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The 2024 State of the Media Report

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Alister's tHOUGHTs ON... PR stunts

What’s your favourite PR stunt? Perhaps more interestingly, why is it your favourite stunt? Was it clever? Outrageous? Beautifully simple in its execution?

As a tactic to generate a quick hit of media coverage, the PR stunt is unrivalled. Whether it’s sticking a giant Jeff Goldblum up on the South Bank, or unveiling  your illegally branded underpants after scoring a goal, there’s something satisfying about seeing a well-executed stunt garner reems of coverage.

Like all great examples of storytelling, PR campaigns are all about drawing an emotional response from an audience. A stunt can draw out a range of emotions in a second, from shock, outrage and amusement all the way through to delight and sadness.

A stunt’s place in a new comms world

However, PR and comms are disciplines which extend far beyond media relations. In an era of integrated campaigns and demonstrating ROI, is the stunt now a homage to a bygone era where success was simply measured by the amount of coverage you got? Are stunts, dare I say, old-fashioned?

That’s certainly not a question I can answer, but thankfully, we’ve got two agency leaders who can shed some light on where PR stunts sit in the new comms landscape.

Rich Leigh, founder of Radioactive PR, is such a lover of PR stunts that he set up a website to chronicle them; He’s also produced some stunts of his own, including this advertisement on a bin lorry which mimics the infamous Vote Leave bus.

Tin Man founder and CEO Mandy Sharp centres her agency on communicating across disciplines with heart. They’re also not averse to running imaginative stunts, including the Buckets of hope activation for Wateraid and placing a giant fatberg on the South Bank for healthcare service Thriva.

P.S. For all of those wondering, my favourite PR stunt is Sony Music floating a Michael Jackson statue down the Thames to promote his new album. Any stunt which creates a whole genre must be at the top!

Alister Houghton

Alister Houghton is UK Content Marketing Manager at Cision, writing and commissioning thought leadership, interviews and opinion pieces covering the earned media, marketing and journalism spheres. As well as working in a variety of roles across the business, he has previously managed media and web content for the British American Football Association.