Did you hear the story of the pregnant woman who fell pregnant after a one-night stand, and appealed on Youtube to track down the father? It was all over the news at the start of September:
‘I just want to see him again… if he says no then OK’; Young French tourist who posted a video looking for the Australian man she says she fell pregnant to in a one-night stand tearfully defends herself against online skeptics
The young French woman, who appealed for help online to find the man she says got her pregnant on the last night of a three month trip to Australia, has defended herself against online skeptics.
Natalie Amyot, from Paris, has returned to the Mooloolaba on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast where she said she spent ‘a beautiful night’ with a ‘really cute’ man she fell instantly in love with.
Source: Daily Mail, 1st September 2015
Are YOU her one-night stand? French beauty seeks Australian boy to tell him she’s PREGNANT
A STUNNING young french girl has started a viral search for a man whom she spent the night with in Australia – to tell him she’s pregnant.
Natalie Amyot, from Paris, is fast becoming a viral sensation after posting a video on Facebook about her search for a handsome young man with whom she spent the night earlier this year.
Natalie’s last night of a three month trip to Australia was spent frolicking with this mystery man, and then the pair went home together.
Source: Express, 2nd September 2015
Just who was this girl who had an ‘amazing’ time in an ‘amazing’ place, looking for the guy she lost? Funny story…
‘Natalie Amyot’: Video of French woman appealing to find holiday romance in Australia revealed as hoax
A French woman who released a YouTube video to apparently find her Australian holiday romance after falling pregnant has confirmed it was a hoax.
The video of “Natalie Amyot” making a plea to viewers to help her find the man was met with a combination of support, derision and a hefty dose of scepticism
Source: Independent, 2nd September 2015
As the Independent, Daily Mail, Mirror and Metro eventually concluded, rather than a true modern tale of a lady seeking out the prince charming who impregnated her on her final night of a fantastic holiday, the story is actually nothing more than a PR stunt designed to advertise holidays in the Mooloolaba area. As the culprit behind the video revealed the next day:
‘This has been a viral video for Holiday Mooloolaba. My name is Andy Sellar and I own a company called Sunny Coast social media,’ he said.
‘We do viral videos for businesses. Now I know there is going to be a lot of you that are upset by this… maybe not too happy.
‘We just wanted to put Mooloolaba on the map because it’s a wonderful place. So thank you for watching and we are going to do many, many more videos like this,’ he explained.
There’s a deeply interesting element to this story for those who follow PR, journalism and viral marketing. First, it exposes the credibility of the major news sources in the digital age, where neatly packaged stories routinely land on journalists’ laps and are passed uncritically into the news, especially where a quirky-and-slightly-sexy angle and a highly photogenic young lady are concerned. It was a perfect story for so many outlets, and as such was too good to really fact check – after all, why put in the legwork that will discover that the story is bogus, and therefore have to kill a perfectly serviceable piece of clickbait?
Secondly, of particular note is the extent of the second wave of coverage, based on the big reveal: highlighting that the story was a hoax had an even greater impact in the press, as newspapers who failed to publish the original got to gloat over their taken-in rivals, and those who did publish it get to add a coda to an quirky story and get to run the same photogenic young lady again. Newspapers like the Mail, who ran the first story with notes about skeptics who doubted the veracity – yet the paper still ran the story – added notes into the follow up to suggest they’d been the ones to break the big reveal:
A former friend of the fictional Ms Amyot confirmed to Daily Mail Australia she was in fact Alizee Michel who is believed to have studied marketing and tourism.
Jordan Foster said Ms Michel had attended the University of the Sunshine Coast – north of Brisbane – for ‘a few years’.
Which would have been a great angle, had the story not also included the video produced by Andy Sellars coming clean – something the Mail certainly did not dig up.
Finally, there’s the note from Andy about his future plans:
So thank you for watching and we are going to do many, many more videos like this,’ he explained.
Given that we can show that fooling the papers is easy when they are very willing to be fooled, and that revealing your hoax gains you a second and even greater wave of publicity, I can certainly see why Andy might be looking to score the next viral hit.
It would be easy to mistake the analysis by this blog as humourless, po-faced parade-pissing around issues that are often just a harmless bit of fun, and to an extent there are elements of the criticism that ring true. However, it’s undeniable that the newspapers are not so hard to fool, and that’s an incentive to other PR agencies to produce more falsehood-laden PR fodder, to create more spurious studies and nonsensical formulae, and to continue using the mainstream news as their own private advertising channel, at the extent of the newspaper’s reputation and the trust of its readership. It’s hard to celebrate that as a particularly good thing.