Do you spend too much time sitting around, wishing the phone would ring, waiting for something to happen? Does the constant pressure to keep a crew busy wear you down? Jump up! It’s time to plan a stunt and grab some attention for your business!
A “stunt”? Yes. It’s not a pretty word, but it’s accurate. Nowadays, they call it a “public relations event” or some pretty and important-sounding phrase. But here, we get real and call things what they are.
If you can plan something that is original, unusual or even sensational, chances are, the newspapers will write a story about it! Or, the broadcast media will bring a camera, and give you a shot to be on the news. Now, that would get those phones to start ringing! And who ever knows what leads to what?
Here are some great examples. The Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J., started as a stunt to try to perk up sagging tourism at the end of the summer season. Now look what it has become! And yet, it still serves its initial purpose, to draw crowds to Atlantic City!
The FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list? ‘Fraid so… it started as a PR stunt in 1949 after a reporter asked J. Edgar Hoover who were the toughest, most dangerous fugitives. So far, 458 names have appeared on the list and 429 have been caught!
The Goodyear® Blimp? Please! What a great stunt! The first one started floating around in 1925, and today, they are at every sporting event. It’s one of the most recognizable logos on earth – or in the sky!
The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile®? Another great vehicular stunt. Hmm. What about your vehicles? Are they “nice,” with your logo on the door? Yawn. What if you made your trucks into traveling stunts with an outrageous paint job – or an attachment that really turns heads? Would that be too embarrassing for you to be seen in? Would it be less embarrassing than to possibly close your business?
What if you decided that your whole area is going to know who is the No.1, biggest fan of your nearest NFL team, or pro ball team? Super crazy fan! Then, be the tailgate nut at the games.
What do you think of when you hear 350 degrees? Is it the correct temperature for hot mix? Or is it the correct temperature to roast meat? Now, there’s a coincidence! Can you see yourself tailgating at a pro ballgame with your paver on site, roasting ribs or chicken and corn-on-the-cob in the hopper for people? That’s crazy, but, yes, you can cook in asphalt! It’s been done before. Or, you could be the turkey leg king and show up at picnics and gatherings to roast people’s food in asphalt. (Bring plenty of aluminum foil.)
Is your area famous for something? Sweet potatoes, or a celebrity’s home town? How can you hook up with that? For example, Pretty Prairie, Kan. is the birthplace of Carl Switzer, the Alfalfa character on the classic “Little Rascals/Our Gang” series. If you lived in Pretty Prairie, what could you do with that?
Every area has its own personality, its own claim to fame, dominant industry or landmark. In many cases, these are used to death. Probably a large number of businesses located near Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota try to exploit the monument. Perhaps they have a “Monument Café” and a “Four Faces” gas station and a “Rushmore Dry Cleaners.” But do they have an annual “Teddy’s Spectacles” parade? Perhaps someone should create such a zany thing. Incidentally, Mr. Rushmore got its start as, yup, a PR stunt conceived by South Dakota’s secretary of tourism back in 1924 to draw tourists to the state, and it seems to be working out for them.
The beauty of the stunt is that it can be as grandiose as you can afford. The trick is to think of a stunt that gets the biggest bang for your buck. Bowling for asphalt with a bowling contest on an asphalt lane with asphalt balls and pins? Throw in an asphalt trophy plus $50 for the winner, alert the media and boom, you have a crowd!
Since asphalt is the single most important recycled product in the world, you could make yourself known as the biggest recycler in town and take up environmental causes. Again, contests are great because people are eager to participate. Plan a city-wide recycling treasure hunt to emphasize asphalt’s recycling advantages. Own “Earth Day” in your community.
Plan an annual event. Better yet, become a big, visible part of an existing event. If your town goes all out on St. Patrick’s Day, figure out a way to get attention. Pave something in green! If your area does not celebrate a holiday, take it over and start the ball rolling. Elvis Presley’s birthday is Jan. 4, seize Groundhog Day on Feb. 2. Does anyone in your area do anything big for April Fool’s Day? Make it the day you kick off your busy season with a public bang.
Raising awareness of your business is the point. You may not get new jobs the day after your event, but over time, you will get calls from people who remember your stunt. It’s not a selling activity, it’s an attention-getting activity.
Donate a stunt skater’s track or roller blade course to a local school or park. Build a public bike path somewhere. Put together a bicycle safety contest for kids, or a bike decorating parade. You will get excellent coverage for any contribution to the youth of your community.
Just be careful, any stunt walks a fine line between unique and newsworthy and gross self-promotion. Newspapers and television stations are less likely to cover your event if it is just some commotion to call attention to your business. The first focus is to come up with something legitimately nutty or fun. The second priority is to casually let your sponsorship be known in a background kind of way – they call it “name recognition.”
You might even ask your local newspaper or TV station to co-sponsor the event with you. At that point, you’re sure to get coverage.
Next time you feel the urge to shake things up, don’t just bite your fingernails and put out a few more flyers. Bite the bullet instead. Get a little crazy! See what you can do with $100, or $1,000, whatever your budget can handle.