Sunday, 5 September 2010
Tiddler, Tiddler, Tiddler’s Late
Reading a bed time story to my three year old son doesn’t normally make me think about public relations and brand management. Thinking about one story made me realise that perhaps there are some lesson’s in Julia Donaldson’s Tiddler.
This is just a bit of fun, but hopefully it will get you all thinking.
Some of you may be aware of the story, but if you are not here’s a synopsis. Tiddler is a small fish who is always late. He’s not big, doesn’t have any attractive colouring and not the best swimmer. Because Tiddler is always late, he spends his time dreaming up imaginative stories of why he was late that day.
One day he’s so busy daydreaming about his latest excuse that he’s caught in a fishing net and taken far from home. Being just a tiddler, he gets thrown back to the sea not knowing his way home. Then he hears a story, a story that he’s heard before – one of his stories – and he follows the trail of sea creatures who’ve told the tale back home.
So what are the lessons? Surely making excuses all the time and being late isn’t good PR? Well, firstly there’s brand management. Tiddler is unprepossessing, yet the other fish remember him. His imagination is his USP and he plays to its strengths. Had he be a bright, colourful fish, the real heart of the story might be confused and they might remember him for a different reason.
Secondly Tiddler has an audience. Some of the other fish dismiss his stories, but Tiddler stays true to who he is and his strengths. One fish in particular, Johnny Dory, loves his stories showing that Tiddler knows his audience and delivers what that audience wants. You don’t have to be relevant to everyone, as long as you understand the niche, market you are involved in.
The third lesson is the power of word of mouth and viral marketing. Tiddler told his stories to his friends. He made them creative, genuine and compelling. His initial audience was just his class and his expectation went no further, but his friend told his granny who told a starfish, seal, lobster then eel – multiplying the audience and extending far further than he dare dream. It only works because it was a good yarn that people and fish wanted to hear meaning genuine content is at the heart of a successful viral campaign.
The fourth lesson is engagement. When Tiddler was in new waters and far from home he listened to the conversations around him and chose to engage with the one that was relevant to him. Even though that fish didn’t know the answer to the question of how he got home, it was six degrees of separation which allowed him to return safely. Equally, Tiddler asked the right questions to find the information he needed, engaging with new creatures he’d never met before and discovering his wider audience.
It’s amazing what you can learn from a bedtime story ;).