Miley’s Viral Publicity Stunt

Miley Cyrus has recently been in the spotlight of news, social media and internet memes over her recent VMA performance. While many people are laughing and sneering, feeling embarrassed for Miley or believing she has been subjected to horrific PR; I’m not entirely convinced.

Here’s why:

Miley’s PR team meticulously planned the moments leading up to the VMA’s, the performance itself and the days following. While it may have looked like Miley had a brain lapse on stage, stripping off her clothes and twerking, her brand manager has confirmed that those moves were carefully planned, practiced and perfected months before the VMA’s – from the frightening tongue gestures to the famous twerking.

So why did Miley’s publicity team carefully plan a performance that would shock and outrage many of her fans? Let’s think back to Miley’s last year – she has been trying desperately to break free from her Disney girl branding. She cut her hair, got a few tattoos, wore some outrageous outfits and became engaged. Unfortunately for Miley her attempts to subtly rebrand weren’t enough to push out from her Hannah Montana image.

For Miley, there was only one way to break free from Hannah Montana and get recognised for the person she truly is – create a publicity stunt that would shock and stun her Disney fans and get the world talking.

There were two main goals for Miley’s VMA publicity stunt:

1. Kill Hannah Montana

2. Get her name on everyone’s lips

I think it’s safe to say that both of those goals were ticked off the list.

Miley’s VMA performance was all about virality. The performance was carefully staged to be tweetable and meme-able and the celebrity audience of the VMA’s was perfect for sending images and tweets on a mass capacity.

Shortly after Miley’s VMA performance, Twitter blew up with 306,000 Miley-related tweets per minute. Miley also received 213,104 new Twitter followers in the hours following her performance. Celebrities such as Cyndi Lauper and Kelly Osbourne tweeted their thoughts to their fan base, further contributing to the virality of her performance.

Hashtags such as #Twerk and #StayStrongBillyRay began trending. Vine has also exploded with twerk videos and I can’t count the amount of Miley meme’s I have seen on Facebook. For Miley’s PR team, it doesn’t matter what people say, as long as they are talking. And here we are over two weeks later and we’re still talking.

If you think the few last weeks have been pretty intense, be warned – the rebranding exercise hasn’t stopped yet. Like all successful publicity stunts, Miley’s PR team has used additional marketing and advertising of the VMA performance in support of the new Miley brand. Miley’s song ‘Wrecking Ball’ debuted the day of her VMA performance and has since sold over 90,000 digital downloads, not to mention being played constantly on the radio. YouTube has also been inundated with advertisements for Miley’s album and just the other day her new song with Justin Bieber and Lil Twist entitled ‘Twerk’ was leaked. Who knows what’s going to happen next?

While the shock and awe factor is a dangerous road to travel when it comes to a publicity stunt, I must say, Miley has worn it well. She’s stuck to her new brand image, made no apologies and she’s gracefully embracing the good, the bad and the ugly backlash. Miley’s brand manager has also publically announced that her VMA performance “simply could not have gone better”. I commend Miley and her team for achieving their goals and getting the world talking.

What do you think of Miley’s VMA publicity stunt? Would a more subtle approach have had the same viral effect?


Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

Why a great PR campaign is like a pop song.

This is going to be one of those blog posts that you shouldn’t judge by its title. Or maybe you should, depending on whether you’re a fan of pop music or not.

It dawned on me over the weekend, as I was treating myself to a nineties-music marathon (think Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Hanson…I am not ashamed), that there a number of similarities between a catchy, cheesy pop song and a successful PR campaign.

Don’t see where I’m going with this? Let me break it down for you.

Verse One: The Media Plan

Pick your favourite pop song. Now, sing the very first verse (in your head, preferably). What does it tell you? More often than not, it sets the scene. You are able to pick up on the direction of the song – it’s theme, genre, whether Pitbull is likely to make an appearance…the list goes on.

A great media plan should do the same thing. It should give enough context into the particular campaign – the strategy, outputs and measurements – without challenging War and Peace. A good media plan is clear, catchy and concise.

The Bridge: The Strategic Objective

The bridge is the repetitive part of the song that comes right before the chorus.

The bridge is generally the song’s underlying theme. You won’t be able to quite put your finger on it, but if the bridge isn’t there in the song, it just doesn’t sound right. The bridge brings the song together.

In a good PR campaign, this is the strategic direction of the campaign. Great PR is nothing without strategy. Take strategy away, and you have an empty campaign.

The Chorus: Key Messaging

Choruses are all about repetition. In a good pop song the chorus is catchy, and makes you want to sing along (Mmm Bop anyone?). It takes the bridge to the next level, and expresses the artist’s key purpose for singing the song in the first place.

This is your key messaging. Key messaging is the lifeblood of a great PR campaign. If you don’t have your key messaging organised, you don’t have a story. If you don’t have a story, you definitely don’t have an audience!

A great chorus is what makes the song. Key messaging is what makes the PR campaign. The clearer and catchier you make your key messaging, the more likely a journalist or your target audience will take interest in what you have to say.

Verse Two: Implementation

Verse Two is all about supporting the song. Without Verse Two, the song ends too quickly and listeners lose interest. A great Verse Two progresses the themes in Verse One, and leads into the bridge and second chorus.

This is campaign implementation. It could be a simple press release, or you could be managing a giant experiential marketing campaign. To be successful, the implementation must support the media plan and strategic direction, and be backed up by the key messaging. Now’s the time to bring out the ‘lalalas’ (promotional activity), high notes (growth in online presence) and maybe even a guitar solo (activation or launch event).

Song Ends: ROI

Before the end of a song, there will probably be the repeat of the bridge and chorus at least once before the singer trails off with their ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’. (In the context of great PR, this is constant referencing of the strategic objective and key messaging.)

Good pop songs leave you wanting more. They stick in your head and make you want to sing them at the next office karaoke night.

A good PR campaign will do the same. If projected ROI is met, the campaign leaves the client singing your praises and asking for an encore. The target audience will be humming along to your tune and journalists will be belting out your song to anyone who listens.

Now, and only now, is the time to take your bow.


Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.