PRWeek at the BRIT Awards: Nine comms snippets from the night

PRWeek UK was invited to the BRIT Awards this week by DawBell, the PR firm behind the awards night. Here are nine observations, questions and reactions from the night.

A packed O2 Arena for last night's bash (Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
A packed O2 Arena for last night's bash (Credit: Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)

1. Adele the winner from the start

Adele was the big winner on the evening with a quartet of gongs, but I reckon she was the audience's winner all along. My unscientific analysis shows that she got the biggest cheers and the most affection from the audience in the arena from the off.

2. No swearing please, we're BRITs

Adele's use of an expletive in one of her speeches prompted an apology from presenters Ant and Dec – which a number of people pointed out was odd since this was comfortably after TV's watershed. Another, later instance of bad language from Mark Ronson also led to a flurry of interest among journalists. Hardly surprising perhaps – after all, bad language in TV ads was the cause of a huge numbers of complaints to the advertising regulator last year. We BRITs/Brits just don't like it – but journalists do, with plenty of copy written on Adele's potty mouth.

3. Madonna's 2015 fall: no stunt

Madonna's on-stage fall at the 2015 awards was one of the major talking points of last year's event (and is still being parodied 12 months on). A few PRs – what terrible cynics! – questioned whether this was a deliberate publicity stunt, but an authoritative source told me that it definitely was not. Twelve months late it might be, but you heard it here first.

4. ...but was this really a Little Mix-up?

The band Little Mix tweeted, and the band's PR Simon Jones, who also handles One Direction, retweeted that its members were a "bit disappointed" that photos were leaked from their dress rehearsal. Now it's my turn to be cynical and question whether that really was a leak – I'm sure the band weren't too upset about the extra column inches they got.

5. Wi-Fi problems at 'most digital' BRITs

The event's organisers had promised that this would be the "most digital" in the awards' history, with coverage across several social media channels, live streaming on YouTube and one award handed out based on Twitter votes. That might have been so outside the arena, but inside the arena, patchy Wi-Fi and little mobile reception panicked journalists and meant fans were less able to get involved with the digital event. There was also no live screen showing tweets and other social activity to the arena audience – so the digital and live events weren't quite as interlinked as perhaps they could have been.

6. Music PRs keep the journalists happy

Surrounded by music journalists, I decided to be a bit mischievous and ask a couple if they could say (anonymously, of course) if there were any particular PR firms they dreaded working with. The answers: no firms in particular, it's more about getting on with individuals and having a good relationship with particular people. Further evidence if it was needed that this business is all about relationships.

7. City hack does a sterling job

You'd have thought that the BRITs would be a hot ticket for the entertainment teams of most media – but one internationally renowned outlet may have been short-staffed this week. This firm dispatched a financial journalist more used to reporting on currencies to the event, but the hack in question rose to the occasion and didn't miss a beat, filing copy through the night.

8. 'Believing in...' PR?

Four-letter words aside, I detected the hand of the publicist in a couple of acceptance speeches, and 2016 was the year of belief in this regard. In her first acceptance speech, Adele thanked her record label "for believing in me as a woman", while James Bay thanked several different people "for believing in me" through his speech.

9. A tribute to the Starman

It can be difficult to get tributes to the deceased right in a corporate setting, and sound sincere rather than crass (we're looking at you, Crocs). For my money, the BRITs tribute to David Bowie got it right – majestic without pomp, sentimental but not mawkish. For me, the most important line from Gary Oldman's speech was this: "He reminded us to never take ourselves too seriously." Amen to that.

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