Traditionally, publicity stunts have had a negative connotation attached to them with many people associating this type of event with being a cheap stunt to gain attention. While the goal of a publicity stunt is in fact to bring attention and awareness to a client, it is by no means a cheap trick. An effectively crafted publicity stunt has the potential of gaining widespread attention from the media due to it’s shocking/creative nature, making it both an effective and a necessary tactic employed by professionals working within the public relations field. With publicity stunts having so much potential to impact a client’s image, stunts must be carefully and strategically designed so that the goal of the stunt is completely clear and also so that the intended message of stunt is communicated effectively.
Workplace well-being expert Michelle McQuaid took advantage of the benefits of a publicity stunt when she launched her title about bad bosses called “5 Ways To Tell Your Boss To Go F#$@ Themselves!” MMG helped her place a dunk tank in the
middle of Wall Street and we provided employees with an opportunity to dunk their “bad” boss. The event was created to help bring awareness to McQuaid’s research and findings regarding the negative behaviors of bad bosses in America and the consequences bad bosses can cause within the workplace. Beginning at 5 A.M. on National Boss Day, commuters were able to dunk a symbolic bad boss at the Bowling Green pedestrian walkway in the heart of the financial district in New York City. McQuaid was on site at the event, providing her expert analysis to those who happened to be dealing with a bad boss. Michelle’s event garnered widespread media coverage from major media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Market Watch, Forbes, Fox News, and also included an exclusive in-studio interview between Good Day New York and Michelle. Oh and Fox anchor Lauren Simonetti reported every segment that day from the site — and ended each report with a toss at the tank!!
Another example of an effective publicity stunt that recently took place –the Quaker Oats Bring Your Own Bowl launch event which was held in New York City. The iconic oatmeal brand, which is seeking to revamp its image and increase consumer excitement, recently announced it would be holding a nationwide contest where participants would have the opportunity to win $250,000 by coming up with an inspiring Quaker’s next oatmeal flavor. On January 13, Quaker Oats set up a big inflatable Quaker Oats canister in the middle of Times Square, inviting people to participate in the event. Quaker invited participants to enter the canister, make their own oatmeal and then submit, try, and share their own original oatmeal recipes with one another. Participants were also encouraged to share via #BringYourBestBowl.
Holding a contest that engages with a company’s consumer base, is an excellent PR strategy and an effective way to gain the attention of the media. Quaker Oat’s Bring Your Best Bowl publicity stunt serves as a strong example of how a contest or sweepstakes can be a key strategy when designing a creative publicity stunt that stands out. By definition, a publicity stunt should never be boring or safe, but instead, PR professionals should always try to push the limits and design stunts that are unique and have a certain amount of shock value. Always keep in mind that the entire point of any publicity stunt, is generate attention and coverage from the media and to communicate a specific message to the public.