PR Stunts: Build Awareness While Making a Difference

Landing a media mention can be worth its weight in gold for most businesses. Many businesses, though, wonder how to make this happen, while others worry that their stories aren’t good enough to share with the public. However, there is always an opportunity for businesses to share valuable content that activates audiences – and one of the best ways to do this is through clever, strategic PR stunts.

But what exactly is a PR stunt?

A PR stunt is an event or initiative that connects two or more organizations, typically a local business to a nonprofit, with a clear intention to benefit both. The receiving organization gains greater public awareness of their mission along with financial support and services or goods for their constituency, while the giving business gains positive “feel-good” exposure with their client base and local community through media placements such as radio/TV public service announcements or newspaper/magazine articles.


Selecting a Non-Profit for Your PR Stunt

It’s important to choose the right non-profit for several reasons. Specifically, the organization you select for the stunt should:

  1. Align with your vision or have some other meaningful connection
  2. Have a substantial constituency that can expand the reach of your brand
  3. Be proactive and willing to collaborate on the initiative
  4. Demonstrate gratitude for your support
  5. Be interested in exploring other ideas for partnership opportunities in the future


Designing Your PR Stunt: Must-Haves

Every PR stunt should be strategically planned and executed to ensure maximum benefits and exposure. Because you’ll be working with a non-profit organization, you may need to run your stunt with limited resources. You’ll need to exercise your creativity and resourcefulness in order to identify and connect with opportunities that may not be immediately obvious.

And as with any collaborative project, consistent communication and ongoing support will be key to your success.

Above all, make sure you’ve thought through these critical elements:

  • Photos & Videos: It’s true that an image tells a thousand words, so be sure to capture your stunt as it happens, so that you can share your great work with the public and build even more feel-good sentiments.
  • Sharing: With social media, the world is at your fingertips, so share your photos and videos on your social media accounts, send them out to your customer base via e-blasts or newsletters and add them your blog or even your email signature. Most importantly, send them to the local media with compelling captions for possible inclusion on their publications, both offline and online.
  • Follow Up: Media outlets receive hundreds of emails every day. Follow up with media outlets a few days after you have sent the photos, especially if you’ve sent them as attachments. Ideally, you want to give the media outlets a heads up that large, high-resolution images are coming.
  • Photo Releases: Make sure to get a signed public release announcement or individual model release from anyone who appears in the photos or videos, especially when children are involved. If you don’t have this permission, you may still take photos, but the media may decide to only use images where individual faces can’t be seen. For example, if you have a presenter, consider taking photos of the speaker from the audience perspective, showing only the backs of the audience’s heads with the speaker in clear view.
  • Tracking: Make sure each PR stunt is properly documented and measured. This is critical! If you don’t measure your results, you’ll never know if the whole thing was a waste of effort. Be strategic about these initiatives to ensure you receive the maximum ROI and ROO.


Designing Your PR Stunt: Idea Starters

Still not sure what to do for your PR stunt? Here are some ideas to get you going!

  1. Buy books from a local author and donate them to a local school. Include a note inside each book that says: “Book courtesy of <your business>”
  2. Choose a local family to give gifts through a local non-profit organization (e.g., Mutual Ground)
  3. Buy items such as food or coats to deliver to the local homeless shelter (e.g., Hessed House)
  4. Offer free coffee from a local coffee shop to delight the local community, totally unexpected. Put up a sign outside that says: “Free coffee today courtesy of <your business>.”
  5. Donate holiday gifts to an underprivileged group, such as young Latinas. Ask them to come to your office to pick them up on a certain date/time and take photos to capture their happiness.
  6. Gather a group of employees to volunteer at a local food pantry while also donating money to buy more food.
  7. Help local fireman and police offers decorate Christmas trees and partner with a non-profit to deliver them to local needy families.
  8. Share inspirational books with local victims of domestic violence.
  9. Collect t-shirts from local runners, make a quilt and donate it to a local charity to be used as a fundraising item.
  10. Donate free tickets to a local attraction for a community TV show to give away to their viewers.
  11. Partner up with a local non-profit organization and select a specific day to name: “The <non-profit organization> Day at < your business>.”
  12. Volunteer to teach at a local school through Junior Achievement.
  13. Hire a local author to bring an inspiring message to an underserved school, followed by a book signing.
  14. Organize your employees to run a 5K or half marathon in honor of a local nonprofit organization.
  15. Bring joy to a kids camp by providing entertainment or special gifts.
  16. Invite local young ladies to feel like “princesses” for a day, sponsoring an inspiring event where they share their dreams, write in a journal you provide and vote for the person that inspires them the most.
  17. Provide free advice and support to a local non-profit for a special event or initiative. Capture the challenge, action and results of your contribution.
  18. Rent a hot air balloon and sell tickets for rides in order to raise money for a local nonprofit.
  19. Select a local sports team, chorus or band and provide them with gear, instruments or a trip, particularly if the group has limited resources.

You get the idea! Great PR stunts don’t need to be resource-intensive to be effective. Ultimately, you’re only limited by your own imagination and creativity. Whatever direction you choose to go, you’ll be making a positive impact in the lives of people in your community, while building powerful emotional connections to your brand for years to come.

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