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WHAT THINGS COULD GO WRONG WITH YOUR COMPANY’S PUBLICITY STUNTS




Let’s face it: the perennial popularity of TV ‘blooper’ shows and, well, YouTube clips of people falling over and mishaps in general, shows that we love to see otherwise immaculately presented people getting things wrong. Provided that no one gets hurt, planned activities going awry can be a source of entertainment in itself. 

Having said all that, if there’s one category of “things going wrong” that can have even the most ardent You’ve Been Framed! fan covering their eyes, it’s when a brand gets something wrong. 

That applies even more so when the brand in question was specifically aiming at a PR stunt. And if it was to happen to your brand… well, you would probably be left wanting the earth to swallow you whole. 

Even with all the inherent risks, though, PR stunts remain popular among the many brand activation campaign ideasout there – perhaps because of how positively impactful they can be when the given brand gets it right. 

However, as you have probably sensed from the title of this article, we aren’t chiefly concerned in this piece with things going right, but things going wrong. So, let’s take you through some of the things that could go wrong with your own company’s PR stunts, to help put you in a better position to avoid them if you’re currently planning a publicity stunt. 

Malfunctioning technology 

If the publicity stunt that you are organising is intended to achieve a certain visual effect for all those people who you hope will be stood nearby taking photos and video with their phones to share on social media, you won’t want a vital component to fail or break. Otherwise, the failure will become the story when people then talk about it. 

Every little aspect of your publicity stunt will need to be just right. That will include having backup plans in place for whatever could go wrong, even if it’s something as simple as a screen failing to display an image. 

Someone’s health – or even life – being put at risk 

Whether it’s someone sampling your product at your promo event and being made ill in the process, or someone trying to pull off a spectacular physical stunt that could imperil life and limb if anything malfunctions, this is another risk that you will need to intricately plan for, and guard against. 

It’s a sound principle that if the PR stunt you’re putting together is one that could seriously risk someone’s health and life, you really need to come up with a better way of attracting attention for your brand. 

The stunt breaking the law 

Presumably, your brand is a responsible one that wouldn’t ever deliberately set out to break the law with whatever you are planning, but lawbreaking could end up happening nonetheless. 

Ignorance of the law in whichever jurisdiction you’re holding a PR stunt in is, of course, no excuse. So, this is something else that you will have to carefully research and plan for, to make sure any headlines and social media comment your stunt attracts is not of the embarrassing variety.

The stunt being too out of synch with your brand image and values 

If you’re planning a PR stunt, it is crucial to think about the likely response to that stunt from the audiences that you most value. And of course, your own already-treasured brand values will play heavily into this, especially in an era when such themes as social responsibility and sustainability are stated principles for many organisations. 

A classic example of this is when a company tries to use a PR stunt to give itself “street cred” that it has no real chance of getting; consumers can quickly sniff out inauthenticity from a brand. 

The PR stunt simply being boring 

For those of you who believe in the adage “any publicity is good publicity”, this might be one of the biggest things that could go wrong with any kind of PR stunt. 

You won’t want the PR stunt that your brand executes to elicit such responses as “I saw [X brand] do that, and they did it better”, “what’s this for again?”, or “why would I care about this?” 

So, during the planning stage, you will need to think scrupulously about such things as what your objective is for the PR stunt beyond simply generating brand awareness. You will also need to ask yourself why you are looking to do the given PR stunt now, and how you will keep audiences entertained after that initial moment of capturing their attention.

As you can see from all the above, there is certainly a lot that can go wrong with a PR stunt. Having said that, the potential benefits of PR stunts being as strong as they are, they also continue to have their place among the most powerful brand activation campaign ideas. 

Is a PR stunt something that you are considering organising for your own brand? If so, you could end up being very thankful that you got in touch with our BrandWarriors prior to going ahead with it, such is our knowhow and track record in getting publicity stunts right for brands. 

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