Look up the term “PR stunt”, “publicity stunt”, or “public relations stunt” online, and you will see definitions like this one, which describes it as “something unusual that is done to attract people’s attention to a particular person, product, or organisation.”
What is perhaps more revealing, however, is the way in which the term “PR stunt” is often used. “Oh, it’s just a PR stunt”, some of us might say, as we read about an outlandish marketing campaign by a brand, or even a celebrity marriage that we suspect arose due to a wish to cultivate positive media headlines above all else.
The term “PR stunt”, in other words, can sometimes be associated with the cynicism with which some of us greet such events.
However, that’s not the end of the story about PR stunts. After all, we’ve probably all come across a ‘wacky’ advertising billboard, art installation, or even perhaps a flashmob, which turned out to be the initiative of a particular brand, and caused us to smile. Even if our response to such an event might not have been entirely positive initially, we might have remembered the PR stunt – and the brand – for a lot longer than we may have otherwise done.
The fact is, whether we like to admit it or not, many of us are captivated by PR stunts. The best publicity stunts are not merely ‘attention-grabbers’, even if this is still fundamental to their purpose; they have a genuine artfulness about them, and evoke much of what it is to be human. They can cause us to laugh, and to think… and they might well leave us with a more positive perception of the brand responsible for the stunt.
Of course, a PR stunt can have a negative impact on a brand’s reputation, too. An ill-judged or poorly executed PR stunt, just like a well-judged and expertly executed one, will get people talking… but not necessarily for the right reasons. You won’t want Twitter or Facebook to be ablaze with talk about how your brand got it spectacularly wrong.
Our BrandWarriors can help ensure you get your brand’s PR stunts right
As you might imagine, here at BrandWarriors, we’re great fans of PR stunts… when they are done well. Of all the types of engagement your brand could invest in, they might be among the most sensitive, but they can also be one of the most powerful.
A PR stunt is – by its very nature – distinctive, inventive, and fun. It will not be your primary means of advertising or promotion, so it isn’t bound by quite the same rules. Instead, as a tool to immediately grab attention, it can be something rare, different, unexpected… and worthy of going viral, with the associated benefits for your brand’s profile, sales, and revenue.
So, to answer the question we set out at the top of this article… yes, a PR stunt could turn out to be an excellent move for your brand. However, you will need to take a lot of care to get it right. That means properly accounting for the potential positives and negatives, and having a ‘plan B’ in place, should you need to resort to it.
Would you like to know more about the types of engagement – including PR stunts – that could elevate your brand’s impact in all the ways you want it to be elevated this year? If so, our BrandWarriors are available to talk at the other end of the phone on 020 7702 3600, or contactable via email. We would be delighted to explore the ways we could work with you on your next project.