Effortless PR Campaigns that blew up the world of social media

Hearing new and creative PR stunts happening every day, leaves you curious how people come up with these bizarre ideas. Always so simple yet so fanatically smart. As I came across one comical PR campaign back in September, I became hooked, it has become a weekly ritual for me to look up PR stunts of the week. Some successful, some not so successful.

What makes a good PR Campaign? Personally, and most obviously, I would say that the most important factor of a good PR campaign is that it should be engaging and entertaining. Something humorous is often a success, depending on the brand or product of course. It is important that the campaign is going to make the customers want to share it with their friends through different means; social media, sharing links privately or even making people talk about it in person.

Here are some of the most successful campaigns that caught my eye over the past few months.

  1. KFC will give $11,000 to first baby born on Sept. 9 who’s named Harland

Want a quick and easy way to make $11,000? Have a baby! Well… maybe not quick, and definitely not easy. But it certainly is a way, as KFC are offering $11,000 to name your baby after Colonel Harland David Sanders himself to mark the 128th birthday of KFC.

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This bizarre idea is a brilliant way to get the conversations sparking between customers. It is also memorable, as there is going to be a human walking around to ensure that people don’t forget the famous name.

Although this is a great way to guarantee your future child a hard time growing up at school, is it really worth $11,000?

  1. Deliveroo’s homage to the Friends meat trifle

Everybody loves friends (well, if you’re not a millennial), and Deliveroo is no exception. They boldly decided to celebrate the 14th anniversary of the final episode of friends which was back in 2004, by putting one of the show’s most infamous meals on the menu.

In “The One Where Ross Got High”, Rachel contributes to their thanksgiving meal by making the glorious meat trifle. Of all meals on the Tv show, Deliveroo decided to put this meal on the menu, available to order for £6.

Combining lady fingers, jam, custard, raspberries, beef sautéed with peas and onion, bananas and whipped cream (you read that in the voice of Rachel, didn’t you?). The desert was available to order through Deliveroo’s ‘Regina Philange’ pop-up shop for a limited time.

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Apparently, to my surprise, it actually didn’t taste like feet! Reports suggest that it was unexpectedly tasty. Although as much as I fully support this campaign, the dessert would not be my cup of tea!

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  1. Church stages screening of The Exorcist to raise money for restoration

This is something that I would most definitely NOT be taking part in. But it is without a doubt going to get people talking.

One of the most profitable horror movies ever made, The Exorcist was screened in a church in Strasbourg, France on the 20th of September this year as part of the annual Film Festival. The purpose of this campaign was to raise money which will go towards the structural restoration of the church.

The choice in venue goes hand in hand with the film which is based on a real-life exorcism carried out by a Roman Catholic priest in the US.

You certainly need to be a brave character to even consider appearing at a screening like this

This campaign is relative, engaging and audacious!

  1. Russians promised ‘free pizza for life’ in exchange for a permanent Domino’s logo tattoo

Unlike the above campaign, this is one that I would 100% consider taking part in. I mean, free pizza? For life? For a cute pizza tattoo? Yes please!

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Domino’s Pizza in Russia launched this competition to give free pizza’s for life for anyone who got the domino’s logo permanently tattooed on their body. This took over social media pretty swiftly and there were more than plenty people willing to jump at the opportunity. Again, free pizza? Why wouldn’t you?

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With these kinds of comical PR campaigns, the media will come to you, and the news will spread by itself. However, it is still important for the company to make it as shareable as possible. The campaign needs to be distributed wisely to the audience, ensuring that the correct target audience, socials and journalists are being reached. This will guarantee that your creative idea for a campaign won’t go to waste.

Aoibheann McKinley is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://uk.linkedin.com/in/aoibheann-mckinley 870316112 ; Twitter – @aoibheannmckinl ; Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/aoibhymcmua/?hl=en

Fortnite, In Real Life

If I asked you to name a company that are estimated to be valued at over 8.5 billion dollars in January 2019, Epic Games probably wouldn’t be one of the first names on your list. Epic Games, Inc. formerly Potomac Computer Systems, is an American video game developer based in Cary, North Carolina. The company was founded by Tim Sweeney as Potomac Computer Systems in 1991, originally located in his parents’ house in Potomac, Maryland.

