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The Brilliance of PR Stunts

December 19, 2013 Bradford Group Administrator

If you have browsed the Internet in the last week then I am sure you have stumbled upon WestJet’s “Christmas Miracle” PR stunt (and you cried just like I did when you watched it).

With three months of planning and 175 WestJet volunteers, the Canadian airline spread Christmas joy to more than 250 guests on two Calgary-bound flights. Passengers were given the opportunity to tell Santa Claus what they wanted for Christmas before boarding their flight, and while in the air, WestJet employees dashed to purchase the wished-upon gifts. When they arrived at their destination, passengers were surprised with the wrapped gifts at baggage claim.

The viral video accumulated nearly 30 million views in just 10 days and garnered worldwide attention on The Today Show, NPR, The Huffington Post, People, Entrepreneur and Mashable, among many others.

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From eye-catching flash mobs to daredevil acts, PR stunts generate positive buzz for companies and public figures. The term “PR stunt” may have a bad reputation, thanks in part to celebrities wanting to stand out in the media, but most PR professionals use “stunts” to strategically promote a valuable message, as WestJet did with sharing the company’s holiday spirit.

The most powerful PR stunts create conversations, go viral and most importantly, promote the concept behind them. While a PR stunt needs to be a little crazy to attract attention, it shouldn’t overshadow the reason behind performing the stunt.

PR stunts take place at home in Nashville, too. Just a few months ago, you may have noticed that the “Musica” statue was dressed in cut-off jeans in support of country singer Brett Eldredge’s No. 1 hit “Don’t Ya.” Now that will make someone stop and stare.

Additionally, Pepsi recruited Blake Shelton to make a surprise visit to its booth at last year’s CMA Music Festival during a game of Pepsi Speed Sketch, where contestants thought they were just competing for tickets to the country star’s concert.

There have been a lot of memorable PR stunts this year.

  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues’ Will Ferrell broadcasted the news in North Dakota, channeling his character Ron Burgandy.
  • Virgin America flew Chihuahua puppies from San Francisco to New York so they could be adopted in time for Thanksgiving.
  • On National Cat Day, Uber partnered with Internet meme site Cheezburger to expand their services to include kitten and cupcake deliveries.

What was your favorite PR stunt of 2013?

Photo Credit: @Bradley_Collins, https://twitter.com/Bradley_Collins/status/394819355021570048

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