Stunts are outdated in this post-purpose world says Dan Neale, MD at Alfred
Wherever you learned your trade there has, historically, been an ingrained focus by PRs on the creation of campaigns (often stunts) that are frequented with puns, to create a brand moment.
This mode of PR is outdated.
And as we shift to a post-purpose world, where brands need to not only say they are good but show action - this tactical methodology and representation of PR needs to evolve.
You can’t authentically connect with brand stakeholders, be that consumer, employees or industry, by simply doing one thing. Especially if that thing is often forgotten tomorrow (apart from being recorded in the coverage books detailing the tens of billions that have been reached).
This has been a key driver around the fake-purpose conversation, where brands are called out for jumping on the bandwagon, while not actually really doing any good or genuinely supporting the “purpose” they have hung their hat on.
While the issue is rooted in these activations being used as a marketing gimmick, vs actual brand purpose, the world of communications has a huge opportunity to impact businesses on a much greater level.
This shift requires a new approach to creative thinking, levelling-up from the one-hit-wonder to an ongoing drumbeat of activity, through a creative platform that supports a unified message that is authentically a brand’s purpose - but with action.
Ideas that help brands connect but also define their place in the world, what they are setting out to achieve, and how they are contributing to society beyond profit.
We have the power and the ability to develop long-term platforms that can act as direction for a whole host of activities, which are measured more by business impact than outdated column inches or inflated reach figures.
This is something ad agencies have always been great at - developing a brand idea and direction - and something PRs have often been asked to create a stunt around.
However, in a world where we are more critical than ever about the brands we buy from or work for, strategic communication holds the key to developing platforms that are rooted in truth (otherwise they fail), and connect with stakeholders across a range of channels.
The insight that communications people have in abundance, due to being tapped into trends and conversations, should mean they are always on the pulse and can spot movements, years before they start to become mainstream. Way before the focus group or survey miraculously unearths a new shift.
“PR my ad” is a term I have heard a number of times in my career (often positioned as “amplification”).
However if, as comms people, we are tapped into media and stakeholder conversations, are we not in the best position to tap into this golden insight to help? Not only to shape a brand's communication strategy, but also their business?
This doesn't require a £100k focus group (albeit this may be useful to convince the sceptical), it simply requires constant consumption of information and a conversation around a brand's reputation and market demands.
As a result, we should be thinking and pitching brand defining platforms, that can act as direction for a whole series of ‘actions’, that contribute positively, while being genuinely authentic to the brand and audiences.
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