PR freebies

Interesting piece by Danny Rogers in The Guardian today on the topic of PR freebies – a tried and tested way of getting the attention (not always for the right reasons) of journalists and bloggers:

Last week a journalist from the Australian daily the Standard, in Warrnambool, Victoria, was alerted to the news that a live shark had just been left on the doorstep of his newspaper. As far as we know, the shark delivery wasn’t part of a quirky PR campaign, but most journalists will have received equally surprising gifts at some point in their careers.

Earlier this year, many hacks received a parcel containing a bottle of Imperial Leather bodywash on a bed of lettuce leaves with an attached message: “You wouldn’t, would you?” – a PR stunt from Vitacress, which sells salads that it says are never washed with detergents.

Levi Strauss jeans once famously sent journalists pairs of (fortunately unworn) underwear as part of its “shrink to fit” campaign, while the editorial team at PR Week still have nightmares about the time one wacky PR decided to send in chocolate-covered brussels sprouts on a particularly warm day.

I always felt it is a fine line between smart giveaways and shameless stunts that leave a bad taste in the audience’s mouth.  It has to be good enough to stand out, useful enough to not be immediately binned and remarkable enough to get your brand talked about – a bit of bravery required.

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