Masturbation: A Lesson in Effective Corporate Communications

Masturbation Notice

Spotting this picture pop up in my Facebook feed, it was hard to resist following the link to the full story at The Poke, a collection of funny blogs, posts that bills itself as ‘time well wasted’.

And it nicely follows on from my post a few weeks back about the folks at Flickr who I thought handled a fairly major server outage rather well.

I really hope that this isn’t a fake. Or at least the deflty-handled response purported to be from the Director of Corporate Communications at St Andrews University, Niall Scott, who was asked to verify if notice which appeared on campus was legitimate.

Let’s face it, it’s a funny fake. And a po-faced official might have taken a dim view to a Freedom of Information request enquiring about the veracity of the notice. Mr Scott’s response is a lesson in the art of a well-balance riposte of fact, humour and policy.

Taking into consideration the subject matter, there’s so many ways this could’ve gone wrong and I wonder how long it took to knock out (pun very much intended) this response.

Well, played. Like I said, I really hope the response isn’t a fake. The names check out and I’ve emailed Niall to double-check. In the meantime, here’s a snippet of his response:

A strong clue that the notice is fake is the line “Please go home and masturbate if you are bored.” As a matter of policy, the University would never encourage students to go home during term time.

I understand that two copies of the notice were attached, with chewing gum, to doors of the male toilets in the University of St Andrews Main Library on or about the afternoon of Sunday November 13th 2011. The notices were removed by Library staff shortly afterwards.

Far from having a policy on masturbation or outlawing the practice, as the bogus notice alleged, the University encourages the study of it, academically at least. Among the titles in the University Library is “Solitary Sex : A Cultural History of Masturbation” by Thomas Walter Laqueur, pub Zone Books, New York, 2003.

Available from the short loan section, and as of 3 p.m. this afternoon, one copy still available to borrow.

The full response is available in the original blog post on The Poke. It’s worth a read.

UPDATE: Just heard back from Niall at St Andrew’s University who confirms that the incident is true, and his response is genuine. Top work.

via Andrew Fawcett-Wolff & Craig Cockburn.

Also published on Medium.


Inquisitive. Hopeful. Jovial. Cantankerous. Digital marketer. Event organiser. Long-time fan of tech, collaboration and innovation. Exploring digital, social, business, technology, society, psychology & startups. Founder Chinwag, Digital Mission, Pitch NYC, ChinwagPsych. Former Exec Dir, Social Media Week London. More short stuff @toodlepip on Twitter.

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