Stampede PR: from Russia with Love for Suitcase Bombs
In this article I’ll dwell on a promotional strategy called “Stampede PR” which is quickly kicking into gear among private individuals and is very popular in Russia’s business circles. On the line with you is CEO of PR Agency Prostor PR and Consulting, founder of stampede PR in Moscow, Doctor of Philosophy and PR technologist with 18 years of experience, Roman Maslennikov.
This article will update you on:
- sensational PR cases from Russia,
- information explosion technology,
- sources of information on this topic: books and films,
- perhaps you’ll better understand the resonant Russian PR campaigns of some luxury brands (Dior’s purse stolen by Gazprom cleaners, Shnur’s song In Louboutin Shoes and Louis Vuitton suitcase in the Red Square).
Origins of stampede PR
Stampede PR specialists in Russia learn from political advisors. The main guides to this particular art were written by Anton Vuima from St. Petersburg (Black PR) and Oleg Matveychev from Yekaterinburg (Pulling the Wool over Eyes — lit. Blowing an Ass into Ears). Incidentally, both authors are copyleft proponents, so their books are in open access on their personal websites http://vuima.ru/ and http://matveychev.ru/. Believe me, this makes the Russian language worth learning for overseas PR men.
As for foreign authors, I learned and still learn a lot from the works of Christopher Buckley, such as Little Green Men and Boomsday, and also from Larry Beinhart’s American Hero (reprinted as Wag the Dog). Hope you read those masterpieces. You should agree that no better films than Wag the Dog have so far been made about PR. Merchants of Doubt and Our Brand Is Crisis just suck a bit. A bomb in the suitcase of fictitious “Albanian terrorists” on the Canadian border is our all and everything media need.
We, stampede PR people, enjoy the above-mentioned works as well as two seasons of the mini series Absolute Power, whereas “classical” PR people are hostile to these. Why? The answer is simple. Most people engaged in the PR industry are timid, albeit diligent girls and women plus insecure men bound by a heap of other commitments. Everybody “caves in” to their bosses and clients, while the latter normally just want their “brand to be mentioned” that their sales might be boosted by PR. Only the professional stampede PR weirdo may impose their terms on the client. “This would not be any breaking news! You should do it differently”! Don’t want it? Good-bye then for now! While charging exorbitant prices for their services, stampede PR guys always enjoy a crowd of clients standing at the doors of their offices. Why are they so special?
Principles of stampede PR
Media space is oversaturated with news. I suspect this is not a unique Russian knowhow. You shouldn’t just yell your news louder than others push theirs — you need to serve it up in a very enticing package that many would want to buy it in a direct sense. Presenters performing like actors in stampede PR campaigns are paid decent money — from 10 to 300 thou rubles. So what is stampede or explosive PR about?
Stampede PR means maximum coverage of the target audience in maximum short time. Quite often these news hooks are “near miss”, but not always — a row can bring a positive outcome as well. “Social striptease in White Bear — striptease for retired folks. Entry by pension ID card and cardiologist’s certificate only!” Isn’t that a social initiative of genius? It’s good for everyone: old men and the strip club shown three times on TV in federal news.
Photo screen — an old man and strip club dancer
Given below are the key principles of stampede PR.
PRINCIPLE 1: Stampede PR looks like a true and hilarious story.
Robbery is a fact recorded by policemen who witnessed the stealth of a girl’s Dior purse with hundreds thousand of rubles inside — at the parking lot. Yet the position of “Gazprom’s cleaner” proved to be a journalistic factoid which had time to turn into a “meme”.
The giant Louis Vuitton suitcase in the Red Square did not impress too many people and had the advertising effect close to zero, but when it exasperated the general public and the authorities banned its further exposure and started sensationally dismantling it, a real hype, buzz and proper PR was kicked off.
The suitcase’s photos and screenshots
On one occasion a popular actor “privatized” a fur coat after his concert at the fashion show of a new collection in Ivagio shop, that is, just stole it. The next day the culprit flashed in all news reels, promoting not only himself, but the shop as well. “Celebrity Steals Fur-Coat!”. While the “recovery” process went under way, the company was mentioned 100 times in national news.
Photo of Mikhail Grebenshchikov wearing a fur coat
It follows from that occasion that stampede PR has 10–30% of negative coverage about the organizers and participants of a PR campaign. In the lack of backlash we invent it ourselves, or our staged show does not look credible. And haters are known to spread the news faster than fans.
PRINCIPLE 2: Good PR is as relevant as news. And it ought to be pegged to news (“what color is the frock?” “Solar eclipse”, “permission of same-sex marriages”, followed by iridescent coloring of logos). Newsjacking is the ploy successfully harnessed even by big companies for advertising purposes. And yet this is common PR, even if very relevant and creative. 012.3
Photos, screenshots of brands
And here is a conceptual reference to news. On the eve of March 8 Russia’s Presidential administration put out a release that “the wages of public officials will be reduced by 10%”. We released news about our client: strip club White Bear, whose workers also slash their prices by 10% following the example of our political leaders. The result is three TV features on central channels.
We should note that the press release from strip dancers was posted after 10 p.m. on Friday, but the news was flashed on TV screens nonetheless.
