Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months (in which case, I hope you enjoyed your break and welcome back!), you’ve probably become acquainted with the question “who killed Lucy Beale?” This week, in an EastEnders story line that has been gradually building for the last ten months, it was finally revealed that Lucy was murdered by (SPOILER ALERT) her 11 year-old half brother, Bobby.
I don’t watch EastEnders, never really have. Many colleagues and friends don’t watch EastEnders, never really have – but we all watched it this week. Why? Because we all, for some reason, wanted to know who killed Lucy Beale. Almost 12 million people tuned in to watch the revelation unfold (the previous week’s Thursday episode had a viewing figure of seven million), and it accounted for more than 44 percent of the evening’s TV audience. A total of 1,028,036 tweets were sent throughout the two episodes aired the evening of the big reveal, with 30,000 posted in the minute after the killer was revealed.
Woah. That’s one hell of a PR campaign.
While it would appear that the majority of viewers were not overly pleased with the fact the eventual killer had never been a suspect, and questioned how an 11 year old was able to murder a fully-grown woman (possibly with a jewellery box, that’ll be revealed later) when she was aware of his presence, and there were also a number of other people in the house – I doubt the EastEnders team care much. Over the last few months they have managed to build up a furore so great that even people who would never normally consider watching the show, who may, in fact, feel that even Don’t Tell the Bride is a better use of their viewing time, watched it.
It was a pretty slow and steady campaign and that might be the lesson for us in the PR world. Despite not having the foggiest idea what was going on most of the time, or who anyone was, I stayed watching because I’d heard so much about it over such a long period of time – it, at one point, seemed the coverage was relentless.
So I guess the lesson is, people might not care at the start, but say it for long enough and say it loud enough and they may just start to – though, particularly in the tech-PR world, it might be advisable to make sure the end product pleases the people. There is, after all, such a thing as bad publicity in our realm.