This might not mean a lot to most people reading the opening paragraph, however one word will likely change that.

Fortnite (this does not mean 2 weeks).

To provide some context in case you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what Fortnite is. It is a survival game where 100 players from all over the world parachute from a big blue “Battle Bus” onto the Fortnite map and the last player alive wins. Players can also select game mode options to play as part of a team where the last team standing wins. This may seem a bit gruesome if you haven’t seen a game of Fortnite, the characters are all cartoon based and there are no blood or guts so can parents of young children please chill out.

The game has attracted massive attention, with over 40 million logins each month. Pretty good for a “free” game isn’t it? Yes that’s right, it costs absolutely nothing to download and play Fortnite yet it generated over 645 million dollars in three months. This is mostly from in-game cosmetics and the games internal currency called “V-Bucks” (which you can buy with real money) which are used to buy new characters, accessories and even dances.

Public Relations

Epic games specifically with Fortnite use very clever Public Relation strategies, which in some cases has even gained attention from the mainstream media. To add some more context, within the game there is the possibility of finding a “llama” which contains useful materials for players to use to their advantage.

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It is quite a good thing if a players finds a llama which are scattered all over the map and can be found anywhere. For the official launch of the much anticipated Fortnite Season 5, Epic Games organised for these in-game llamas to appear in different locations all over the world (yes real life).

This was a very unusual way to raise anticipation for the season 5 update but it got a very positive response from social media. It encouraged people who had no idea what Fortnite was to download the free game and gave Epic Games the potential to make even more money.

Durr Burger

Another example of Epic games PR stunts was “Durr Burger”. To add some context, there is a location within Fortnite called “Greasy Grove”. This place is centred on a fast food burger restaurant, whose mascot is called “Durr Burger”.

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Within the game at the beginning of season 5 mysterious things started happening, items were disappearing from the map and appearing elsewhere. Epic games organised this to happen with “Durr Burger”. It had disappeared from its home on the top of the restaurant and players were wondering where it was, then this happened.

“Durr Burger” was spotted in real life, like the llamas. In a Californian dessert a real life “Durr Burger” showed up, this gained a huge amount of attention on social media. Members of the public were visiting “Durr Burger”, taking photos and was a very popular topic on local radio in California.

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Epic Games spend a lot of time on developing Fortnite, creating new content within the game with weekly and seasonal updates to keep it fresh and attract new players. Season 7 came out with a widely-predicted Christmas themed update, but Epic Games will certainly have future surprises for us.

Eoin Crossan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eoin-crossan-848a30171/

PaddyPower’s Top 5 Publicity Stunts

PaddyPower is one of the leading Irish bookmakers who will do just about everything for some publicity, whether it be conventional marketing or controversial PR stunts,  From taking bets on whether Oscar Pistorius will “walk” from his murder trial to publishing a poster portraying Jesus and the disciples gambling at the last supper.  Personally i think most of the PaddyPower advertisements are hilarious and they continually think of  clever ways of advertising their brand. PaddyPower’s marketing department definitely produce material based on the understanding that “all publicity is good publicity”.

Below is a list of previous PaddyPower PR stunts that i believe are some of their best pieces of work.

5. Cheltenham festival pants 

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During the 2013 Cheltenham festival, PaddyPower offered race-goers the chance to get the best seats in the house in a flying pair of PaddyPower underpants. The giant flying underpants were not only seen by the 70,000 people in attendance but also was picked up on live TV broadcasts. Cheltenham festival organisers subsequently demanded that PaddyPower take down their flying pair of pants following the involvement of the Civil Aviation Authority.

