People often do the craziest things for coverage by the press. Since it’s easy in today’s digital world to get famous, most businesses use positive coverage, and numerous times, it proves to be a game-changer for them, especially when done right. In simple terms, for the sake of an extreme spike in popularity, top brands use PR stunts.

These stunts could be used as an inspiration for various purposes. It could be to create brand awareness, boost sales, or simply remind people of their existence in the market.

Table of contents

What is a PR Stunt?

In the simplest terms, a stunt is something done to get the attention of the public. To develop positive relationships with the public, customers, and stakeholders, organizations use strategic communication processes considered stunts.

In other words, combined with public relations, a stunt is any event or a sustained activity staged primarily for gaining attention in the press.

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How Do Publicity Stunts Work?

Consider a known aphorism by a famous business owner that states:

…there are lies, damn lies, and advertising…

That’s the whole inference behind the intention of businesses to use stunts. The primary motive behind the idea is coverage by the press and to remain active in front of the targeted customers.

To understand the working principle of PR, it is essential to understand the term public relations first.

PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutual relationships between entrepreneurs or organizations and also manages to raise awareness among the public.

How PR works depends on numerous factors and majorly on the public relations practitioner and his methods to build relationships.

Here are some ways of maintaining excellent public relations and getting the needed coverage in the press.

Media Coverage

Making the news is the most appropriate and the fastest method to attract the right customers. If someone thinks any publicity is great publicity, this might be true for the short term.

Numerous fading stars and celebrities perform cheap activities to get in the audience’s eyes, but the results mostly come in the form of distrust and distaste and put off audiences.

For successful stunts, the hired professionals apply strategies to garner positive news coverage and enhance their relationships with their targeted customers. News and stories are often more effective than advertising as these garner coverage by media which ultimately offers more significant ROIs.

Active Spokesperson

The company’s selected leader and spokesperson play an essential role in developing relations with the public. It is crucial to provide these people with the proper training to interact with the news agencies.

A polished spokesperson handles adverse situations appropriately and holds on to positive statements. These positive measures help the company to get over a crisis such as a corporate meltdown.

Other ways to enhance public relationships include scheduling speaking engagements for company leaders, earning rewards, social media management, and reputation management. PR won’t work without relationships, and therefore, to grow a company, different strategies have to be applied through multiple channels.

6 Epic Publicity Stunts That Made History

The world is full of wildly creative people, and businesses pay trained people to develop strategies and plan bold stunts. Have a look at some of the best examples of epic PR stunts that went down in history and gained extreme coverage by media.

The New Moon Event

On March 20, 2018, Los Angeles witnessed a surprising and epic PR stunt strategized by Red Bull. Known for its outlandish events and magnificent parties, the organization hosted a New Moon Party in the city where people performed crazy jumps from the city’s tallest buildings with only the assistance of wingsuits.

However, they hadn’t announced this stunt to the public and many people started to worry about meteors and UFOs making their way down to earth.

Consequences: This epic publicity stunt by Red Bull was a good example of daring, excitement, thrill, and adventure. The headlines called the event an attempt of intensity and braveness. This event proved extremely popular in the industry and cemented the brand’s image as being wild and bold.

The Craziest Dating Got Immense Media Attention

Dozens of men were surprised in New York City after noticing that they were all invited to the same date on Tinder. Performed by a woman to complete a dating competition in 2018, the epic stunt remained in the news for a long time. This low-cost ad campaign also managed to poke fun at other dating apps.

Consequences: Tinder successfully gained massive global coverage, and the stunt had become viral. This is one of the publicity stunts that also managed to draw media coverage to women empowerment.

A Creative Ad

KFC is a well-known fast-food brand, and to develop public relations, the co-founder of the company had created an advertisement in 2016 that was said to be visible from space.

Google captured the moment by putting the cosmic idea to its official blog site and Google Maps, through which KFC received outrageous marketing. This was a great example of going out of the box and improving brand image.

Consequences: Several KFC outlets received coverage by the local news after strategizing this stunt. It also managed to draw attention to the image of the brand among the targeted customers.

Uber’s Publicity Stunt to Offer Helicopter Rides

In 2012, Uber surprised the transportation world by offering promotional helicopter rides to its users. The company was looking to reward people by offering chartered helicopter rides to enjoy the pleasant views of beaches from New York City to Hamptons.

uber helicopter
From Uber

This campaign was responsible for creating a buzz and was able to raise money to help the companies revenue grow.

Consequences: The unique idea delivered tremendous growth to Uber’s brand popularity as many claimed that the organization was taking its services to dizzying heights of success.

SUV Completed the Fastest Barrel Roll

During the launch of the first midsized SUV by luxury automaker, Jaguar, the company showed the immense strength and capability of the sedan to the entire universe.

Their very own SUV had captured everyone’s attention by completing the fastest barrel role in a vehicle. This showed their marketing ability as they were able to create something amazing.

Consequences: Jaguar proved the aphorism, “Possible also hides in the word impossible” by completing this marketing stunt. The awe-inspiring event forced people to grit their teeth, knowing how rugged the new SUV is.

An Attempt to Enjoy a Sky Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Considered as one of the prominent experts of successful stunts worldwide, Richard Branson, the CEO of Virgin Airlines, had attempted to fly around the world in a hot air balloon, which made the headlines for a long time. This also helped promote his brand.

Consequences: This stunt ended with a crash, and it got more coverage since everyone loves a high profile accident. Everyone was presuming that the stunt would prove to be a drawback, but luckily it proved to the entire world that airways are perfectly safe for globetrotters.

The right professional advice can deliver more thoughtful and beautiful ideas and help in creating a successful stunt. An agency with the right expertise in the field can deliver great ideas to hit the message and get the right audience’s attention. This, however, needs to be planned from conception to fruition with a lot of precision and care to ensure it does not backfire.

What Makes a Good PR Stunt?

Unlike other advertising methods and marketing strategies, PR stunts should be strategized to clarify the targeted audience. It is almost impossible to predict the result of any stunt, and if anything goes wrong, the result could backfire or damage the company’s reputation.

This is why the campaign objectives should be clear, and all possible results should be thoroughly analyzed. Every organization should consider some significant factors while strategizing a PR stunt.

Purpose and Intent

It doesn’t matter how clever the idea behind performing a stunt is if its purpose is not to get much attention or serve a larger purpose. It is crucial to keep in mind the buyers’ persona and strategize the message behind the stunt accordingly.

Analyze the Risks of Results

Performing stunts bring about the possibility of adverse effects instead of developing positive relations. Hence, every business should actively analyze all the possible results before strategizing any stunt and bear all the possible consequences.

Tone and Current Environment

Businesses should ensure the stunt has a familiar tone by considering the current environment scenario. The strategies can prove to be more successful if organizations are ready to tap into diverse experiences.

Perfect Timing

Timing is the critical factor to ride the wave of the more considerable impact on the audience by hitting the message with different impacts on the market.

A Thorough Check for Fact and Sense

A sensible PR stunt always delivers more success as all of its aspects and facts remain clear. The target customers get the right message and want to get close to develop relations with the organization. 

The wrong message to different cultures or languages during translation can cause damage to the reputation of the company. Therefore, it is essential to check twice before sending out the message.

How Do You Pull Off a PR Stunt?

To positively impact the targeted customers, it is vital to develop a strategy when planning to pull off a PR stunt. A choice to connect with non-traditional new coverage always offers better results. Hence, it is crucial to take professional public relations help to develop relations with people waiting to fall in love with your brand.

Consider some of the best PR stunts below and the wonderful strategies planned by top brands in different sectors. This is how they have shown the entire world how epic and crazy a stunt can be.