While watching the Grammy Awards on Sunday, I was one of the countless people whose attention was snagged by pop star Lady Gaga’s grand entrance.
For those of you who haven’t heard about it – and I’m sure there aren’t many – she arrived in an egg, before emerging from “incubation” on stage to perform her new song “Born This Way.”
That Lady Gaga would make an incredible fashion statement at this awards show was a given, and it is always exciting to see what she and her designers will come up with next. But this time, something was different: chatter was focused not only on what she did, but why she did it. Everyone was asking the same question: “Why an egg?”
In a crowded news cycle focused on red carpet outfits and award winners, Lady Gaga succeeded in making sure that all eyes were on her, cleverly carving out a space to talk about the meaning behind her new chart-topping song. What she and her team did was successfully pull off a brilliant PR stunt: not only do I have “Born This Way” stuck in my head, but I (and people across the globe) now know all about the message and the intent of the music.
You don’t have to be a superstar to execute a great PR stunt – with the right tactics, a focused strategy and a creative approach, stunts can be amazing tools for businesses of any size that are looking to inspire a crowd and create buzz around their brand.
That said, the execution of a strong stunt is a delicate art: if done properly, the benefits can be huge, but if not, the public display could result in a PR disaster.
Here are five key questions to ask before committing to your PR stunt:
- Does your plan clearly map back to your communications objectives? Your stunt must be aligned with your current marketing strategy and planned in a way that is easy for your target audience to connect with. Don’t simply plan a spectacle to get your brand attention: you must have a goal, and you have to ensure the design of your stunt will help achieve that goal.
- Is it newsworthy? The way to achieve real results with your plan is to engage with the media, so your stunt has to tie back to something timely: whether it is an event, a piece of news, or an announcement on behalf of your brand.
- Will it be accessible? The fast route to a failed PR stunt is to hold it in an area or at a time of day that will prohibit the formation of a big crowd. The more people you engage the better, so the more central and accessible, the stronger the stunt.
- Does it pack a visual punch? Very often, coverage and buzz surrounding a stunt will be driven by one great photo or video clip. Ensure that the visual aesthetic of your stunt is captivating, and that it has a very clear, obvious connection to your communications objective.
- Do you have a social media strategy to back it up? Whether the media comes or not, if you have Facebook, YouTube and Twitter chatter, your PR stunt will be a success. Be sure to arm your teams with a solid social media plan that drives buzz and engages with your audience before, during and after the stunt.
So for your next big product or service launch, it might be a good idea to think about how you’re going to make your “grand entrance.”
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mia Pearson is president of the Canadian region for Fleishman-Hillard Canada and its sister company, High Road Communications. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing award-winning communications agencies. Her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle. She works in partnership with her clients to build brands, mitigate risk and shape communications strategies.