WHEN DONE CORRECTLY, publicity stunts (PR stunts) can be tremendously effective in generating media interest, creating buzz, and greatly increasing brand awareness.
PR stunts can result in positive coverage of your business or products/services on websites, blogs, videos, journals, newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, news shows, and newsletters that are listened to, watched or read by some portion of your target market.
Uber, for example, has used publicity stunts to create viral attention and disrupt the entire taxi industry. In America, for example, it provided roses free of charge on Valentine’s Day to users looking to impress their dates.
But a PR stunt must make sense and tie-in somehow to your brand.
Creating an amazing stunt is a great way to get attention, but there’s no point being talked about if none of it mentions your brand or generates leads or conversions.
If you want to get people to talk about your PR stunt, it must be unusual, outrageous, funny, taboo or secret.
Carlsberg beer hit at least a couple of these buttons in 2015 when it unveiled its ‘Best Poster in the World’ billboard in London’s Brick Lane that dispensed free beer. The stunt generated a lot of interest on social media with #probablythebest generating over three million Twitter impressions in one day.
One of the best examples of a PR stunt was run by the Queensland Tourism Board, now widely regarded as one of the most successful tourism campaigns of its kind. It resulted in 8.6 million website visits and 55 million page views. In January 2009, the tourism board launched its ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign that offered one lucky candidate a six-month ‘dream job’: being paid $A75,000 and living rent-free in a three-bedroom villa while acting as the caretaker of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.
Within the first 24 hours, the website received 200,000 hits.
More than 35,000 applications were received from over 200 countries. The award-winning PR campaign itself generated more than $A 430 million in global public relations and international news coverage in outlets such as BBC, Sky News, CNN, and Time magazine.
A good PR stunt gets talked about long after the event itself. If there is no ongoing conversation about the stunt, it won’t generate much for your brand.
People must want to share the stunt with their friends and colleagues and across different media (so images must be shareable on social media and be able to be used in print media). Videos of stunts must be able to be embedded and shared.
Great stunts disrupt and provoke your target audience in some way. For that to happen, you need to analyse your target audience so that you know what message will do that.
Here are some other very successful PR stunts:
In honour of the Nativity story, Travelodge offered all married couples who could prove that their names were Mary and Joseph a free night’s stay in their hotels between Christmas Eve and January 5, according to bitesizepr.com.
The improvisation group, ‘Improv Everywhere’ did a flash mob in New York’s Grand Central Station’s main concourse in January 2008 in which participants froze in place for five minutes. The group’s YouTube video of the event got 28 million views.