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The best kind of publicity is a good story

The best kind of publicity is a good story

The picture shows Richard Branson kite surfing in 2009.

Editors are perfectly adept at spotting thinly veiled free publicity-hunting articles from companies. Editors may use them if real news is thin on the ground, but even if they do, readers are also pretty good at recognising PR masquerading as news. So, of course, you need to provide them with genuine stories, and not just any old story. The fact that you just took on a new apprentice is hardly going to cause the newspapers to fly off the newsstand. You need to develop a conscious awareness of when news happens in your company. And rather than write the story as a press release, just let the newspaper/magazine know about the story; believe me if the story is a good one they’ll be in touch within the hour.

So what do you do if interesting news doesn’t happen very often in your company? Pull a PR stunt. That’s right, even if you engineered the news item, it’s still news if it is real, and stunts can make great news (See our other post about Brew Dog, masters of the PR stunt).

As I was writing this I noticed a story on the front page of the Shropshire Star taking up more than a quarter of the news area. It was a photo and article about a wall-mounted Royal Mail post box. So what’s so newsworthy about that you might ask? Well, the box was mounted so high on the wall it would require a long ladder to be able to post a letter. Crazy. How did it get there? Is it real? Turns out it was fake, you couldn’t post a letter even if you did have a ladder. Someone was pulling a stunt and the newspaper loved it. I don’t think this particular item had anything to do with a local business, but you get the idea.

So what about the image above of Richard Branson with a naked girl on his back? This stunt wasn’t by Mr Branson, a nortorious PR stunt puller. In fact the stunt was by the photographer (Stephane Gautronneau) and his girlfriend model (Denni Parkinson). Whilst Branson obviously got a lot of attention for this, it was the model and the photographer that got a fantastic boost in their careers.

What are you waiting for? Start dreaming up potential stunts, or otherwise interesting stories, relevant to your business. And if you have some examples of PR stunts that you know about, why not let me know by email, even if they are ones that backfired!

Did I say make sure your stunt doesn’t backfire?

PS Branson has now turned kite surfing with lovely ladies attached to his body into an art form.