PR – it’s all about the hook

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Whether it’s a quirky headline that intrigues, a photo that grabs attention or the first line of a press release so shocking you just have to read more – the PR ‘hook’ is all about standing out. Of course, it needs some substance or people wouldn’t read past the first line, but finding the right angle can make or break your PR story.

Often the ‘spin’ comes in the form of a creative stunt, deliberately designed to add news value to your client’s message. It may not be the headline you’d use in an advert but this is where PR and advertising cannot be confused. While an ad is yours to deliver your message of choice, PR must appeal as a piece of stand-alone news. Here are some examples of great PR stunts that made the news this last week so you start to get the gist:

Under the banner I’m calling “unique” stunts, animal charity Blue Cross successfully raised awareness for its cause by creating a downloadable pet “prenup” for its website. The legal document has been designed by lawyers to give cohabiting couples pet custody rights should they separate. While some may say it’s potentially a useful tool, it’s more likely to be a clever idea dreamed up by a PR to gain exposure.

This next one is from the realms of “weird and wacky” stunts. A London bar secured great media coverage this week by creating a rather gross sounding pizza flavoured cocktail. The London Cocktail Club in Shoreditch must have decided that the publicity generated would outweigh the loss of any customers put off by the frankly pretty revolting flavour combo – such are the sacrifices that must occasionally be made in search of the perfect hook!

The following example I’m calling the “textbook tabloid teaser” stunt. As we’re well aware, any press release that mentions certain parts of the anatomy will always grab column inches, but at least this one was for a very good cause. Photos showing how many aghast / admiring glances were directed at a woman’s cleavage over the course of one day (36 if you’re interested) were captured on a hidden “bra cam” and successfully raised awareness for The Nestlé Fitness campaign, aimed at encouraging women to examine their own breasts for symptoms of breast cancer.

My final example from the week under the sub heading of “shocking” stunts was the story that claimed to prove some Londoners would give up their eldest child in order to access free wifi. This cleverly crafted experiment by security firm F-Secure, and backed by European law enforcement agency Europol, used a ‘Herod clause’ in its T & Cs to demonstrate the dangers of using unsecured public wifi hotspots.

So there we have it, whether you go for something unique, wacky, brash or simply shocking, there are many ways to create the perfect PR hook to hang your story on, but there’s one key ingredient vital for success – bags of creativity!