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Best PR stunts: can slim budgets still deliver big results?

Posted by Ben Smith on 4th August 2017

Stand well back and put on your safety goggles for some more fresh data from Wildfire labs’ latest experiment… As we wrote last week, our analysis of PR stunts found that staged leaks are the best PR stunts. More broadly, we also found that stunts that involve some sort of fakery perform far better on average than more ‘traditional’ stunts. Indeed, four of the top 10 stunts in our analysis relied on faking something.

Digging down into the specifics of this finding though, we also uncover an interesting aspect – some of the best-performing stunts also appear, at least superficially, to not involve the biggest budgets.

Take B&Q’s unforgettable 50 Shades of Grey memo, a staged leak alerting staff to a possible rush on ‘rope, cable ties and tape’ ahead of the film’s release. With a canny sense of timing and the judicious use of a few emails, this stunt delivered the second-highest coverage results in our analysis.

The finding that big budgets don’t necessarily mean big results is further reinforced by the fact that three of the 10 best PR stunts were from not-for-profit organisations, according to our data.

French organisation Aide Addict, which supports people struggling with alcoholism, ranked seventh in our scoring system for a campaign that was purely based on an Instagram account and some carefully curated selfies from the face of the campaign, ‘Louise’.

The second-best stunt, according to our ranking, was the NHS Blood and Transplant ‘Missing Type’ campaign. At its heart, the campaign is essentially a photo moment campaign par excellence. Again, no expensive bells and whistles, just a well-judged campaign that struck a chord with a broad set of audiences, which was executed to a tee.

All this goes to show that you really don’t have to spend a fortune on a stunt to make a splash. What matters is developing an idea that resonates – even if means doing something a little bit unexpected. Throwing money at the brief is no guarantee of success.

There’s plenty more insight to come from the labs team on PR stunts, so stay tuned. Of course, if you missed it last week, make sure you check out the full experiment 3 video.

Ben Smith

Ben’s deep knowledge of sectors as diverse as electronics and IT, cleantech and medtech means he has a wide range of experience to draw on for his clients – ensuring that no two campaigns are the same. Ben’s expertise lies in helping his clients to raise their profiles beyond trade media and he has a proven track record in running campaigns that deliver coverage in national, business and consumer publications.