- by Helen
The phrase “PR stunt" might elicit a full-body cringe. Memories of ill-timed, poor taste attempts at a headline grab make you shake your head. Or maybe it fills you with fear. Your marketing role means you are frequently tasked to “get publicity" with an expensive example of a major international competitor’s campaign as your only brief. Whatever your history with “PR stunts" it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of embarking on a campaign.
Lexi Mills’ talk at the recent OutREACH Conference helped dispel many myths and alleviate fears that “PR stunts" may raise. The key points of consideration with any campaign is timeline, client buy-in and topical strength. Lexi covered all of these and more. My takeaways and musings from her talk included:
Speed is critical
We know it well. The collective consciousness of the human population has a very short attention span these days. News trending one day and being forgotten the next means any campaign you launch that follows a trending topic needs to be implemented fast. One of the tactics Lexi covered is the assembling of your expert team and making sure each person has one task to do. This guarantees that in moments where a long wait, constant hounding by phone or trawling round costume shops is required, this will be the sole focus of one person.
Your stunt must be flawless
As with any type of campaign a PR stunt can go from award winning to headache-inducing at the drop of a keen journalist's hat. If your stunt is not flawless, it falling flat and gaining no coverage may be the least of your problems. Not properly thinking through the legal implications can lead to financial repercussions or poorly gauging society's response can lead to a public backlash. Your PR stunt needs to be flawless for the sake of your budget, your reputation and your sanity.
Your team might think your idea is an exquisite stroke of PR genius, but if your client doesn’t, then good luck getting the budget to pull it off. Lexi's tips for getting client buy-in included making the idea easily communicable. You need to be able to communicate your idea in 25 words or less. Any more and you risk losing your client and their agreement. Another way to make the sign-off process smoother is to make sure your PR stunt fits into their existing frameworks. For example, can you build a page on their existing website rather than creating a new site? Not only does this lower a client's resistance to a project but it also helps you to ensure delivery is quick.
Another method for getting client buy-in for your truly outrageous stunt is to phase it. Starting small with a campaign on the site that gets results and gains your client's trust can be a springboard for the more complicated, yet newsworthy campaign you want to run. It also means the campaign can be refined and interested journalists lined up.
And finally, don’t ask for a yes, ask for consideration. Give the client space to think through your plan in their own time and allow them to ask the questions that will quell their concerns.
Once you’ve thought through your idea, planned your resources and convinced your client, you need to get down to the business of implementing the stunt. Images are critical. If you want coverage of your campaign then you need to give your journalist contacts some good pictures to use.
Stunts rarely gain publicity and backlinks straight out of the gate. Plan in launch stages to allow momentum to grow and interest to be peaked.
So there you have it. You’ve planned, resourced and agreed your campaign, so there’s nothing left than to get out and make it happen. Look forward to seeing your stunt in the news soon!