 

4. Nicklas Bendtner’s Lucky Pants

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During a EURO 2012 group game Nicklas Bendtner coolly dispatched an equalising goal for Denmark, he then proceeds to pull down his shorts where he reveals a pair of PaddyPower lucky pants,  The stunt landed Nicklas a £80,000 fine which PaddyPower paid on behalf of Nicklas. The fine was issued on the same day that Croatian fans were fined £60,000 for racial slurs directed at Italian striker Mario Balotelli, PaddyPower publicly addressed the harsh penalty fee and were disappointed in EUFA’s “double standards”.

3. Ryder Cup Sky tweets

In a campaign to support Team Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup golf tournament, PaddyPower decided to take to the skies above the Medinah Country Club to issue the worlds first ‘sky tweet’.  PaddyPower hired a fleet of aircraft’s to display tweets in the sky in support of Team Europe. The messages were quickly seen by the golfers and was picked up live on Sky Sports broadcasts. The campaign was so successful that BBC re-used the footage for their 2012 Sports Personality of the Year awards.

2. PaddyPower’s Drive Through Confession Box

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Prior to the Pope’s visit to Ireland on August of 2018, PaddyPower erected a giant drive-thru confession box to facilitate for the Irish population to repent decades of sins from the comfort of their own car. PaddyPower even carried out a special survey before building the express lane to eternal salvation, when asked if they found it convenient to attend confession, the majority (61%) said no, and a further 15% said it could be improved, cue PaddyPowers “convenient” method of attending confession.

1.Always bet on black

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Ahead of the one of the most anticipated fights the world has ever seen between undefeated Floyd Mayweather and Irish MMA champion Conor McGregor, Floyd steps up for his weigh-in, slips off his trousers only to showcase PaddyPowers bright green lucky pants with the phrase “always bet of black” embroidered on them in an apparent gut-shot to his opponent’s ‘f**k you’ pinstripe suit effort during the fighters’ promo tour for the event. Quite frankly, nobody had seen this coming especially given that PaddyPower, an Irish betting company wasn’t backing one of their own in Conor McGregor. Instead they had fledged allegiance to undefeated boxer Floyd Mayweather.

PaddyPower even held twitter competitions to win a free pair of PaddyPower lucky pants signed by Floyd himself.

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James McGirr is a final year BSc Public Relations & Communication Management student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/james-mcgirr-247328143/ & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jimmymcgirr

Controversial Advertising: Stupid or Strategic?

Have you ever seen an ad and thought “who thought that was a good idea?!” And no, I don’t mean those corny ads like something you’d see on The Apprentice. I mean those ones that make you think “who approved that?” or “umm why?”

I’ve always thought the whole “all press is good press” notion was a bit, well, stupid really. I mean, I never really saw how negative publicity and consumer backlash could be a good thing for a business?

 

 

Well, today I saw this NHS ad campaign for breastfeeding on my LinkedIn feed. The only reason that I saw this ad was because a connection of mine shared it and expressed their outrage at the nature of the ad. Then I realised that I probably never would have seen the ad if it wasn’t for them sharing it. I mean, I don’t exactly strive to keep up to date on the goings on of the parenting and baby world (well not yet anyway).

This got me thinking though, what if Eminem was right? *gasps in background* What if we do need a little controversy? These ‘controversial’ ads do get people talking and raise awareness about the brand/product after all. So what if all press really is good press?

 

  • To clarify, I’m not saying “let’s go out and offend everyone in the name of free publicity” (or, “let’s listen to Eminem” – I’m definitely not saying that). I’m simply saying that maybe there is method in the madness. And I’m not talking about ads that violate the principles of the ASA and have to be taken down either.

 

Marketing and advertising teams depend on people talking about products, companies, shows- whatever they’re trying to promote; and what better way to get people talking than to start a good old fashioned debate?

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Take the latest Cancer Research campaign – informing consumers of the link between obesity and cancer. Many people complained, stating that it ‘fat shamed’ individuals and lowered their self-esteem.

This sparked an online debate, with people vouching for both sides, which led to the ad being shared and talked about all over social media.

