The phrase like “PR stunt” has always made me cringe. I think it has a negative connotation and gives PR a bad name. Just ask my cohort Don, his shins are bruised from every time I have kicked-him under the table at a meeting if that phrase is uttered in campaign discussions with clients or perspective clients. My philosophy is if the PR campaign is strategic enough, no “stunt” for pure shock value should be necessary. However, there is certainly a place for events, for publicity’s sake, whether small or large, one or many, as part of a cohesive campaign, just don’t call it a “stunt.” So maybe it’s all in nomenclature… as my new favorite phrase is “pop-up PR.”
First showing-up on the scene in the early 2000s (hopping across the pond from the UK) as a marketing tool, pop-ups have continued to gain momentum over time and are now a staple in the retail and restaurant toolbox. They can be an ideal vehicle to communicate a brand’s personality and message and often can feel more organic than in-your-face marketing.
So how does PR come into play? PR professionals can take a page out of marketing’s playbook and create a pop-up event to make a major announcement, launch a product or announce a special initiative. Beyond the typical scripted press conference, requisite shareholders meeting or annual trade show, pop-up PR events held in an unconventional, novelty location can be fun and generate tons of publicity and buzz. Of course, the event needs to make sense and add value to the overall PR campaign (we aren’t talking shock factor here). As with any event, publicists can help build awareness for these pop-up events through traditional and social media channels. From a media relations standpoint, pop-up PR events are particularly attractive as you can invite local journalists, bloggers and influencers to attend and immerse themselves in the event – engage in an experience versus being talked to for half an hour at a press conference. And social media, more than with any other PR event, is a key driver in getting people to your event. I could write an entire blog on the planning elements that goes into a successful pop-up PR event but here a few things to keep in mind to get the ball rolling:
• Think like a real estate agent: Location, location, location. Choose a unique spot (need I say “out-of-the-box”?) convenient enough to entice media and your target audience to attend. Consider what you are announcing and take an element and build form there.
• Remember the 7 senses: Don’t offer up the same song and dance that you would at a traditional press event. Again, build off the brand, product, cause, etc. that you are promoting. Immerse your attendees in an experience that touches all their seven senses.
• FOMO: Limit the timeframe and the number of people invited to give the event an exclusive feel and to drive interest. Doing this will build buzz and get people talking about the event (whether they are invited or not).
• Pitch, pitch, pitch: As with any PR event, media are just as important to a pop-up PR event as with any other, maybe even more so. Remember to hit verticals (does your location have a story unto itself?) and use all the usual social media suspects as possible.
• Have them Sing Your Praises: Don’t forget industry influencers and bloggers. Treat them like press and make sure they are in attendance at your event and get them involved as they can turn into your biggest fans.
So next time the phrase PR stunt pops into your head, think pop-up PR instead. Don’s shins will thank you.