Think Bigger – Mindset
I don’t need to tell you that a good PR stunt can have a massive impact.
But when every idea seems to have been done these days or seems like it will cost a fortune, how do you have a hope of standing out?
The other day I found myself in a conversation with a chap at a children’s birthday party. We started talking about “fairy bread” but ended up talking about an idea for a potential national PR stunt
The chap I spoke to sold and repaired disability/older people scooters for a living and he had an idea already to help him promote his business that he wanted to share with me.
The idea was to drive one of his scooters around a local sports track quite a few times.
But that was it.
As you read that sentence did you get excited? No, nor did I as he told me that day.
So we started to brainstorm.
I put on my journalist’s head and started quizzing him about the world of mobility scooters to see if there was a better idea in there.
He told me about the world records that had been achieved on them. There was everything from the longest wheelie on a mobility scooter (I’m not kidding) to distance records.
They even replace the electric engines in them with petrol engines and then race them.
I asked how far they could go? He explained if he strapped on a couple of extra batteries, it could go for hundreds, even thousands of miles.
And then he told me that because he repairs them, he can fix them himself and that they are actually quite easy to fix.
Suddenly we were starting to see the possibilities.
The problem with thinking small
The problem with the original idea is that it just wasn’t newsworthy.
Maybe it would put a smile on a few faces and produce an Instagram post or two, but there was no “challenge”.
Even if you do 1000 miles on a sports field there are toilets, you can get off, you can go and talk to your friends, you can have a snack, stop and have a break.
In other words, there’s no story.
But driving a thousand, or 2000 miles on a mobility scooter? Now you have something.
Just picture it in your mind for a moment.
Picture a mobility scooter, so a buggy with quite small wheels and a seat, all exposed to the elements passing epic landmarks in all weathers. The rider is sat there on an uncomfortable seat all day long on a vehicle that has virtually no suspension.
Now that is more newsworthy….
Is it logistically possible?
….and it’s logistically possible too. He already told me that.
He’s a mobility scooter shop owner who can not only provide the vehicle but maintain it and drive it at very little cost.
The only real “cost” is time but he could spend a day going around a track in a way that no one notices or he could spend a week or maybe 2 weeks, doing something everyone hears about.
In terms of value per hour, going big makes sense and I think sometimes we need to think this way too.
A bigger story is going to have more impact
It’s going to take longer but a longer story also means more social media updates, more keywords, more hashtags, more challenges along the way and more chances to get that scooter seen in the press and on social media.
The longer the stunt lasts and the more epic, the more time there is for people to become aware of what you are doing. Many long-distance adventurers you see in the media pick up their supporters and press along the way, with often not much interest at the beginning.
He could be featured in every local newspaper in every area he passes. Each day he could be building the story.
Repetition of course means stronger brand awareness and crucially social justification for the story for both the public and the media to cover it.
Plus a bigger story has a bigger story arc.
We’re not just driving around a track one afternoon but we’re setting off on an adventure. We’ve got the breakdowns, the near misses with trucks, the thunderstorm he has to drive through wearing a raincoat, the sandstorms, the tiredness and the final destination coming into sight and the end.
What about the coverage
The aim is to promote his business, right?
Well, the media won’t want to mention his company but he’s got one big thing on his side. It’s hard to report a story about an epic trek on a mobility scooter if you don’t show the scooter!
His website and his name can be on the side of that. Just think of all the pictures of landmarks with his name plastered over them.
What media might cover it? Well, we’ve got the mass market media and niche of course. Let’s think mass market first.
The chap I was talking to was in his 30s and had a great sense of humour. In fact, as I talked to him I knew he’d be good on a quirky, fun breakfast show, perhaps on a music radio station. But also “good morning” type TV shows. He fit the demographic perfectly.
He also had a young daughter at that birthday party we were at who clearly adored him. That makes him even better for daytime TV. It allows him to portray a fun, quirky dad who loves his daughter. Who wouldn’t be warmed by seeing his daughter running up to him when he finished the trek on the last day?
If he could get the national coverage then the niche outlets would be bound to follow as they wouldn’t want to miss out.
For him, “niche media” would mean identifying who the influencers in his space are. We’re not talking about travel and fashion influencers, we’re talking about people who are influential in the space that he’s trying to reach.
There will be disability magazines and older people magazines, YouTube and Instagram channels aimed at these particular demographics. There’s every chance he could get coverage there.
By the nature of this story, I think he would need to be a little careful. He would need to make sure he didn’t alienate his niche audience by not coming across as mocking mobility scooters, especially if he was going on fun breakfast shows who would be laughing about the trip. But he could certainly head that off by doing it for charity.
Many years ago I had a pretty crazy idea of flying a professional racing motorcyclist in a small plane to an island off the coast of the UK.
The island is called the Isle of Man and every year there is a motorcycle race around the island called the Isle of Man TT.
When she arrived on the island, she would get the bike off the plane and ride it around the island’s roads then put it back in the plane and fly it back to the UK all within a day.
We would film everything, including her riding from the plane.
Expensive right? No.
The motorcycle racer loved the idea so much she was doing it for free and providing the motorcycle.
The plane was provided by a salesman for that aircraft because that type of aircraft is sold on its cargo space and weight-carrying capacity. He was providing it for free as well.
There was a catch which I talk about in the podcast this week but there was nothing logistical or cost-wise that got in the way.
Will the mobility scooter stunt happen?
Will the mobility scooter stun happen?
Sadly, I don’t think so and I think this is the whole problem.
Despite it all being 100% possible to do, I can picture all the logistics in my head, it’s hard for people to think BIG sometimes.
He has everything he needs. He has the machine and the ability to repair it. He’s got a media-friendly personality and a great story.
So what is stopping him, or us, from doing stuff like this? Nothing.
Take 20 mins or shut your eyes before you go to sleep tonight.
1: Think about the next PR stunt you’re thinking of, or if you aren’t thinking of one, try to come up with any idea to try these steps on. Let your imagination run wild.
2: What would demonstrate rather than tell what your organization does?
3: What would have a slightly fun side to it and involve people, even the organization’s CEO, even you?
4: Who would you need to be involved to make it happen?
5: How could you make it so that everyone involved got something out of it so that they provided their services for free or at the least felt part of the project and put their heart and soul into it?
6: How could you stretch this stunt out so that it would have more time to gain momentum and have a story arc?
7: How can you make it picture/video friendly?
8: And then finally, and this is probably quite an easy one actually, is how can you make it for charity?