Magellan’s 20th anniversary – One fine day back in 1998, three friends – Keith, Fiona and myself, Sue – got together and launched MagellanPR, a new travel & lifestyle public relations company with our first client being Claridge’s to launch their Bar, followed swiftly by Palm Springs Desert Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Our travel adventure had begun. Keith and Fiona handled the admin whilst I was client facing, travelling the world in search of travel excellence. Our offices were in the centre of London as we needed to be in courier reach of all key media outlets – those days, transparencies (remember those?), CD discs and urgent information was dispatched by motorcycle courier to media on deadline.
Sending a press release I seem to recall was a major backwoods operation – they had to be written, proofed, client approved, laid out for printing on letterhead, photocopied, stapled, folded, inserted in a labelled envelope, weighed and franked with the post office picking up huge sacks of mail every day. A large office space was required to simply store stocks of client letterhead and brochures, expensive leases with maintenance contracts had to be signed for enormous photocopier cum folding cum inserting cum labelling cum weighing cum franking machines (that kept going wrong – very diva-like) and a major monthly financial burden was the stamp budget with hundreds of stamps of different denominations required for individual sized parcels and large letters. The Post Office loved us … the feeling wasn’t always mutual.
We were in the midst of a dot.com bubble with the web becoming a household word and URLs appearing in advertising. Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer with Windows 98 and ruled the world. The age of dial up connections was ending as 41% of adults went online. We loved AOL and Hotmail and used Yahoo and Lycos as our search engines of choice. We spent ages feeding in faxes to the machine and waiting for the confirmation of transmission before moving away and if we had a CD player in our PCs, we were living it large.
Lunch meetings were the norm but to entice an editor, it had to be held in the smartest of smart restaurants with all sorts of tactics employed when we tried to get a table booked on a specific day – friendly concierges were (and still are) a blessing. Bloggers would not even have been perceived in a world where the travel editors of the nationals were treated like demi-gods and everyone still read the newspapers although the word “new media” and the first stumbling attempts to go online were happening.
So now, twenty years on, and running the company with Fiona’s daughter and my god-daughter, Alexandra, we are now totally mobile, working from hot-desks in London and in the country or even our home offices; we send out our information via HTML link-laden newsletters and targetting bloggers has become the new normal with social media an everyday communications tool. Imagery is über important in our new visual online universe and travel pieces are run or discarded purely on the calibre of photograph available – all, of course, emailed or DropBox’d to art editors.
So what else were we all doing in the year of Magellan’s birth – well as it turns out, quite a bit. Thanks to wikipedia and the internet for our research findings!
On TV, we laughed at Will & Grace (now back on our screens), wanted to be Carrie’s BFF in Sex in the City, loved the antics of the Dinner Ladies and became part of the Royle Family, the pre-cursor to Gogglebox.
Madonna was “re-launching” herself again with Ray of Light, we listened in awe to Lauryn Hill, heard Truly Madly Deeply played endlessly on the radio and instantly loved Never Ever by All Saints, the coolest girl band around.
On film, we loved Sliding Doors and Shakespeare in Love with Gwyneth Paltrow, we wondered at The Horse Whisperer – could he really talk to horses?, we totally fell for Jane Horrocks in Little Voice – that girl could sing!; The Truman Show opened with Jim Carrey, Amadeggon was the highest grossing film of the year outing the fascinating relationship of father and daughter with Steve and Liv Tyler and You’ve got Mail continued the successful box office pairing of Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks.
So globally what was happening?
In the first quarter of 1998:
- Rami Yousef was sentenced to life imprisonment for planning the first World Travel Center bombing
- California banned smoking in all bars, clubs and card rooms
- Posh & Becks got engaged
- Elton was knighted by the Queen
- The Millennium Dome was being built
- Washington National Airport was renamed Ronald Reagon National Airport
- Intel unveiled its first graphics chip
- Andrea Bocelli made his operatic debut
- Cornwall closed its last working tin mine – South Crofty
- Titanic won a record 11 Oscars tying with Ben-Hur
- The Vasco da Gama bridge opened in Lisbon, the longest bridge in Europe
- Rolls-Royce is acquired by BMW
If that wasn’t enough, this is the next quarter’s highlights:
- Herefordshire and Worcestershire are re-established 24 years after they were merged to form Hereford and Worcester
- The Good Friday Agreement is signed
- Linda McCartney died
- The 11 European countries that would participate in the launch of the Euro were unveiled – the Euro would become currency as of 1st January 1999.
- Dana International wins the Eurovision Song Contest for Israel
- The last episode of Seinfeld is aired
- Frank Sinatra dies
- The European Central Bank is established in Frankfurt, Germany
- The first general circulation of the two pound coin
- The DVD format is released onto the UK market for the first time – 6,000 discs are sold that first year
- Pete Sampras wins his fifth Wimbledon title
- France wins the 1998 World Cup in France
So let’s look at Quarter three and four:
- The government announced a total ban on the use of landmines
- Magellan was incorporated
- Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin
- The Human Rights Act receives Royal Assent
- The Crime and Disorder Act introduces Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (remember ASBO’s?), Sex Offenders Orders, Parenting Orders and “racially aggravated” offences whilst capital punishment in the UK, already abolished for murder, is completely abolished for all remaining capital offences
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was published – book two in the series
- The European Court of Human Rights was established as a permanent fixture
- Russia was fighting to stave off financial collapse
- Osama bin-Laden was linked to the US Embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi
- Europe’s first national newspaper, The European owned by Robert Maxwell, ceased publication
- The larger merger in history tool place between Exxon and Mobil
- The Queen’s Speech is interrupted by MPs and peers when Her Majesty began to outlay Tony Blair’s plan to abolish the rights of 700 hereditary peers to sit and vote in the House of Lords.
- The International Space Station began construction
- John Hume and David Trimble win the Nobel Peace Prize
- US President Bill Clinton orders a series of air strikes against Iraq when Saddam Hussein prevents UN weapons instructors from conducting a search
- Three days later, US President Bill Clinton is impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice and we associated the names of Clinton with Lewinsky forever
It’s interesting to take a look back over a twenty year period and startling to see that so many seeds were planted in 1998 that still has resonance with us today. Given what we have seen here just in the year 1998, what will we be saying in another double decade I wonder and will we be around to know? It’s a somewhat scary thought.
Contributor: Sue Lowry