Out of Thin Air

Black and white reconstruction of Icelandic crime scene


Production Company: Mosaic Films

Channel: BBC Storyville, Netflix

Date: May – September 2017

tpr media consultants were engaged from May 2017 by Mosaic Films to create and deliver a PR strategy for the documentary Out of Thin Air. We positioned the feature-length film as a compelling true crime story, a successor to Making a Murderer with stylish, Nordic Noir appeal. The campaign tied in with its broadcast on BBC Storyville (pushed back from July to August) and Netflix availability (from September).

For the film to stand out with the level of recognition and awareness it deserved required careful PR positioning and implementation. The first challenge was to make this story accessible in words and images. With the support of Mosaic Films, tpr media spent a lot of time researching the background to the case and creating a press pack and website which told the story, painting a picture of 1970s Iceland, the backstory of the contributors and an understanding of Memory Distrust Syndrome, a rare condition where people lose trust in their own memories. We felt this this was essential groundwork in helping an already overstretched media to understand the complex but fascinating case. We also focused on the stylised look and feel of the documentary and the trailer was very helpful here. Using these finely-tuned media materials as a starting point, we created different pitches for different outlets, carefully briefing contributors – especially Erla Bolladottir and Dr Gisli Gudjonsson – and the production team, who we were in regular contact with.

Knowing that Out of Thin Air would appeal to a younger-than-usual Storyville audience, we aimed for coverage in a broad range of outlets that included the Guardian, Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and The World Tonight as well as Vice – where it was one of their most shared stories of the week – film website Little White Lies and the Huffington Post. BBC Newsnight were keen to cover the story but bumped it twice due to a busy news agenda. We had blanket previews, many four and five stars, from the Financial Times to the Observer; the listings magazines also lapped it up and Broadcast ran a behind the scenes feature written by the production team. Overall there were 52 pieces of coverage with a total reach of 13.3million people. The total news value for the campaign was £404, 850.