I had a fun this morning sitting on the judging panel for the upcoming OnHollywood 100 awards. But not as much fun as my colleagues in the UK were obviously having. Today, on the way to work, one of them spotted a whale in the Thames. It’s not something you see everyday, so they called the media to break the story. Apparently it swam by our London offices near the Houses of Parliament. As the news started to break, they quickly put up a blog to track the progress of the whale and sent out our photographer to record the event.
And so, the LEWIS Whale Watch blog was born, recording minute-by-minute reports about where to find the whale. They named him ‘Gonzo’ and collected pictures and sightings of the fate of the whale. It was breaking news, and rapidly attracted a huge audience of Gonzo well wishers.
Jon Silk, who set up the blog and acted at whale HQ [pictured above on the BBC], told me that the blog had 22,000 page views in the first seven hours alone, 8,000 unique users and literally hundreds of comments and emails. The blog itself was picked up on Sky News (a UK satellite channel), the BBC Online, Times Online, The Guardian and then into the blogosphere. The photos were also taken and used by the media as part of their coverage, and I’ve seen a couple of faces I recognize in video snippets which are circulating as members of the team were interviewed for their part in the events. The news of the whale itself has hit the US, Germany and Sweden.
It’s a classic Friday news piece. Poor innocent whale – will he make it or will he not? The blog was a great medium to get the story out there and cover it live. With my agency hat on, it was also a great way for LEWIS to get its name out there. We’ve had tons of well wishing emails. And it shows the power of blogs to break and influence the news as it happens.
And the whale? At the time of writing, we still don’t know – but I know a place you can find out.
UPDATE – BBC: The whale died at 1900GMT on Saturday after being lifted onto a barge trying to take it back out to sea.