A PR stunt, or publicity stunt, is a planned event designed to generate media coverage for a product, service, individual or organization. Publicity stunts often raise awareness about an issue, garner attention for a cause or create controversy and buzz around a brand.

What are publicity stunts?

PR stunts are events created for the purpose of generating public interest and gaining media coverage for a person, product, or organization. They also can be used to launch a new product, create brand recognition and generate positive publicity.

These stunts can be small scale, like having a celebrity make an appearance on the red carpet or hosting a press conference for the launch of a new product. They can also be large-scale events that involve hundreds or thousands of people and create a spectacle that is hard to ignore. Common examples of large-scale public stunts include creating an immersive experience, such as a flash mob or pop up event, or performing wild demonstrations, like skywriting with an airplane.

What are the benefits of publicity stunts?

Publicity stunts can be extremely effective in generating attention for a product, service, individual or organization. Not only do they bring awareness to the public eye and can potentially create a long-term buzz, but they can also be relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional marketing campaigns. Additionally, they are often more memorable than other forms of advertising because of their unexpected nature and showmanship.

Furthermore, stunts provide an opportunity to engage with the public in an interactive and fun way, which can lead to more emotional connections between people and the brand. Finally, these stunts are often shared widely on social media platforms as people post pictures and videos of their experiences with the event. This can result in even more visibility for the stunt and ultimately create a much larger reach than originally intended.

How do you measure the success of the publicity stunt?

The success of a PR stunt can be measured in various ways, depending on the goal. If the overall goal is to increase brand awareness or launch a new product, then the success can be determined by looking at press coverage and social media engagement metrics like likes, shares, comments or views.

For stunts that are focused on creating buzz around an issue or cause, then the success can be measured by looking at the number of people who attended and interacted with the stunt. Additionally, you can also measure success by looking at how much money was raised for a charity or how many signatures were collected for a petition.

Examples of publicity stunts in history

Publicity stunts have been used for centuries and can range from the outrageous to the subtle.

Here are a few famous examples:

  • In 1903, The Wright Brothers flew their plane over the beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, performing the world’s first successful powered flight and garnering worldwide attention.
  • In 1969, stuntman Evel Knievel attempted to jump across the Snake River Canyon on a rocket-powered cycle, though he ultimately failed and survived with only minor scrapes.
  • In 1998, an artist in London placed a giant polar bear statue on top of the iconic Marble Arch monument in order to draw attention to climate change.

These examples demonstrate how publicity stunts can generate significant attention and leave a mark on the world.

How to plan a PR stunt

Planning a successful PR stunt requires strategic thinking and careful planning. You would need to know the logistics of the stunt, and have a concise plan on how you will promote it.

Ask yourself and know the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the goal of the stunt?
  • Who is your target audience?
  • Where will the location be and does it have maximum visibility?
  • What are potential risks?
  • How will be measure success? What are the KPIs?
  • Is your PR team prepared to handle any media inquires?
  • Do you need a legal team in case any issues arise as a result of the stunt?

In Conclusion

Ultimately, when done right, publicity stunts are an effective way to draw attention to a brand or cause and create an impactful experience for the public. They can also be relatively inexpensive compared to traditional advertising methods, so they are worth considering as part of any overall PR strategy.