PRINCIPLE 3: Beautiful girls, usually nude or scantily dressed, are always present in stampede PR. This fact cannot but make us happy. Perhaps this is a covert motive why we are engaged in this business J.
“A sales assistant showed a striptease for a family couple”, though she just had to give them an invitation ticket to a strip show.
The Russian worldwide flash-mob action “No Pants Subway Ride” was vehemently protested by general public, but topped the Yandex News for 2 days.
Our recipe: if you do not know what to do, just get undressed! Russia even came up with a special project titled “Nude advertising”, whose organizers had long lamented the lack of brands and web links written on nude people — the heroes of news headlines. “So much advertising time is lost!” — was the response and they came out with a business project: advertising on nude people in public places in the hope for repercussions in news reels.
PRINCIPLE 4: Exotic animals are as good for stampede PR actions as girls.
Goannas dumped in a bank office as part of the debt — video
Raccoons “rob” a store of Yota Systems — video
Pythons “crept into” the office of a translation agency on the Fools Day as a joke, thereby attracting everybody’s attention to this tedious business — video
Therefore, if I see exotic beasties involved in PR actions I understand that our colleagues worked here. Incidentally, exotic peacocks were noticed among the passengers of the Boeing downed over the Ukrainian territory…
PRINCIPLE 5: A street show is the most fail-safe type of stampede PR. It also looks like truth, albeit very paradoxical. This concept is authored by St. Petersburg-based PR man Anton Vuima who staged the “sinking” of the 200,000-euro worth Hellmuth watch in the river Neva. The news hit international media.
Street shows under the patronage of our PR Agency were held in Moscow, the most resounding being a traffic accident with 5 limos involved (promoting the SPA club Tazik) and queuing up for carbonic credits (promoting the Botanoo company).
video of limos crashing
Thank you, overseas colleagues!
It should be noted that world flash-mobs often become a source of inspiration for Russian experts of stampede PR campaigns. Thus, “ice bucket challenge” turned into “Ice Kefir Challenge” in Russia, whereas the action “No Pants Subway Ride” topped the Yandex news for 2 days and was justly noticed by the founders of the action “No Pants Subway Ride” — improveverywhere.
Photo: Ice Kefir Challenge
Photo: No Pants Subway Ride
PR effect for business from explosive information
Explosive information brings the following results:
1. Habra effect on the site. Within several hours the site attendance spikes by 10–60 times and stays at this level from 1 to 5 days. You may collect the contacts of new guests of your website to extend special offers to them.
Thus the organizers of the action Buying a Month with a Millionaire — the coupon site SkidkaBoom — picked 4,000 new email addresses.
The fighting club M-Profi that organized self-defense courses on mpd-fighting selfie sticks offered to visit one lesson for free.
The coupon resource CoupoClub that came out (with our aid) with a clearance sale of indulgencies at a discount — the action lasts until Doomsday opened 7 representative offices in 7 regions during just one week, although the Club planned to do it during half a year. Yet the attendance figures that grew by an order of magnitude just forced this business to expand faster.
2. Growing brand queries — one month after the action. Our measurements show that even clients who had been obscure before a PR are searched 1.2–2.0 times more often in search engines by their company names. This means their names stick to people’s memory!
3. The action participant is referred to in the news as a “large company”. And damn, this is a rewarding experience, even if your company is a start-up. It’s difficult to find the office of the raccoons’ client, Yota Systems, in one of Moscow’s bedroom districts, since they have no sign. Yet Yota Systems was mentioned in overseas media as “Russia’s biggest company”. This was not surprising to us, because our 8-inch goannas immediately turned into giant monsters in the news reels.
By the way, the client does not need reports following a stampede PR campaign, since the result is obvious. It can be seen both in Yandex News and in Google Trends.
Who benefits from stampede PR
Who are the usual clients of stampede PR campaigns and who launch them on their own?
- businesspeople working on highly competitive markets — mobile apps (Icon), discount coupons (Discount Boom, CoupoClub), real estate (Home Advisor)
- social networks (Vkontakte, Facebook)
- gadgets and appliances (Yota Systems), Apple responds to PR very well (people queu up for mobile phones),
- fast food (McDonalds, Burger King),
- showbiz stars (models, writers)
- alcohol beverages and those who cannot advertise themselves,
- cinematograph (the “Eye of Sauron” action in the run-up to a new film about Hobbit, “Stallone in Prison” video as a preview of Escapist).
We can discuss these cases in comments!
So what did I want to say in this article? Russia has some daring PR people ready to share their experience with their overseas colleagues. I am on the lookout for all who do similar things abroad — in the US, UK and Europe. Together we can:
- Pool our efforts that we may represent you and you represent us in our respective markets;
- Exchange our cases and technologies of “creativity”, “seeding” and “stove-piping”;
- Just keep in touch, since very few PR men in the world have balls and they must stick together!
Doctor of Philosophy
CEO PR Agency Prostor PR & Consulting
author of Promoting a Super Firm, 101 Recommendations on PR, Famous at Last, Russian Version of Absolute Power (http://www.amazon.com/How-Start-Your-PR-Agency-Russia-ebook/dp/B0090NFN2S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1454081716&sr=8-1&keywords=roman+maslennikov) and a lot more
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