messages from friends who tuned in, and Josiah returned to school a hero after his quick media frenzy. Jeremy even invited him to the studio for a tour; it made Josiah’s birthday extra special and hopefully put some smiles on thousands of listeners’ faces across the country too. The next day it was back to reality. And we won’t even mention Sunday.

Matthew Murray is an Account Executive for Jersey Road PR.

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