A lot of companies tend to see the holidays as dead air time, some even shut down their PR efforts altogether. The truth is the time period between Thanksgiving and the New Year presents an opportunity to leverage the perceived news lull with a year-end or year-beginning storyline. Often editors and media outlets are looking for interesting ideas to fill their “pages” during this holiday down time. Also, with the general slow-down in corporate productivity around the holidays, more people are reading news sites, blogs and following social media channels than during busier times of the year. So smart holiday PR campaigning can be a powerful way to get your company noticed.
The most important key to effective holiday campaigning is to leverage popular trends and storylines. Even if your product is a nerdy, seemingly non-interesting component in the technology stack (hey, not everyone is marketing a mobile phone), look for the larger story lines you can connect to or comment on. This may require thinking outside of the box but it always can be done.
Perhaps you can leverage a partner or customer to jointly address an interesting angle or co-sponsor a year-end study. The holidays are great times to announce results of surveys or make predictions about New Year trends. This is also the time to consider something a little more catchy or gimmicky as these types of news stunts often seem to fit in better with the sense of sensationalism surrounding the holiday season.
Here are some more important tips for great holiday campaigns:
Be believable – You can claim that any pitch is related to the holidays, but that doesn’t mean an editor will believe it. In order to achieve the best success, there must be a valid, relevant holiday tie to your story idea. Are you working with an expert source who can predict trends that relate to the Christmas season? Do you have a customer or partner that offers a great product perfect for holiday shoppers? These are the sorts of things that make for successful holiday pitches.
Start early – The most important thing to remember when pitching based on a certain holiday is to do it well in advance. Many pubs have their Christmas content picked out early, so don’t delay. If you start early enough you can also leverage editorial calendar opportunities to add momentum and additional stories to your PR campaign.
Finish late – While you should do your initial holiday pitching in advance, it can also be effective to do some additional outreach directly before the holiday. Many reporters will be out of the office or already done with their holiday stories, but the ones who are not may be more likely to read your e-mail or take your phone call because they won’t be receiving as many as usual. At a minimum, this is the perfect time to do some true relationship building and spreading of genuine holiday cheer.
Stand out from the crowd! – Bad holiday pitches can be like hearing “Jingle Bells” one too many times – painful. Best case scenario is you’ll be forgiven but worst case is you’ll leave a bad impression on your editorial targets. Personalize your pitch. Include a clear and attention-getting subject line. Don’t include an overabundance of unimportant information. Clearly communicate why your story idea is truly relevant and better than the rest – which of course includes name dropping and credibility points to substantiate your pitch.
If thoughtfully crafted and executed properly, holiday campaigns can be a very effective way to keep PR momentum going through the holiday lull while possibly netting some great attention you might not otherwise have received.