Jesse James Rice

Write or Die

A blog about needing words to breathe.



This isn’t rocket science.

But it isn’t a Jackson Pollock painting either. This is marketing. There are real, measureable strategies you can use to get the most out of that Flash Mob or Youtube Surprise. Publicity stunts are becoming more and more sophisticated with the amount of video shares happening online now. Don’t miss out on a great opportunity to expand your audience—but don’t be slap-dash about it either. Here are 4 strategies to help wrap your mind around creating a real, relevant brand stunt.


Clearly connect the story with your brand.

You have a great idea that you're sure will go viral. Don't forget—the center of that idea should be your brand story. A stunt can easily go viral without adding much value. Remember when Oprah gave away a car to everyone in her audience? Do you remember which car that was? Yeah, neither do we. It was a Pontiac G6. There was a lot of attention paid to the screaming men and women on-camera, but not so much for Pontiac. Oprah isn’t inherently associated with cars, and a lack of strategy to connect Oprah to the brand meant not much traction for the brand.


Make it clear and easy to interact.

This is the stage where egos need to be left at the door. Test it. Yes, make your co-workers and cousins walk through your stunt in a dry run. There is no better way to work out murky instructions or faulty systems than to have a good ol’ fashioned fire drill. After each round, adjust and evolve the idea so it’s as clear and compelling as a Wes Anderson film. Stunts work best when they involve interaction from unsuspecting people, and the more work you’re willing to put in, the more likely you’ll get interactive value in return.


The gold is in the details: location and logistics.

Be sure to ideate where and how you’re going to pull this off. Don’t be lazy with your brainstorming: if you think you’ve found the perfect spot, there is probably an even better place to pull off your stunt. Don’t forget accessibility, relevance, safety, and ease. As a rule, I like to avoid pools. Place a producer in charge of operations, scheduling and planning—right down to transportation and parking for your team.



What happens tomorrow?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but choose your timing carefully. Beyond clashing with events like the Super Bowl, there may be other brand stories or world moments that will compete with your message. Timing is always key, and there’s no reason to take a shot in the dark.

Follow up. Don’t expect your audience to take this thing viral overnight. It pays to have a social strategy timeline set up far in advance, and really stick to it. Spontaneity works best within a well-defined structure.

Set goals and measure them. Don’t view your stunt as a one-time event. Use it for learning, and compare its success with more than numbers. Perhaps take a poll on-site, or monitor closely the engagement via analytics. Whatever you do, take notes so your next event can add even more value to your brand.

Oh, is that all?

Use this list to get your brain juices flowing about how your brand will pull off its next stunt. And by all means, be sure to let me know how it goes.

Jesse RiceComment