Last Saturday’s PRSA event in New York City featured Peter Shankman as a keynote speaker. I’d heard of Shankman before (he’s the author of Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work–And Why Your Company Needs Them), but never had the pleasure of hearing him speak.
Investor’s Business Daily has described Shankman as “crazy, but effective.” Shankman defines himself as “a spectacular example of what happens when you harness the power of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and make it work to your advantage.”
Long story short, Shankman won’t everyone’s cup of tea, but his speech touched me and challenged me to redefine how I think about PR in a business setting and how I use PR tactics to develop my personal “brand” (he told us, “All [employers and clients] will know until they meet you is your personal brand”).
Shankman described effective public relations rather simply: If it works, do it again. It it doesn’t change it.
In his work, he’s been willing to try just about everything. One of the hilarious highlights of his speech was describing what he will NOT do. A tactic is considered off-limits if the news reports of the stunt contain one of the following sentences:
“Bail set at…”
“Time of death recorded at…”
and my personal favorite…
“An international incident occurred when…”
So long as that criteria is met, the idea is fair game.
Shankman encouraged the crowd to be different and to stand out. To paraphrase from my notes, “you need to be less than 1% better than everyone else, because everyone else is an idiot. We have been raised in a culture where the bare minimum has become acceptable.”
I don’t know how much I buy that we only need to be 1% better, but I am definitely sold on the idea of being different.
Not too long ago, Kent State University Public Relations Professor and fellow WordPress blogger Bill Sledzik also had the opportunity to see Peter Shankman speak. As you can read in his comments to this post, he doesn’t necessarily endorse Shankman’s vision. Or rather, does not find it to be revolutionary. I recommend checking out his blog entry entitled: Are social media changing the DNA of public relations? Not one bit!