Why PR stunts work and five of the best

3rd August 2011 by Becky0

Becky shares her favourite PR stunts and explains why PR is not simply about issuing press releases.

With the public’s demand for new, bizarre, weird, strange and offbeat stories and the continuing need for the media to offer new content in a multitude of formats, PRs need to be thinking continually about creative and novel ways to convey clients messages – the days of a simple, written press release are long gone!

Stunts can range from the effortlessly simple through to the silly and ridiculous. A close journalist friend once told me that her editor had sent her to an animal sanctuary to film a llama who would only watch ITV news – and they dedicated a whole feature to it, interviewing owners, trainers and even the llama itself! Crazy!

Here I take a look at five of the best PR stunts which have achieved significant media cut-through and really got people’s tongues wagging.

1. KFC Face from Space

To communicate the revamp of one of the world’s best known logos; fast-food giant KFC created an 87,500 square feet picture of founder, Colonel Sanders in the Nevada desert. It took 24 days to create.

2. Extreme Scrabble

Extreme Scrabble

To celebrate the brand’s 60th birthday, Scrabble mobilised their fans and asked them to share their passion for playing the board game. Scrabble then released images of extreme scrabble play, which included two sky divers playing scrabble mid-jump.

3. Director of Fun

Director of Fun

The National Railway Museum (NRM) in the UK hired a six year old as its ‘director of fun.’ Six-year-old Sam Pointon wrote to the National Rail Museum and applied to replace retiring director Andrew Scott. In his application Sam wrote: “I have an electric train track. I am good on my train track. I can control two trains at once.” Bosses were so taken with his enthusiasm they offered him the role. Now eight, he continues to ensure the NRM is a fab family day out.

4. A Cheese Odyssey

To demonstrate the time, care and passion that went into creating a West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, PRs decided to create a live webcast over MySpace and YouTube. Over a nine month period, the cheese, named ‘Weginald’, received a Valentine’s Day card, became the official mascot for the Rugby World Cup and went to Glastonbury Festival. Online viewers totalled 177,000,000 and sales of the cheese increased by 25%.

5. Get H-eady for Skegness

SO Festival Giant Heads Nottingham

To let people know about the SO Festival taking place in Skegness, fifteen giant silicone heads toured the East Midlands (yes, this one was us). Although relatively simple, the heads captured both the media and the public’s attention.

A word of warning though as you are planning your next stunt: the challenge is to preserve the message contained within it. (It often comes down to one of my favourite subjects: Semiotics)

Late surprise entry…

Really TV Launch

On the day on writing, a stunt to mark the launch of Really TV caught our imagination. I’ll leave it to the Daily Mail to explain why six bikini-clad beauties took to Oxford Street

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