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7 Sexy and Creative PR Ideas


noun /ˌkrē-āˈtivitē/

The use of the imagination or original ideas, esp. in the production of an artistic work

I  love to write posts about  creative ideas. And creative ideas are hard to find.  Go ahead — search for creative PR.

So as I’m perusing the web I try to make a point to save up links until I get to a point where I’ve got enough to share a snappy post.

And I’ve been itching to write this post because there are some really good ideas in here.  Here are seven creative PR and marketing ideas:

1. Self-deprecating humor

I’ve never met a PR pro that earned a mention in The Onion.  So when the online satirical bloggy-thingy-magazine broke the story that — 22-Year-Old Gets Job At Website — I had to check it out.  Given the national unemployment rate still sits well north of 7 percent, getting a job might actually be real news.  As it turns out the 22-year-old was Rip Empson and the website was TechCrunch.  Well, played TC, well played.

  • Lesson:  Every company pumps up new hire announcements with very pleasing press release quotes and it’s usually greeted with crickets. Many sites have even created self-submission directories where PR pros simply fill the information themselves and it might get published on a list of 100 others.  Want to stand out?  Be ordinary, or perhaps self-deprecating.

2. Choose your own adventure

Television may not be dead yet, but web video and mobile viewing like YouTube’s new subscription service are likely to chip away at the market share. This is in addition to the pressure from DVRs that enable viewers to skip over the ad-based revenue stream.  To stay relevant, TV programs are increasingly looking for ways to incorporate viewer interaction through social media. Hawaii Five-O might have been cooler with a Tom Selleck cameo, but the show invited viewers to tweet their choice of  possible endings. The catch? Viewers had to be tweeting during the actual broadcast to have their votes count.

  • Lesson: There’s something to be said for giving customers a stake in the outcome.  In this case, the program doubled-up on the drama and earned a bit of buzz in the progress. 

3. Have jingle; will travel

It’s hard to find something sexy about auto insurance. The subject matter alone is dry enough.  Then there are the bills, the rate hikes, the endless phone tree mazes to talk to a real person, let alone when you need to actually use it, it’s likely to be one misfortune after another.  One insurance company aims to put a jingle on it: SafeAuto has run a music audition contest for five years in a row.  Ragan’s Matt Wilson reported in SafeAuto hits PR jackpot with jingle contest, that “SafeAuto’s contest has generated hundreds of thousands of votes and more than 200 video entries. It’s netted the company tons of attention on local newscasts, social media sites, and, perhaps most important, search engines.”

  • Lesson: So maybe SafeAuto didn’t make Good Morning America, but those base hits add up.  It’s a steady, process-oriented and repeatable program the company has executed for five years running.

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4. Twitter chatter  

Big brand with large followings are lightening rods for hackers, mistakes and other mishaps.  Earlier this year both Burger King and Jeeps Twitter handles were hacked. Those stories, just months ago, may well seem long forgotten given the velocity and plethora of news in social media, but it was quite the buzz for a week or so.  The creative part is when the dust had settled, both brands recovered with grace.  @BurgerKing tweeted @Jeep “Glad everything is back to normal.”  Whoever was managing the Jeep handle didn’t miss a beat and responded, “Thanks BK.  Let us know if you want to grab a burger and swap stories – we’ll drive.”  MediaCupla has screenshots in a post titled, Burger King and Jeep turn Twitter hacking into PR opportunity.

  • Lesson: Social media has brought an age where people strive to be brands and brands strive to be human. Mistakes will be made, but how brands manage them often turns a crisis into an opportunity.

5. Time-lapse: Detroit Rock City

Few cities have been rocked as hard as Detroit during this protracted recessionary season.  So when local PR firm, Lambert Edwards & Associates, invested $1 million to build out a new office, which was news alone. However, the firm went further with the foresight to take time-lapse photography of the build out and released it in a video that is pretty cool.

  • Lesson: It’s a bit like the BASF tagline — how can we make our news better.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a million. 


6. Chocolate press release

It’s one thing to put out a press release to announce a new musical performance, but when that musical is titled Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the only thing paper is good for is a wrapper. A marketing agency in London, The Corner Shop, wrote their client’s press release in chocolate — and new twist on an old tool wrote Iliyana Stareva.  Dressing up releases comes with a caveat:  the packaging is no substitute for a good news angle. “Put packaging after getting the content right,” tweeted veteran journalist Erik Sherman. “Otherwise, you could be chocolate coating a dog turd.”

  • Lesson:  Sherman’s got a valid point, but so too did Marshall McLuhan when he said, “The medium is the message.” After all, “packaging” is one of the 4P’s of marketing.  How we deliver a message is often as important as the message itself.  Still, we can take  Sherman’s advice to heart and aim for both; I think the folks at The Corner Store did just that.  

7. Facts about sex

Agency Polaris B PR suggests sex in the headline was enough to earn attention when the Confectionery Manufacturers Association of Canada (CMAC) conducted a survey. Perhaps, but I think it was the facts about sex, not just the word sex that defied expectations. The survey found that some people would give up sex before giving up their smart phones or caffeine. That’s pretty astounding actually and CMAC dressed up the results with an infographic.

  • Lesson: Words, even visceral words, have longevity when supported by data. Better still when the findings are not what you might expect. 

What creative PR ideas have you spotted lately?

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4 Responses

  1. Love these, Frank! The first one is pretty clever, for sure. Though (and this might be a dumb question), how did that help Techcrunch? If it weren’t for you telling me that was Techcrunch, I would have never known. Were there a number of other articles that talked about it? Just wondering.

    1. Great question; they did what we should do with content: promote it! TC blogged, linked and shared it. Great for the community of writers and a clever way to bring back the occasional reader.

  2. I am a fan of choosing your own adventure and not just because I loved it as a kid. It is a unique opportunity to try and build engagement and investment.
    A group of us once had a conversation about whether that sort of plan shrunk the number of willing participants or not. Consensus was that it might present a smaller group but they were “more invested” and hence there was an opportunity to build a deeper relationship.
    I don’t have any hard data to support that, just gut feelings.

    1. Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I think there’s a lot of truth to that Joshua.  It’s a tool to tighten the bond between an organization and those die-hard fans!

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