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PR stunts: are they losing their edge?

Posted by Ben Smith on 15th August 2017

Let’s play a game — think of a ‘typical’ PR stunt.

Now how many of you thought ‘creating the world’s biggest X’? How about a pop-up shop? Maybe there were a few at the back thinking flashmob while dying a little inside?

I think it’s pretty safe to say there are a number of more common types of PR stunt that we can call ‘traditional’, ‘classic’ or perhaps at least ‘tried and tested’.

However, Wildfire labs’ latest experiment, looking at what types of stunts deliver the best results, suggests that these traditional stunts are starting to get a little worn around the edges.

In our analysis, photo moment stunts ranked fifth — the only ‘classic’ PR stunt to make the top five. Equally, no experiential stunts made the top ten, and there were no examples of the world’s biggest or smallest things delivering stand-out results either.

In fact, the three least effective PR stunts were a pop-up shop, experiential event and, in plumb last, a “world’s biggest/smallest” type stunt.

Now that is not to say these stunts do not deliver results — it’s just that they are solid rather than spectacular. These stunts might generate up to 100 bits of coverage and even a few thousand social interactions, which is not to be sniffed at.

It’s just that the best stunts in our experiment delivered as much as ten times these levels.

So it’s not that a more traditional approach means an unsuccessful campaign. But it might be time to say that these types of stunts are succumbing to the law of diminishing returns.

As we pointed out in our previous post, doing something a bit unexpected can deliver outstanding results. So given that 16 of the 40 stunts we analysed were based on a more classic idea perhaps it is time for the PR industry to think about letting some of these ideas retire gracefully?

Photo credit.

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.