Reunions, happy endings & the power of stories

In my last blog I talked about the power of simplicity and how many of the communications fundamentals have stayed the same, despite the massive changes of the past two decades.

In the age of social media one of the key principles is still understanding what makes a good story and the best way of telling it.

You might have seen a story we worked on last week about a pizza shop owner who was trying to track down a nurse who had saved his life by doing CPR after he collapsed at work late at night.

If you’re interested in the background you can see it here and read about the reunion we set up here.


Having worked as a journalist and then a PR for the past 20 years I’ve probably done hundreds if not thousands of these stories, many of them about fairly emotive or upsetting subjects.

But for some reason this one caused a very profound reaction in me and as I introduced the people to each other in front of the cameras I realised, with utter horror, that I had a massive lump in my throat

Now, I’m a fairly unreconstructed Northern man but afterwards I was chatting to one of the photographers who admitted to feeling exactly the same.

To put you fully in the picture you can see the footage from the BBC here.

After swallowing something hard and jagged I started to think about why it had that effect on me, but also on lots of other people who had seen or reacted to the story. I’ve been pondering about what we can learn from that in all our communications work and so far this is what I’ve come up with:

  1. There’s something elemental and raw about one person being able to save a life and the amazing serendipity about about being in the right place at the right time.
  2. Despite all the huge changes in the way we communicate and engage with each other the hero model of storytelling from Ancient Greece still seems to strike a chord. We all need heroes and happy endings.
  3. Emotions and basic human interest stories are still the most popular whatever the channel. People are interested in people.
  4. In highly emotionally charged situations people will be genuine and completely unguarded even on camera.
  5. People can do extraordinary things and people want to hear about how they did it.
  6. The power of chance & luck is a fascinating idea. If they’d been a minute earlier or later or not gone out at all it would have been a very different story.

Pippa and Stephen are the most modest and unassuming hero’s you can imagine, deserve huge credit and I’m pleased they were able to get so much recognition.

Huge thanks also to my team, particularly Liz Walker, for working so hard to make it all happen.


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