My slides from PR Fest 2017: “PR stunts – a relic of a bygone age, or a useful PR tactic?”

Category: Agency News

By: Rich Leigh

“A good dose of filth” was how my talk at last Thursday’s PR Fest in Edinburgh was described by Hotwire’s group head of engagement, John Brown, before going on to say that I “brought clarity to floating stuff down the Thames”, a PR agency and industry trope.

I’m pretty happy with that assessment, to be honest. Job done.

Having enjoyed a brilliant response to its inaugural first year, PR Fest, organised by the endlessly positive Laura Sutherland, returned for 2017 with a glowing list of speakers and panel members (and me).

As the founder of, and the owner of this here PR agency – at which we pride ourselves on our ability to get creative – I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak about creative campaigns.

PR stunts are roundly and routinely mocked. In our increasingly measurement-conscious industry, they get knocked for being a relic of a bygone age of publicity, but that doesn’t have to be the case.

Just look at this case study we wrote up today, highlighting what happens to client traffic when a client story goes global thanks to the ability to spot a chance to be proactive and creative with data. As well as traffic increases, registration conversions, sales and link-building can be among the measurable outcomes, and I think we’ve forgotten, or potentially not even realised, just how beneficial creative thinking can be.

I was fairly nervous to be going up to talk, to be honest. I’ve only ever done a few talks, and as confident a person as I usually am, I knew this would be in front of people that worked at the more serious end of the industry.

Here are my slides from the talk:

Now, the first half might not make much sense without my commentary (no good talk should be entirely dependent on the words on each slide), but you’ll get the gist – slide 26 onward is a bit more useful, potentially.

Highlighting some of my favourite stunts and creative campaigns, from other brands and PR agencies and our own recent work, I tackled a few issues and preconceptions people told me they’ve had in the past about stunts. I also realised that the majority of stunts I like are pretty out-there, something you might get from the images I’ve used in the first half!

Hopefully, the slides will make sense in context, but if not, feel free to tweet me and I’ll explain to the best of my ability quite what the hell I think I’m doing talking through, say, a semen cooking class to a room full of professionals keen to hear from the best.

All in all, it was brilliant to meet some great new people, share the day with friends – some of whom I hadn’t seen for a while – and learn from some very smart people. Huge and special thanks to Laura for her effort, on behalf of the industry, and the invitation to speak. The premise of PR Fest, in being an annual industry conference based in Scotland, is a solid one, and one that further shows that London isn’t the only place PR can thrive.