PR Stunts…the good, the bad and the ugly!

Definition: publicity stunt

noun 

something unusual that is done to attract people’s attention to a particular person, product, or organization:

“The all-night debate is nothing more than a publicity stunt.”

If executed well, a PR stunt can catapult an unknown brand into the media spotlight but, as we have seen time and time again, not all PR stunts land with the intended impact and this can be seriously detrimental to a company’s image.

For a PR stunt to be successful, it should;

  • Have a clear objective – PR stunts are fun, yes, but what is the point in them? A brand must be clear on the objectives of the stunt before ploughing ahead and sending something to space. While brand awareness is likely to be a key objective for any stunt, there needs to be some evidence as to how the activity will support enquiries, sales, or reputation too
  • Engage an audience – once the stunt has their attention, it must keep them entertained, easier said than done
  • Be topical – this is the “why now?” … there is nothing worse than a random stunt which bears no relevance to anything whatsoever
  • Think outside of the box – brands have been orchestrating PR stunts in one way or another since time began, so they need to be original, creative and where possible, a little risky
  • Encourage ‘shareability’ – it’s all well and good spending months planning a huge PR stunt, but what use is it if nobody sees it. Chances are the stunt will take place in one location and the live reach isn’t going to have too much of an impact on a brand without media pick-up, whether that be traditional, online or social media

Good PR Stunts

Fortnite’s Big Black Hole PR Stunt

To mark the end of its tenth season, Epic Games, owner of Fortnite, deleted its social media posts and game sending a wave of confusion and conversation through the e-sports world and beyond, creating a media buzz worldwide.

Fortnite’s Big Black Hole PR Stunt

Hasbro’s Trivial Pursuits Hotel PR Stunt

In April 2019, Hasbro opened a Trivial Pursuits hotel, where the quality of guests’ stays relied on their brainpower, rather than the thickness of their wallet.

Hasbro’s Trivial Pursuits Hotel PR Stunt

Burger King’s Beaten Up Burgers PR Stunt

In 2017, Burger King teamed up with No Bully for a social experiment which stirred up a number of emotions for its customers, and for those who watched the stunt unfold online.

Burger King’s Beaten Up Burgers PR Stunt

Poundland’s Gift Of Nothing PR Stunt

This Valentine’s Day, Poundland released the Gift Of Nothing – a heart shaped plastic object with nothing it.

Poundland’s Gift Of Nothing PR Stunt

Bad PR Stunts

Snapple’s Melting Mess PR Stunt

It isn’t a brainstorm at a PR agency if somebody doesn’t suggest the ingenious idea of creating the biggest or the smallest version of a product as a PR stunt, now is it?

Snapple’s Melting Mess PR Stunt

Jägermeister’s Poisonous PR Stunt

When Jägermeister hosted a pool party in Leon, Mexico to promote its product, party goes were left with much more sever conditions than a hangover.

Jägermeister’s Poisonous PR Stunt

In summary, PRs should be cautious when it comes to stunts, not only because they have the potential to go wrong but because if they are not delivered properly, they can leave a brand in worse place reputationally than they were before. That said, a well-executed PR stunt can give a brand a large platform from which to get their key message across and really can make the months of blood, sweat, tears and planning worth it.

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