As Felix Baumgartner stepped off his precarious ledge 24 miles high, 8m people around the world were watching the live YouTube stream of the Red Bull Stratos challenge.

And it can teach all communicators a thing or five:

  1. Give PR time. If you want to get big PR for a big event, you can’t bring your PR team in at the last minute. To achieve the results they have, the PR team (and agencies) working on the campaign have been in place for over five years.
  2. Don’t leave anything to chance. Such a solid team means that there is plenty of time to test and refine activity and ensure that all coverage opportunities are maximised, all deadlines met and all contingencies planned for.
  3. Control the message. Organisers were clear that the jump wasn’t to be reported as just another stunt. From the outset, the team have relentlessly pushed the scientific benefits of the jump, ensuring science journalists were fully briefed and all spokespeople repeated the scientific benefits line.
  4. Imagery is everything. From the infographics used in almost every newspaper article on the jump through to the live feed, the PR team used imagery as much as possible. And only by providing top class content were they able to control the video and images used by media, while also using this same content to drive social media advocacy (e.g. 216,000 likes of a picture in 40 minutes).
  5. Harness the power of quick tactical wins and ‘long tail’ follow up. The appropriate social media response to the ‘we knew we could c*nt on you’ typo generated headlines of its own and the media coverage has kept coming due to, literal, wrap up stories.

And the only serious voice of criticism about what must be the PR campaign of the year, is that Red Bull didn’t do enough with its captive 8m audience. And as brands and campaigners increasingly become media owners in their own right, an awareness of the power of our ‘owned’ channels will become ever more important.