Think of how many people have now seen the ad. So, think of how people are now aware that obesity contributes to the development of cancer. Do you think an ad showing a microscope and cell would have had the same effect?

Whether or not they agree with the ad is irrelevant; these people still shared the ad with hundreds of people. What is relevant, however, is that the aim of the ad was to educate and inform consumers. Which it has.

Those who were so opposed to the ad, were the ones who actually promoted the campaign. Doing Cancer Research a favour. I mean, if you hate the ad so much, why are you giving the company free advertising space on your social media platforms?

Cancer Research essentially got free advertising and discussion about not only their organisation, but the message they were trying to spread.

 

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In a similar way, Netflix’s show Insatiable got slated online with a large amount of viewers complaining about it. I had never heard of the show, but decided to watch it to ‘see what the fuss was about’; I ended up watching the whole series. If the show hadn’t been featured on the likes of Buzzfeed and social media, I probably would never even have heard of it, let alone watched it.

What people don’t seem to realise is that “hate watching” is still watching. Do you think a series which follows the social norms and is 100% politically correct would have been renewed for a second series? Doubt it.

 

Let’s be real, we’re all (I hope it’s not just me) guilty of being attracted to a wee bit of scandal and  the chance to give our opinions *has flashbacks to whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black* and companies know this – they have to get us talking after all.

(it was white and gold btw- just saying)

 

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Advertisers love pushing boundaries. They have to think outside that clichéd box and come up with new and imaginative ideas for campaigns. If they didn’t push the boundaries, people wouldn’t react; and the whole point of advertising is to get a reaction from consumers. Yes, ideally you want consumers to actually like you, but, it’s a gamble that I guess can pay off. I somehow doubt that Cancer Research will have a tough time weighing up the cons of a few angry people vs the pros of raising awareness and saving lives.

The thing to note is the status of the company being controversial – the NHS can afford to be because, whether or not people agree with the ad, they’re most likely still going to avail of the NHS’s services. I doubt people would rather fork out a few grand for private healthcare than get it for free from a health provider that ran a questionable breastfeeding campaign.

Similarly, do you think consumers are going to ‘boycott’ a cancer research charity because they don’t like their ad? Don’t think so. So, whilst being controversial can be a good thing, it’s important for advertisers to think of the potential consequences of annoying consumers.

Advertisers also need to be aware of the fine line separating ‘controversial’ and just downright offensive. The last thing you want is for the ASA to be on your back, or having to withdraw a campaign you spent a hell of a lot of money on.

 

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Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

So, next time you see an ad and think “what the hell were they thinking?!” Maybe now you know.

Or, maybe they’re not the strategic marketing geniuses we thought they were and it really is just be a poorly thought out ad. Who knows?

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/

Digital Poster Paste

You and your mates are in a band, you want gigs, you book them yourself. Maybe you’re a promoter, with the thankless job of getting everyone in the same place at the same time. You book two or three bands; you get the sound guy there on time, charge a few quid at the door and split the profits. Sounds simple, right?
Not really. Let’s take into account the fact that while you’re waiting for a 6pm sound check, you find out that the night before the band were at Electric Picnic, taking drugs until 5 in the morning, and are too mashed to drive from Cookstown. Or what about the lead singer who decides to emulate Jim Morrison and give the audeince a bit more than what they paid in for, or the guitarist who was clinked up for, ominously, ‘something to do with his mother…’

Shane 2Yes, reader, I took the thankless job of vicariously being in a band. I had a Monday night slot for a local showcase. For every night where the band outnumbered the audience there were others that saw some spark of brilliance on stage, the first headlining slot for a band that went far and on one glorious occasion, a sell-out show.

These were the old days of the paste-bucket and poster, but now your band or your night relies on the internet to make your mark. You need that crowd. A good crowd hears your music and buys your merchandise and physical albums. A good take on the door pleases your booker, who should be cutting you in on that sweet action – (and if not, have a word). A good crowd buying drinks endears you to the venue, which can lead to bigger shows. So how should you go about marketing yourself online?

