PR Stunts: The Great, Good and Really Ugly

What is one of the most affordable and effective ways to drive PR? Create and implementing a “stunt”. The stunt has been used by companies big and small to generate publicity and the more creative the better.

However…before you decide to run down the street wearing nothing but your company logo…..much consideration needs to be put into a PR stunt. Will it work? Does it connect the consumer to the brand? How will people react? Will it be something people remember? Even when a stunt goes bad it can generate publicity, but possibly at the cost of your company becoming a laughing stock amongst consumers and marketing professionals.

The PR value of a successful stunt is priceless – that’s why everyone tries to do them. From the Boston Tea Party and magician David Blaine, Topeka, KS renaming itself Google, KS to the most famous stuntsters of all, Barnum and Bailey. If you sit to think about it I bet you can come up with at least 10 stunts that made small companies or brands. Here’s a great list of 50 Top PR Stunts.

Yet, for every stunt attempted and completed successfully there are many that simply crash and burn.  I, personally, think that it’s important to know the worst PR stunts so you can learn from them (Apparently, no one wants to focus on them because there is not a complete list found online.  Something I plan to remedy, because they are particularly important for small business.  You have a limited budget and one chance). One company that won’t be doing a PR stunt for some time is Xbox

Recently, Xbox created a stunt to take place in New Zealand is the perfect example of why you really need to think about what you’re doing before doing it. The stunt went terribly, and I mean, terribly wrong! It’s also important to remember that just because you think it’s a good idea doesn’t always mean it is. Ask trusted people for their advice.

A marketing stunt to promote a video game sparked an armed police callout after an actor pointed a fake gun at terrified pubgoers in Auckland’s Viaduct Basin.

About 20 revellers drinking outside Degree bar dived for cover after the promotions worker threatened them with a black imitation pistol about 8pm on Friday.

Witnesses said they heard someone shout “he’s got a gun” and outdoor drinkers dived behind their tables.

Degree manager Steph Kurtovich said: “This guy with bandages on his hands pointed a gun at customers sitting outside. They were pretty terrified.”

The stunt, to promote the release of Xbox title Splinter Cell Evolution, was condemned by police.

Read more….

What makes a great PR Stunt? A quick checklist:

  1. Does it communicate the brand?
  2. Does it communicate the messages you want to get across?
  3. For small businesses, what’s the cost? Is it within budget?
  4. Is it fun and unique?
  5. Will it capture people’s attention?
  6. Where will you do the stunt? – City Center
  7. How long will the stunt last? – two hours over lunch
  8. How will people react?
  9. Who’s going to call the media to let them know?
  10. Are you ready to deal with the possible influx of business that comes with generating so much PR? You better get staffed, stocked and ready.

Have you done a PR stunt to promote your business? Tell me about them and I’ll include in a future post “Real PR Stunts for Real Business.”

Jennifer Fortney
Cascade Communications
Twitter:  @SmallBizPRXpert, @MyStorySource

2 Responses to “PR Stunts: The Great, Good and Really Ugly”
  1. BURN LIST says:

    Ohh that is pretty sweeet. Thanks for sharing. Nice to see a cool site again in this industry.


  2. smallbizexperts says:

    Thanks! We’ve been working the last year and half to offer good information in a hip way. We appreciate you following our blog and stay tuned…..there’s more about to come on Small Business Daily!!

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