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This is the second of three entries on Word of Mouth techniques for PR agencies and professionals. In the last entry, I talked about the first word of mouth tool, guerilla marketing. Today, it’s the publicity stunt. Granted, one could argue that they are very similar, but in my book there is one basic, but important difference: the stunt is about media coverage, including consumer generated media.

A stunt is an unabashed and often brazen play for publicity. Again, Red Bull has a great example: the Flutag. Otherwise normal, semi-emotionally balanced folk leaping from great heights in a hilarious, self-effacing attempt to fly on contraptions of their own design. You can’t help but look, and it makes great TV.

Stunts are easy to spot: skydivers, streakers, even the ol’DJ-on-the-billboard are stunt stereotypes. But to be successful, stunts have to do more than just grab attention. They must create compelling images, a can’t miss photo op. TV and print photo editors think of what looks good on the screen or a page, and it doesn’t always need to be outrageous.

Before baseball player Johnny Damon defected from the Red Sox to the Yankees, Gillette had extensive coverage for the launch of its new razor thank to him. Johnny agreed to shave his Grizzly Adams beard in public for a local charity. Complete with attractive female barbers (it’s a man’s razor, after all), they captured the city’s attention. Johnny’s clean-shaven face looked great on the evening news, leading all to believe that the M3Power must be one helluva razor.

But the best part of stunts these days? You don’t need the traditional media to be successful. We have YouTube. Still, it’s a crowded viral world out there. To be successful, you should the same press-savvy thinking to your viral videos as (good) PR pros have for years with the Stunt.

And in a shameless plug, check out a video of a stunt my firm, CBC, did for Nantucket Nectars back in 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series. The World’s Largest Thank You Card brought thousands together from around New England, and made it all the way to the network news. Enjoy!

Next Up: Grassroots marketing.