1. BE THE FIRST
Being the first, the biggest, the tallest, the loudest or the one-and-only is naturally newsworthy. So think big, be original and break a record while you’re at it. When Target needed an unexpected, buzz-generating spring break stunt, we built the first ice rink on the beach – ever. The activation generated more than 50,000 touches and an avalanche of press and promotional radio exposure. Yes, being first is a good as it sounds.
2. GET A GIMMICK
You can pull all the stops out, ‘til they call the cops out, but you’ve gotta have a gimmick if you want to get some press. Just make sure it’s a gimmick that harmonizes with your brand’s identity and resonates with your target audience. During a multi-city, cross-country tour with CONAN, we used the most obvious hook of all – Conan’s trademark orange pompadour. We created a photo booth that put Conan’s hair on fans’ heads then made the photos into wearable buttons. Fans could also share their goofy Conan shots on social. We turned a strategic hook into a massive viral campaign, with the client’s message front and center.
3. MEET THE PRESS
When it comes to publicity stunts, timing can make or break you. Consider news cycles when planning an event or stunt. Early in the day is good, when TV or radio morning shows are on the air and when print reporters can do the story and make deadlines easily. Another winning strategy? Leverage cultural events with a built-in press presence. In other words, fish where the fish are. Bring your event to the press. We did a stunt for TBS at US Post Offices on National Tax Day. Because the media stakes out Post Offices on April 14, we were virtually guaranteed coverage. The TBS stunts touched thousands in the field and millions more on national and local news. We used the same approach for Target at the Winter Olympics. We connected to the zeitgeist of the games by handing out traditional noisemakers used for cheering on downhill skiers. In other words, old-fashioned cowbells-branded with the Target bull’s-eye. The cameras couldn’t miss them. Those bells were EVERYWHERE. They even made the cover of Women’s Wear Daily.
4. GET LUCKY
Luck isn’t something you can engineer. Luck happens. But if the planets align, luck can catapult your promotion into the media stratosphere. We once ran a Willy Wonka style promotion for a famous retailer, placing “golden tickets” in select boxes of their signature chocolates. Early in the game, a customer found a large sum of money in a store dressing room and was rewarded for her honesty with a complimentary box of chocolates. Inside that box was (you guessed it) a $10,000 winning ticket. Boom! The press went wild. The story was picked up by major news outlets across the country – including CBS Morning News and NPR National Radio – and across the pond on the BBC. Sales of the chocolates shot up by 150%. We had a strong promotion. Luck made it glorious.
5. CREATE VISUAL DRAMA
Oh snap! A great publicity stunt almost always makes a great photo. Create an emotional, funny, interesting visual story that can be understood at a glance and easily described in a sentence. We once walked 15 Bull’s-eye Target dogs down the streets of Hollywood as part of bigger promotion. Click. Click. Click.
6. SHOOT YOURSELF
You can’t count on luck, or the press, so make it a rule to cover your own events with professional video and photography. We recently executed a 10 city tour for BET’s Apollo Live series, taping the amateur talent performances at each stop. We posted the videos on the network’s social media sites, generating millions of media impressions for the show.
7. SHARE THE STORY
Having your publicity plan ready to execute within minutes of the stunt’s completion is an absolute must. The key is to move fast! A press release covers a lot of ground, and influencer outreach is critical. You can also offer exclusives to major or regional media outlets to create a surge of post-stunt promotion. Lastly, be ready to “use your own air,” spreading the story over your website and social media channels. Fast and nimble wins the race.