Public relations practitioners all know a furore is an age old technique to generate publicity, so it is hardly surprising that a tale of two “gay” penguins adopting an egg in New York zoo has ruffled a few feathers. What is odd is that the book, and Tango makes Three (based on a true story) was published over 18 months ago, but parents of Shiloh Elementary School in Illinois have hit cyberspace today (300 news links so far on Google News) with calls for it to be placed on restricted access to protect children from its “homosexual undercurrents”. Indeed, the story has even reached China Daily online which reports the “chilly reception” of the book.
With “gay marriages” getting the approval in South Africa this week, it seems a shame that children’s literature is banned rather than being seen as a helpful way to introduce tricky topics. In the UK, the topic of same-sex partnerships is much more mainstream – I was chatting with a journalist yesterday (at a boozy lunch celebrating the Halcyon days of the Beaujolais run) when he mentioned he was about to get a “grandpuppy”. I would have taken this chap for an unreconstructed sort, but he affectionately told me the boxer baby was being “adopted” by his gay son and partner.
Perhaps less mainstream today is to be a fan of the Royal family – so what is the motive behind the PR campaign by Woolworths in unveiling its plans to produce marriage souveniers of the not-yet-even-engaged Prince William and Kate Middleton? In publicity terms, it has captured the headlines (although under 100 Google News links so far) but is it driving customers into Woolies? Royal memorability doesn’t feature highly on the online retail site and the story isn’t reported in the corporate media centre.
Surely press agentry approaches need a genuine objective beyond coverage, whether banning paternal penguins or plugging plates?