How do you reach a national audience of millions when you are sworn to secrecy?

How do you reach a national audience of millions when you are sworn to secrecy and can’t say a word?

How can being gagged and effectively forced to maintain a vow of silence possibly help enhance awareness of your brand?

One of Empica’s clients has just found out thanks to a pair of prankster presenters from BBC radio 1.

Greg James, who has been attracting an average audience of 5.1 million listeners for his breakfast show, teamed up with Nick Grimshaw to spark a national manhunt when they went on the run in their second ‘Hide and Seek’ stunt.

While listeners spent nearly 26 hours trying to solve a series of cryptic clues to find out where they were, the popular presenters were cooped up in a makeshift studio in the boardroom at the top of the South Tower of the Grand Pier in Weston-super-Mare.

One listener climbed to the top of Blackpool Tower to knock on a door, only then to hear the DJs tell him, on air, that they were not, as he had hoped and expected them to be, on the other side of it.

When they were eventually found by a super-sleuth listener called Scott, the pair happily exclaimed on air, “We’re free!”

And they weren’t the only ones who were relieved.

A very small team of people at the Pier were in on the whole story but sworn to secrecy.

Usually, the Pier is never shy to announce in advance news of any famous faces paying a visit, as this draws in even more visitors.

But mum was the word and the few staff who did know had to tread very carefully to not let the cat out of the bag prematurely, which meant Nick and Greg were, in effect, hiding right under the noses of some 150 staff and around 10,000 visitors while in their hideout.

But far from being a missed PR opportunity, the Grand Pier came to the attention – and into the thoughts and minds – of a national audience of millions, which has been music to the ears of its staff.

Sometimes, achieving positive PR is not about how loud you shout, but it’s about choosing your moment and shouting at the right time.