There’s a plethora of books and blogs on the topic, so I’ll just briefly tell you what helps me out. We all know that the video is king. Invest some time and money in one really good video. It doesn’t have to be the November Rain promo, but a good quality live video will work wonders for your Facebook. There’s been times when I’m pushing a show and the support act gets the glory, as the headliners’ YouTube presence consists of wobbly footage of an ‘illegal gig’ and some confusing poi display.

Think of your bio. We don’t need to know that your band is ‘like no other’. Some brief history, a few influences and some of the gigs that you’ve played really give us an idea of where you’re at. Photos are useful too, but make sure you’re genuine. I once saw a picture of a 20 something local musician on stage at the Concert for Bangladesh.

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Keep it brief as well. I was once handed a four page press release that had what the individual members liked for tea on it.

You have an online presence? Use it. Interact with me. Have fun. Send me any footage you want to use, let me know if the pictures are out of date and share, like and retweet as if your life depended on it. Your mate’s just done a new video? Let us show it first. The Ballyhalbert Examiner interviewed you lead singer? Link it up! Having a digital press pack, with all your social media links, the aforementioned video and a few hi-res photos can make all the difference.

 

Shane Horan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter @shanehoran.

Has PR lost all Credibility in 2018?

The term PR can unsurprisingly evoke a feeling of doubt in people’s minds. PR can be seen as way the media twist the truth in an attempt to deliver a certain message. The element of persuasion can sometimes overshadow judgement and cast a damaging light on PR. However this is not the case, PR today has emerged significantly from what people may relate it back to as propaganda. People are quick to criticise PR due to reports that PR shys away from persuasion as a form of propaganda as it can be argued that the purpose of PR is to manipulate opinions. In discovering the elements of professional and reliable information people can soon realise the credit associated through PR. The progress through the years proves that PR has become more credible through their relevant and trustworthy news sources.

 

It seems that anytime I tell someone I am doing a PR degree they recognise it as standing on street corners promoting clubs or creating publicly stunts for good advertising. It is not uncommon that PR can be misinterpreted as a means to sell or exploit. Fortunately this isn’t the case, PR has a lot more than just promotion and publicity stunts. One of the more famous stunts being the white Range Rover outside Harrods in 2016, which tactically used PR and advertising to promote their brand image for the new Revere Range Rover Vogue.

People often question what is PR and why is it needed. The PRCA describe PR as the way in which organisations communicate with the public, promote themselves and build reputation and public image (Prca.org.uk, 2017). PR is in fact the back bone to organisations positively communicating key messages to consumers. Every organisation no matter who small depends on their reputation therefore PR is needed to promote survival and success in the most competitive of industries.
The world of PR is chaotic and crazy but for all the right reasons. The PR industry invites you to experience things you never imagined and learn things you never knew. Credibility is merely a small element of PR that is unfortunately sometimes negatively portrayed. Influencers and brand ambassadors create the perfect platform for organisations to promote their brand messages to their target audience and building upon their reputation. Aristotle used the term Ethos throughout PR which is given to a character such as a celebrity endorser or influential figure which gives the organisation more credibility.

 

The intensity and multitude of information and messages throughout PR in today’s modern world are at an all time high. So of course there are elements of exaggeration within the media but more importantly there is logical information that the public can rely on. The truth is that PR is everywhere you go and it is nearly impossible to escape it. There is a mass of messages and promotions in every aspect of life and it is important that we use these opportunities effectively to communicate the right message.
However the right message may not always be that simple to communicate. PR may not always be controlled and positive PR can always turn in to negative PR, which is something to consider. NYPD proved this through their social media request of asking the public to send in positive pictures with the police, which of course didn’t last too long and were bombarded with negative images and PR.

 

Although, it can be certain that PR is focused on promoting an organisations image and reputation, there is so much more planning and preparation involved. Today’s PR professionals have to processes a variety of skills within a competitive workplace. PR practitioners support their consumers and the public by communicating messages truthfully and effectively, ultimately creating a mass of credible PR.

