The publicity stunt is the carnival sideshow of PR. Sure, they are used and sometimes get great results across many different types of programs and industries; having said that, I think most would agree that stunts don't show off the profession in the most positive, intellectual light.
However I got a different picture of publicity stunts in reading the New York Times Book Review recently. Tony Perrottet wrote an essay about litrerary publicity stunts. It is a great walk through the history of book PR. I share excerpts below, and encourage you to click the link and read the entire article.
- The most revered of French novelists recognized the need for P.R. “For artists, the great problem to solve is how to get oneself noticed,” Balzac observed...
- Hemingway set the modern gold standard for inventive self-branding, burnishing his image with photo ops from safaris, fishing trips and war zones. But he also posed for beer ads.
- But the tradition of self-promotion predates the camera by millenniums. In 440 B.C. or so, a first-time Greek author named Herodotus paid for his own book tour around the Aegean.
- Perhaps the most astonishing P.R. stunt... was plotted in Paris in 1927 by Georges Simenon, the Belgian-born author of the Inspector Maigret novels....Simenon agreed to write an entire novel while suspended in a glass cage outside the Moulin Rouge nightclub for 72 hours. ... A newspaper advertisement promised the result would be “a record novel: record speed, record endurance and, dare we add, record talent!” It was a marketing coup.