PR Strategies That Seem Counterintuitive

Once in a while, in your PR life, you must make decisions that seem to not only go against the grain, but actually completely against the message you’re trying to send. But what counts is the long-term result, even if the short-term results don’t seem to lead there.


But how does a counterintuitive strategy work? How do you know when it’s going right when it appears everything is going wrong?

Dealing With a Counterintuitive Message

It can be a very uncomfortable feeling when you realize your PR strategy is seemingly going to backfire. One minute you’re admiring your work, the next you’re scrambling to try and figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. The thing is, you may just be thinking too short-term.

Consider many TV shows, especially reality shows. Often, there’s a character on there that seems like they were brought on exclusively to cause havoc. They fight, they argue, they just seem to cause headaches for everyone involved. And audiences hate them…at first!

If you were to run a PR campaign about the character on Facebook, you may get some flack, as the tone would be overly hostile. You may even get some comments that you’re ruining TV!

Later on in the show, the audience goes through a revelation of sorts with these characters. They realize just how human that character is. That’s when something miraculous occurs. That same PR campaign on Facebook for that character sees a rush of “white knights.” These are people who defend others on the Internet when they see they’ve been disparaged.

Suddenly, the character is a favorite. Now you’re no longer “ruining TV,” you’re saving it!

What Happened?

The tide of public opinion is a very fickle thing. It can switch at a moment’s notice. And this is what you can count on when you’re attempting to pull off a PR strategy that seems completely counterintuitive to what you want to achieve.

I won’t pretend it’s not risky. One little goof and your campaign (and potentially your client) goes up in flames. But what it will be is noticeable. Not only to other PR pros who will congratulate you on shooting the moon. Customers will also take notice and give your client the attention they deserve.

It can be argued that customers will latch on to the campaign as they feel like they arrived there on their own. Like in the above example, they go through a natural arc from feelings of aggravation to ones of admiration, even love.

What’s a campaign you thought was going to fail but ended up working above and beyond your expectations?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *