What's in a name?
A scene from the 1975 classic film Jaws came to mind recently when I was trying to drum up some media coverage for the women's World T20 qualifying tournament in Thailand.
Mayor Harry Vaughn: I don't think you appreciate the gut reaction people have to these things.
Chief Martin Brody: Harry, I appreciate it. I'm just reacting to what I was told!
Vaughn: Martin, it's all psychological. You yell `barracuda!', everybody says `huh, what?' You yell `shark!' and we've got a panic on our hands on the fourth of July.
If I'd written the proper title of "ICC Women's World Twenty20 Qualifier Thailand 2015", the Irish media would have shrugged, "huh, what, barracuda?"
Instead I wrote T20 World Cup Qualifier, and they bit - screaming "shark".
It wasn't quite a media frenzy but I’d certainly grabbed their attention. Within an hour of my release, I'd received calls and enquires from BBC, UTV, RTE, Radio Ulster among others.
The International Cricket Council weren't amused by my simplification, though, and I was mildly berated by their media department.
That's fine - they were just doing their job and I was doing mine - and, if truth be told, I just ignore them anyway!
Another of the ICC media department quit this week: my fellow Irishman Peter Breen who is a good guy, deserving better than that he's endured there this past 18 months. I wish him well on his travels.
The ICC have lost a few in recent times. It can't be easy working in Dubai, writing releases that can often be seen as defending the indefensible, especially when it comes to the development of the game and 10-team 'World' Cups.
While not divulging too many secrets of 'The Magic Circle', here are a few things you should know about press releases.
Often what's NOT said is more important than what's actually contained. I'll write about all the good news, and while I don't lie about the bad stuff, I just leave it out - guilty by omission, I suppose.
If I do have to mention something unpleasant, I try and bury it in an avalanche of good news. Think of how Sir Humphrey Appelby (Nigel Hawthorne) tried to hide things from Jim Hacker (Paul Eddington) among hundreds of files in the political comedy "Yes Minister/Prime Minister" and you get the drift.
The timing of a release is important too. If it's something positive, always look to release it early in the day and early in the week, if possible, to get maximum exposure.
The reverse is true of negative news. Always be wary of anything other than match reports which go out on Fridays or at weekends after 6pm!
If a release contains numerous references to something being "exciting" then it's usually as dull as dishwater.
There was one this week from ICC which had four references to "exciting", "excitement" and "excited" - it was anything but.
The record for such references is 11 - it was an ECB release about a partnership with a company - you know the sort - "ACME Ltd" is delighted to announce an "exciting" new deal with the ECB where we will become the official supplier of mathematical algorithms etc.
The guideline is that the number of "exciting" references is inversely proportional to how exciting the topic is.
The idea for this latest column came during my flight back from Bangkok to Dublin following the conclusion of the Women's event.
It was one of those flights from hell that we've all endured or heard about. There was a five-hour delay because of a technical fault - three of which were spent on the runway, before we were all unloaded, bussed and marched for 30 minutes.
Then, after a bottle of water, we were marched back on again. The temper was starting to fray - the delay meant I'd miss my connecting flight - and to cap it off, there was a screaming baby to my right who was expressing very vocally the frustration all of us felt.
In my best PR release speak I consoled the concerned parents with "how difficult it must be travelling with a young child" - I really wanted to say "For Christ's sake, would you just shut the **** up and let me sleep!"
To my left were an elderly Scottish couple who had been on holiday celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.
He was a keen cricket fan and was complaining about the absence of free-to-air matches on the BBC, and the madness of having a World Cup of 10 teams - he was preaching to the converted.
We eventually got underway around 6am and shortly afterwards breakfast was served. The usual omelette, fruit, croissant like a brick etc was doled out.
The stewardess then asked what drinks we'd all like - I opted for orange juice but I don't know who was the more surprised - her or myself - when the Scottish couple opted for a whisky and a gin and tonic - doubles too, they insisted.
They picked up on my enigmatic grin and explained – “it's back to porridge for us tomorrow and it's five o'clock somewhere!”
I knew how they felt when the alarm went off at 6am this morning and I trudged wearily back to the day job with the thermometer just nudging above zero - back to porridge all right.