Caoimhe Conway is a 4th year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University, Jordanstown. She can be found on Twitter: @caoimhe_conway /  Instagram: caoimheconway / LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/caoimhe-conway-bb0b03152/

3 of the most iconic PR stunts of all time

A few people realise that PR practitioners are the invisible puppet masters pulling the strings behind every element of media you see today.

Of course, you’ll not be able to recount the 1,000s of campaigns you’re exposed to each week, but there are campaigns that tend to leave a lasting impression on your memory, without even realising that they are the result of a carefully crafted engineered process by the PR practitioner.

In recent years the internet has transformed how we interpret and receive messages, this has in turn meant that PR stunts have become quite transparent. Seemingly the truly iconic PR stunts of all time took place 50+ years ago!

Let’s talk about this iconic image:

Marilyn Monroe "Seven Year Itch", 1955
Marilyn Monroe “Seven Year Itch”, 1955

To some it would seem Ms. Monroe was the victim of a poorly timed subway train causing her skirt to billow, giving photographers ammunition to capture the most iconic image ever.

At the time, Marilyn was attending a photo call to promote her movie ‘The Seven Year Itch’. Just as photographers began to assemble, a wind machine hidden under the steel grate was activated, the result of a carefully orchestrated stunt by the movie publicists who were responsible for not only an iconic image for the movie but it’s the image which people remember when they think of the iconic Marilyn Monroe.

Of course stunts don’t have to simply increase a celebrity profile, they are often done for the greater good.

During the 1920’s the intensity for equality for women after the war heightened, after all the notions of traditional gender roles was contradicted when women proved they could do the same work as men, and do it better.

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The symbol of women’s liberation came from an unlikely source, cigarettes. At the time the social stigma attached to women smoking was rife. By no means was George Washington Hill concerned with the liberty of women’s rights, however he was hungry for success. He drafted in PR’s founding father, Edward Bernay, to help with his endeavour.

On March 31st, 1929, during the Easter parade, led by Bertha Hunt (Bernay’s secretary), who lit up a lucky strike cigarette on fifth avenue, other women soon followed. Combined with the papers reporting enthusiastically of the event, branding cigarettes as ‘torches of freedom,’ seen Bernay’s replaced the social stigma surrounding cigarettes and repositioned them to a symbol of freedom.

Moving on to more modern times, the Queensland Tourism campaign was dubbed one of the most successful tourism campaigns ever.  In 2009, the tourism board began their search for applicants to fill the ‘Best Job in the World’ role. The primary objectives for the campaign was to generate global awareness of the Great Barrier ReeAS3f in Queensland and to increase visitation to the Great Barrier Reef. With the intention to appeal to youthful travelers who wanted to seek a global travel experience.

Approximately there were 35,000 applicants spanning over 200 different countries who applied for the job with nearly AU$ 430 million public relations value generated.

An editor from the UK’s Sunday Times stated, “Not since Willy Wonka and the golden tickets hidden in chocolate bars, has something came along like this.”

The outcomes of the job advert seen global news coverage, listed 8th place on the world’s top 50 PR stunts of all time, a huge rise in visitors to Queensland and won huge awards. The successful applicant, Ben Southall from the UK was appointed caretaker of the Great Barrier Reef in 2009. During the role he was interviewed more than 450 times, visited 100 Queensland destinations and blogged throughout the entire trip, check it out by clicking the link below.

http://bensouthall.com/blog/

PR stunts are fantastic ways to get essentially ‘free’ media coverage for a brand. If a stunt is done well, the coverage is usually instant as these days people are always photographing and videoing, however, this is only on the basis that the stunt is interesting enough people feel it’s worth sharing. Carefully crafting a PR stunt and generating publicity for something which grabs the public’s attention is difficult, but the long lasting effect it has on a brand could be the key to the business’s life span and success.

Annie Shivers is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. She is on Twitter at @ShiversAnnie and LinkedIn https://uk.linkedin.com/in/annie-shivers-9085b810a