Giro So Right? Or Giro So Wrong!

Do you have this in pink?

I’m pretty sure there’s nothing left in the colour pink the length and breadth of Northern Ireland. Why? Because THE GIRO IS COMING! Like we hadn’t noticed…

You see the thing about here is, we are overly humble. We’ve spent decades knocking rounds out of our homeland. We don’t even want to live here half the time, we can’t fathom why anyone else wants to visit. But when they do we get awfully, awfully, excited about it.

In hindsight we should be used to the attention by now, between the MTV Awards, the royal/presidential/possibly-Papal visits and the major golf tournaments, we don’t shy away from blocking all our roads for the day to show famous guests just how excited we are that they decided to grace us with their presence. This can sometimes leave us stranded on a runaway bandwagon of lead-up coverage that we would all like to get off. Soon.

This is why any major event, like the Giro d’Italia, whose Grand Start takes place here in just a few short weeks, is both a PR opportunity and a PR disaster in disguise for Northern Irish companies. It has a signature colour (the winner’s pink jersey, in case that isn’t obvious) and a statement item (the bicycle) so it’s “photo-call Disneyland”. But people will, and have, become wary of the incessant coverage before the race even kicks off. With that in mind it’s important to get your PR tie-in right.

So here’s my Do’s and Don’ts of Giro PR Piggybacking:

DO PR the local transport

Pink Taxi Giro
Photo courtesy of @PMLGroupNI

You can paint the taxis pink. Vehicles can be various colours after all. It brightens the roads. You can see them in the rain (possibly in the dark too). But more importantly, it helps the visitors know they came to the right place, in case they thought their plane had mistakenly landed in a wasteland to refuel…

DON’T PR the food

Giro Pink Food
Bushmills Chippy Pink Fish photo courtesy of @BBCMarkSimpson and Hot Lips Pink Stew photo courtesy of @StGeorgesBT1

I know it can seem tempting to just turn what you normally produce pink because food dye is non-toxic and it’s a quick win. And some things even look great in pink, like cupcakes. Yum! Battered fish does not however. It looks like something from a contaminated river. And as for pink stew, we’ve all seen it a few times but let’s just say it came up, rather then going down…

DO PR the towns

Ballintoy Pink
Ballintoy Goes Pink photo courtesy of @VisitDerry

I quite like this, it makes our already-quaint villages and beer gardens seem even more picturesque. It also makes good global PR sense, because tourists will take pictures, the TV crews will use it as filler-footage, and it just shows a general sense of support and goodwill for competitors. Be warned though – you will have another PR job on your hands convincing your local ratepayers to fork out for the repaint after the event…

DON’T PR the animals

Pink Animals Giro
Pink sheep photo courtesy of @BBCMarkSimpson and Pink horse photo courtesy of @KeithAnderson

It’s a well-known fact that these cycle events normally pass through rural areas, because they take in the most scenic routes of the host nations (well you need something to take your mind off the pain in your legs don’t you?) Hence the tradition of painting sheep pink. Sheep, we can live with. Our farmers don’t get too attached to their sheep and we know they sheer their fleece anyway because we watch them race each other at it every year during the Balmoral show. But we’re a country that loves our animals and horses are like pets. Don’t paint the horses unless you want a barage of complaints…

DO PR with charity tie-ins

Women On Wheels Oxfam Pink photo courtesy of @OxfamIreland

Charities are forgiven much more in the PR world than the public or private sectors – I should know, seeing as I work for one – and this is especially true when it comes to cheesy photocalls. “It’s all for a good cause” we say, “don’t be too hard on them fer they’ve no budget” the people cry. So tie-in whatever you can. Of course if it actually involves bicycles, it might just work…

DON’T just make something pink for the sake of it

Pink Hair
Pink Giro hairstyle from @BespokeHair_ photo courtesy of @JustinKernoghan

It’s tempting, I know. And it’s possible all the pink paint fumes are making us a bit silly. But if your business’ link to the event is loose to say the least, i.e. you don’t cycle, you’re not exactly on the event route, you’re not sponsoring something, etc. and then the thing you’ve turned pink is so tongue-in-cheek it can’t be used, in reality (AKA a hairstyle from a CBeebies show). Well that’s just embarrassing. Unless it was supposed to be taking the preverbial. In which case, I could like it…

DO avoid the cliches altogether

Opticians Cycle Wheels
Bicycle Wheel Glasses for Giro in @ConveryOptics shopfront photo courtesy of @VictoryChimps who created the piece!

This is my absolute favourite so far. It’s not pink (Thank Heavens for small mercies) but it is, not only cycling-related, but product-related (glasses), AND funny with it! Proving that when you do it smart, you do it better, guaranteed…

And finally DON’T make Arlene hold something

Arlene Holding Pink Stuff
Arlene Foster holding pink stuff for the Giro photo courtesy of @niexecutive

Dear love our wee Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Ms Arlene Foster. She seems to spend her days at photo calls holding various props, usually made of foam, and she still manages to smile. There were so many other options open to her – sit on a bike, kneel beside a bike, get inside a giant wheel. One would almost think we’re starting to see a pattern here that isn’t very polite…