The Killing, The Filling and Top PR Billing.

The Killing

Danish TV thriller, The Killing

Television doesn’t get much better than 20-episode Danish crime drama Forbrydelsen, which aired in the UK earlier this year as The Killing.

I don’t say this lightly, since normally I can hardly bear to watch anything with subtitles and the vast majority of TV cop, crime and whodunnit shows leave me cold. But this was different.

  • No clichéd, maverick detectives with tragic love lives or alcohol problems
  • No credulity-defying plot twists involving unlikely, unrealistic villains.
  • No ludicrously advanced science labs or intuitively-gifted detectives with Sherlockian powers of deduction.
  • No glamorised serial killers or faceless and instantly forgettable victims.
  • No explosions, car chases, gunfights, impossible stunts or other Hollywood fripperies.

What Forbrydelsen/The Killing offered in spades was believable characters, superb dialogue and a tight, relentless plot showing normal cops doing realistic spadework.

The murder investigation plays out against the parallel and intertwined stories of a knife-edge political battle and the unravelling of the victim’s grief-stricken family.

The show, quite simply, is superb. So I was both cautious and curious when I learned it was being remade in the US.

This week I started watching the new, all-American version of The Killing. While I feared the worst, the Seattle-based remake is also shaping up to be brilliant.

Outright copies rarely win admirers. But remakes like The Killing, which take an impressive original and refashion it with the right amount of reverence and a dash of difference, can be a hit in their own right.

Of course, there are also times when reworkings or retreads of a previously successful formula are ill-advised.  No-one has successfully repeated the now-legendary Old Spice advertising campaign which spanned television, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, winning global praise and admiration in the process.

It was such an innovative outlier it’s likely to be some time before another brand will have the bravery, panache and opportunity to produce something similar-yet-different enough to be a success.

This week I also witnessed an example of inspirational PR ‘repurposing’ courtesy of Craig McGill of social media agency, Contently Managed.

On Tuesday I recorded a Skype chat with Craig for my weekly Quiet News Day podcast (find it on iTunes or via your PC). Top of our agenda was the buffoon who tried to splat a foam pie into the face of Rupert Murdoch during a parliamentary hearing.

On Wednesday Craig was presenting at an all day conference called Twitter in Scotland. At the last minute, one of the speakers pulled out and Craig gamely stepped in to present someone else’s material.

That’s a big ask at the best of times, but more so when the subject matter is one of the most contentious in social media: measuring and evaluating return on investment (ROI).

Part way through his presentation, Craig pulled a master stroke. Shortly before taking the stage he had secretly used Twitter to liaise with one of his clients, the Illegal Jacks restaurant in Edinburgh, to arrange a delivery of food to the venue.

The timing was perfect as Craig’s presentation neared its end Jack and one of his team arrived laden with bags of burritos, chilli and other goodies, perfectly demonstrating smart use of Twitter.

What’s more, Jack was then able to hold the floor while he explained exactly how he measured ROI for his business:  at any given time a THIRD of his customers are from the loyal and passionate fan base he has built on Twitter

Effectively Jack provided the filling for the event – figuratively as an emblematic example of real social media ROI and literally as the huge spread of food he provided for free was quickly demolished by the delighted delegates

But the real kudos goes to Mr McGill. When he’d waxed lyrical about the events in parliament and the likely repercussions for the media and lessons for PR people, he was actually planning a wee remake of his own.

Shortly after Jack’s arrival sent the 50 delegates at the Twitter in Scotland conference into a whirl, the bold McGill winked at me and grinned: “That’s my Murdoch pie moment.”

Pure genius – and one of the reasons Craig  always enjoy top PR billing.


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