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Blue Monday and PR stunts

This year Monday 16th January was Blue Monday which is apparently the most depressing day of the year or is it? Blue Monday started as a PR stunt by the company Sky Travel in a bid to try and sell holidays. They claimed to have done an equation to find the worst day of the earth. I have no idea whether they sold more holidays, but I do know that for good or bad 18 years on people still refer to Blue Monday and companies still use it to try and increase sales.

Whatever your feelings about Blue Monday PR stunts do have their place when it comes to raising awareness of a business or cause.

Many years ago, when I worked for Bravissimo we had a double decker bus branded up and converted into fitting rooms. We then took it to various locations around the country where we wanted to increase footfall to the stores. This gave us a chance to engage with the public and incentivised them to go to the store with a flyer with a map and a discount.

Not all PR stunts have to be that expensive or big and here is my guide to publicity stunts:

1. Identify your goal.

Before planning how the stunt is going to be executed or any other details about it, you need to decide what the aim of the stunt is. If it is to raise money, it is important to be exact about the figure it is aiming for. If the point is simply to direct to a website, that can also be quantified according to traffic.

2. Set a deadline.

Depending on the type of publicity stunt, there is no standard time for it to last. Some last an hour while others go on for days. By setting a deadline it motivates people to join in.

3. Decide on the best medium for the stunt.

Using more traditional mediums such as print media, commercials and billboards can be a great strategy, depending on a number of factors. However, the effectiveness of the internet and its reach are unmatched. If you have a large following on social media, it could be better to use them as a quick and efficient way to spread the message. The following on those platforms is mostly made up of people who already have an active interest in the business. Updating them first can be an effective way to tap into word-of-mouth advertising.

An example of a stunt that tied those three aspects together is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. To begin with, it had a clear goal, which was to raise money for research. Participants were also given a deadline of 24 hours to complete the challenge. Spreading it through the internet, which was obviously the best medium for it, also helped to ensure its success.

Rebecca Slater is a PR Consultant with more than 20 years public relations experience. She is based in Staffordshire and provides support to businesses all over the country.

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