3 Things to Know Before Executing a PR Stunt


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This year has been full of Public Relations stunts, ranging from the IHOP name change to Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon launch. Many of these PR stunts were amazingly successful, luring any brand to want a part of this fame for their own products. Before your brand executes a PR stunt, consider these three tips.

Considering the Brand Image

Before executing campaigns, it is important to understand the brand’s image and its online personalities. Successful brands plan long-run campaigns consistent with existing brand materials. The use of humor must be carefully considered before incorporated, as humor is often skewed through text and guided towards a specific target audience. A great example of utilizing humor in brand communications is Taco Bell’s Twitter. Taco Bell’s Twitter not only has celebrity friends but also is confident in their late-night taco-craving alter ego. Lastly, brands must carefully design campaigns targeted towards their intended demographic, reaching them through most efficient platforms. For example, social media campaigns are great for targeting Millennials and Generation Z while traditional media outlets are powerful for reaching Baby Boomers and Generation Y.

Understanding Earned Media

The PESO model outlines paid, earned, shared and owned media for brands. Conducting a PR stunt often utilizes owned media to spark interest and highlight the main purpose of the campaign, but relies on shared media to reach a larger audience and gain traction. Social media is the main driver behind sustaining campaigns and maintaining momentum. However, the biggest drawback of shared media is its lack of control over the content and sentiment once the campaign is shared. With the integration of social media into our daily lives, the power of social media has increased beyond imagination. Although no press is bad press, brands should keep in mind social trends and triggers, steering clear of offensive language and materials. It may be helpful to employ a PR team or advisor to proofread and edit materials pre-publishing.

Measuring Campaign Success

Campaigns should have a clear call to action at its core. Companies will not want to invest money into PR stunts that will lead to no clear goal and benefit for the company. There are many different types of metrics to measure depending on the brand’s goal for the stunt. For example, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge circulated on Facebook was a successful stunt to increase awareness and donations for the association. Additionally, IHOP’s name change to IHOB was an outstanding example of a stunt to increase sales, as their sales quadrupled from the controversial stunt. Prior to executing a PR stunt, time your stunt strategically and decide on metrics to define success.

Public Relations stunts, when executed carefully according to brand image and measured accurately with specific goals and statistics in mind, can be wildly successful and beneficial to brands.

Belle Zhang

Belle Zhang

Having lived in two different countries growing up, Belle's understanding of the world and cultures has been greatly influenced by not only her first-hand experiences but also by the vastly different media outlets in each country. From Myspace to Weibo, Vine to Douyin, Belle puts her hands on every social media platform accessible to her and has a passion for everything creative. Belle enjoys writing about public relations and marketing trends. Belle is currently an Account Executive at BLND Public Relations as well as a graduate student studying Strategic Public Relations at the University of Southern California.