It’s everyone’s favorite part about PR even if they don’t realize it. Stunts & activations are the cool kid at recess that somehow convince everyone to form a bike gang. You aren’t sure how it all started, but suddenly you’ve got a permanent marker tattoo of a cupcake & afternoon plans for the rest of your life. Just me?... What I’m trying to say is that these events have charisma!
A PR or publicity stunt is an event designed to get people talking about something (a brand, an event, an idea, etc.). An activation is an event designed to engage people with a brand in an unexpected way. They’re variations on a theme & the theme is engagement!
If you’ve ever seen a flash mob promoting an upcoming event or visited a booth at a trade-show where you tested out a prototype, you’ve witnessed one of these bad boys in action. In fact, many ads nowadays are merely footage from a stunt (or made to look like it was). I’m looking at you Dove’s “Real Beauty Campaign.” Sometimes, stunts are so successful that they become mainstays in popular culture (read: Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade & Tour de France).
Here are some of the ways stunts & activations help your brand:
Did I pique your interest yet? To get your creative juices flowing some more, here are some examples I just pulled out of thin air…
º Scenario: You’re a non-profit that promotes walkable neighborhoods & you want to get people’s attention about an upcoming ordinance vote.
Here’s what you do: Get a team of volunteers to canvass the streets at night drawing chalk outlines of bodies throughout major intersections. Give your best press contacts the heads up so they can cover the mysterious happenings the next morning. When interviewed, supply relevant stats & give a clear way people can get involved (ex: show up at the council meeting next Tuesday @ 6 pm*).
º Scenario: You’re one of the thousand new meal delivery services that’s trying to stand out from the crowd.
Here’s what you do: Open a fake, pop-up restaurant. When people come into your fake restaurant, you take them directly to the kitchen to prepare their meal using your product, of course. Who do you invite? Media, influencers, that charismatic bike gang leader - you get the point.
º Scenario: You’re a financial service targeting millennials & you want them to start talking about retirement.
Here’s what you do: Create a “retirement oasis” in a high-trafficked business area. Invite young professionals to come “get a taste of retired life.” Have them sit in a lounge chair, give them a frozen drink & even let them sink their feet in the sand. Bonus points if you have a steel drum band playing. Right when they’re nice & relaxed, ask them what their current retirement strategy is. Either they’re taking steps to secure their future, or they get escorted to their actual retirement - a grey room where they’re asked to do some tedious task or prepare a month’s budget with next to no money. Of course, advisors are on hand to chat about how they can make it to their alternate reality retirement. It’s all very Sliding Doors.*
Whatever the idea is, the trick to success is a focused objective and strategic delivery. It’s the details that kill a good idea. Think about how the idea plays into your broader strategy. Be prepared to back up your attention-grabbing display with some seriously focused messaging. Beat your idea around until it’s foolproof. But whatever you do, BE BOLD! Bland is brand poison.
* If you don’t get the Sliding Doors reference, you should be ashamed of yourself.
** Don’t try this at home, kids. These kinds of events (mainly stunts) are riddled with potential pitfalls. But it doesn’t mean you can’t DIY most of it. Just make sure a competent PR person is part of the planning.
I’m no stranger to this question. I grew up the baby in a big family & I’m now raising 5 kids of my own. I learned early on that you better have a quick comeback to that inquiry. For my brothers, that question is intended only to throw you off your game. So, like most things in love & war & big families, I used wit to outsmart my opponents.
Hunger Games analogies aside, this question looms large in the business world as well. It’s silence makes it all the more powerful. Successful communicators know that their reply must be prepared and focused.
See, the thing is...
if you’re talking to everyone, no one is listening.
So how do you know who you’re talking to? There isn’t an organization alive today that doesn’t have multiple target audiences plus many others that should be their customers plus everyone that influences those people’s decisions. Phew!
Let’s begin to map out the details. A few key points to keep in mind:
Now let’s figure out who these people are! This worksheet has some important questions to get you thinking about who you really are talking to.
Figuring out who you’re talking to (or should be) is the first step to any marketing attempt. Join us at any of our upcoming workshops where we will guide you through this worksheet & others.
I love a good underdog.
Maybe it’s because I’m the youngest (and only girl) in a family of 4. Maybe it’s because I’m a serial entrepreneur. Maybe it’s because I was raised by Saints fans. Whatever it is, I’ve always seen the potential in the scrappy little guy.
Don’t get me wrong, orchestrating PR for big brands is exciting, but it became clear that the people who needed our help the most were the ones doing it all on their own.
Business owners that are always wondering if they’re doing it right...
Professional marketers that have a billion hats to wear and need to work smarter…
Non-profits that are trying to do everything with limited resources…
These are my people!!
There’s so much potential and SO MUCH need for good strategy.
So we decided to launch a series of workshops to arm people with the tools they need to DIY their marketing without wasting time and wallowing in doubt.
We chose the name “make+do” because unlike your typical sit-and-listen-type classes, this is more. Sure, participants learn the important stuff, but they also make individualized plans, then (here’s the important part) MAKE IT HAPPEN! So I guess “learn+make+do” would have been more accurate but not as zippy.
These ain’t ya momma’s marketing classes. We call them “hands-on, brains-on” because it’s an all-in kind of experience.
Communicate effectively. Save time and money. Feel confident in your decisions.
Join us for one of our upcoming workshops! We'd love to have you!
That new car smell, an empty planner, a healthy Monday after a grease and carb-filled weekend ... there's just something about starting over that shoots a little or a log of dopamine into my system. Anybody else?
When Abi came to me with the Make+Do Workshops idea, it felt so right and consistent with my personal resolutions/goals. It's professional, obviously, but it culminates everything that I've listed personally. When someone says "it's business, not personal," I only agree to a point. For an entrepreneur, business is personal. I pour my heart, soul, energy, and money into my PR Agency Ninety-Two West. It bleeds into family life, how patient I am with my children, how I take care of my health, how much I get to see friends, whether or not I'm working on vacation, and so on. Trust me. It's personal.
Here's the list of my personal 2018 Goals and tactics (because every marketer has tactics to make goals happen :)). Notice ... it's almost all business.
1. More health. Less stress.
What are your goals and resolutions? Have any that I can steal?
- Laurie Driggs Fontenot
Laurie Driggs Fontenot