“You want a PR stunt? Simple. Let’s build something big, float some s**t down the Thames and get everyone hyped up.” Bam. Job done. Time to put our feet up, early pub lunch. May as well start looking at flights to Cannes and make some space in the dusty trophy cabinet for a shiny new Lion.
Luckily, this doesn’t happen. Or shouldn’t happen. Wouldn’t be much of a blog if it did. If you’ve recently had this presented to you as the only idea in response to your brief, please stop reading immediately. Pick up the phone and call for help.
The concept of a ‘PR stunt’ is tricky to define. The phrase evokes different interpretations for different people: for some it’s coming up with something out-of-this-world wacky; for others it’s something deliciously subtle and clever; while for others still it’s a quick tactic to get a mention in the local press. And yes, for some it means floating s**t down the Thames.
What these all have in common is the desire to make a statement and to be recognised. To get coverage, get people talking and – whisper it – maybe even hit upon that elusive alchemy of going viral. Many stunts have been applauded, some lauded, a rare few canonised in PR folklore for all time. Many more have been met with shock, bewilderment, or – worst of all – downright apathy.
So naturally, if you’re a brand looking to pour your heart and soul into this plea for attention in the public consciousness, you want to be in that first camp. You don’t want to be ignored or waste your money. You want to get it right. Luckily, at Hatch, we know how – here’s our top tips for planning your very own PR stunt:
Define your objectives & audience
This may feel like Marketing 101 but it’s key. A PR stunt can’t be something that just happens and that’s it – otherwise you immediately fall into the ‘who cares’ category. Define what you want to actually get out of it, who you want to talk to, and make sure your idea has the potential to achieve this.
Get a killer piece of insight
Just one well-found fact can be the spark to a great idea which will capture the imagination of the public and the press. It also gives a reason for the stunt to exist – and a reason for people to care. It’s exactly what we did for Chill Factore – using insights from the RSPCA to launch a ‘Canine Chill Zone’ in response to a summer heatwave, which gained national coverage and helped the indoor ski destination to sell out during a traditionally quiet time of year.
For many, a PR stunt conjures up images of the du jour campaigns we see knocking around in various iterations. Projecting onto the Houses of Parliament. OOH sampling billboards. Singing flashmobs in train stations. Currently, plastering everything in a Barbie pink so hot it sears my eyeballs.
Yes, these have all worked before, and with some twists, continue to do well. But when lots of brands try to hop on the bandwagon and try and replicate the same thing, the results become… meh.
In fact, daring to be different has its rewards in helping you to stand out from the competition. It also can save you money – getting way more impact at a fraction of the price. Ideas that still make you smile, like the very first Rabbit Grand National that we introduced for pet care brand Burgess.
Keep it real
Whatever you do, keep your activation true to your brand identity. Don’t get carried away with the ‘stunt’ part of the idea and go too off-the-wall; treat this like any other marketing channel and ensure everything ladders up to your core brand values, so consumers don’t leave with a totally wrong impression of who you are and what you stand for.
It’s the same for your messaging – make sure this is crystal clear in the execution. Otherwise it’s like pouring money into an ad campaign without a strapline, leaving people going “eh?”. Bit like I did when I saw this from Domino’s recently.
Get your PR strategy aligned
Sounds obvious – it’s a PR stunt right? But you’d be surprised how many are activated without a clear strategy in place and it’s just assumed that coverage will just organically happen. Again, think about your audience and your messaging, and how you can most effectively disseminate this information. Think about what the press and media will actually find interesting to cover, and bake this into your idea. Work your press office hard, do photocalls and invite media down, the works.
It’s also worth thinking whether a media partnership could help maximise your reach – read how we did this with Northern Monk and LadBible to brew the world’s most expensive beer.
Execute to perfection
A great idea is no good without precision planning to help bring it to life. Take care of the details, work out your production, logistics, site permissions, briefings, and so forth. Leave nothing to chance. It’s how we toured the Rugby League World Cup trophies around 18 locations nationwide in just 48 hours.
Amplify through Social & Content
This is imperative to maximise your reach and return on investment. Find an angle that will interest your social audience and promote the stunt across relevant channels via images or video content to encourage consumer engagement – we’re after attention, after all. Once the physical activation is done, continue the conversation and reuse and repurpose your content for future campaigns.
Sweat the Experiential, max out ROI
Don’t forget that the stunt is a live event – quite possibly with significant investment made into props, production and site fees. So plan out how to make the most when you’re live. Experiential is an incredibly powerful tool in the marketing mix – so talk to people face to face and engage them in ways which will double down on your ROI – such as product sampling, data capture mechanics and further immersive brand experiences.
Once the ‘stunt’ is out of the way, why waste the ‘stuff’ – think about how it can be repurposed for other Experiential uses such as roadshows, exhibition stands, or semi-permanent installations.
Measure and evaluate
As a conclusion, we head back to Marketing 101. As with any campaign, build data gathering and evaluation into your plan from the off. Evaluate, learn, and hopefully celebrate your sweet sweet success.
So, there you have it. Hopefully you’re now feeling confident and empowered about embarking on your own PR stunt. We’d love to take that journey with you – get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to make it happen.