Many clients ask us to make them stand out, get noticed and create a bit of a stir; often, they are keen to have a bit of fun with PR or create a campaign that will tie in social media too, and maybe even ‘go viral’. Even so, often we find that things start to get a little uncomfortable as soon as we bring up the ‘s’ word; stunt.
Not only are PR stunts often perceived as a lot of work (though that’s for us to worry about!), they are also seen to be expensive; the kind of thing best left to the big, established brands with the big, established budgets. Although there’s nothing wrong with a big ticket stunt, this kind of PR activity isn’t dependent on having lots of zeroes on the end of your budget. In fact, a smaller budget can actually result in a better stunt, because the whole premise behind this sort of campaign is almost always pinned on creativity, originality and spontaneity.
Having a big budget can often make a creative mind a little bit lazy, opting for the pricy tried-and-tested, safe methods instead of pushing the boat out with something experimental. There’s something intrinsically far more exciting about winging it on a shoestring, doing something simple and attention seeking. Plus, when it works, the ROI figures are the stuff dreams are made off.
Here are our top tips on how to plan an awesome stunt, without having to unearth tens of thousands of pounds (or more) to give it a whirl…
- 1.Go back to basics – you don’t need a unicorn jumping through a burning hoop in order to make an impact (though that would certainly do the job). People are easily impressed, if you catch them at the right moment in the right way. It only takes something little to brighten up a person’s day and stick in their mind.
- 2.Don’t ask too much – we have short attention spans and life is generally pretty busy in our time-poor culture, so don’t expect people to give lots of their time or effort to contribute to an overcomplicated campaign. Engagement is completely possible, but it’s much more likely when it’s short and sweet and there are plenty of rewards for taking part.
- 3. Target, target, target – you can’t handpick every single person that will engage with your stunt, but you can be clever about the planning to ensure that you’re likely to get the attention of the people you want and avoid wasting it on others. Think about your audience in depth; where they are, what they’re doing, what they read, how they consume their news, when they are most open to engage and then base your stunt on this information in a way that will play out best for those requirements.
- 4.Consider all channels – stunts can take many forms, from physical stunts out in the real world through to spoof video content or digital tweaks to a website. A really good example of this is the Facebook Pirate campaign, whereby users had the chance to translate their Facebook into Pirate language. This was really brilliant; it was genuinely entertaining and great fun, it was very easy to engage with and word spread really quickly. It didn’t cost a lot, but it did make headlines – and created a feel-good impact with Facebook users.
- 5.Respect your audience – any PR campaigns, cross-platform or traditional, big budget or low budget, B2B or B2C, need to pay their audience the ultimate respect. Don’t try to have a laugh at your target market’s expense, mask a blatant sales pitch or pull the wool over their eyes; it’s not going to make you very popular. While it’s ok to be mischevious and have fun, even to take the target market by surprise, at the end of the stunt they should come away feeling positive about your brand and themselves as potential consumers. We live in a very marketing-savvy culture, so don’t underestimate them. Oasis is an example of a brand getting the message totally right with some fantastic marketing that created a buzz in itself, because it recognises that it’s ad-savvy audience isn’t going to fall for marketing spiel. Its campaign is funny, refreshingly honest and respectful – which is the key to its success.
- 6.But is it newsworthy? – this is the question we PRs live by. You can’t put lipstick on a pig and you can’t put a spin on pure fluff. You need substance. There has to be a news hook; and not just ‘this company is doing this’. If you want headlines, you need a campaign that deserves them. Make sure your campaign is funny, poignant, unexpected, meaningful… anything, as long as it’s something! If you’re churning out the same old thing, done lots of times before, with no real message of interest behind it, it’s going to make for a very hard sell-in when you come to contact the news desks. Having a look at the kind of things they have covered before can help, and always ask yourself if you would write about the stunt if you were a journalist hearing about it for the first time.
A good stunt done well is usually down to exceptional research and planning, lots of brainstorming and flawless organisation. It doesn’t have to be a big, showy affair but, regardless of the budget, it does have to be well thought-out.
And if you need any more help, come to us! ????