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Give a gift to Sales: Thinking outside the Holiday PR Box

A lot of companies tend to see only two options for PR around the holidays: holiday story lines and New Year trends.  While these may be the perfect recipe for a good holiday PR campaign, it’s time companies think outside the box.  As noted in my blog post last year “Tips for Successful Holiday Campaigns”, I do believe 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 bloggers are looking for interesting ideas to fill their “pages” during this holiday down time.

However, as is with every good strategy, over time everyone gravitates to it.  So now, the noise around obvious holiday trends is so great, it’s difficult for a company to rise above the crowd.  Time for some holiday innovation, how about it?

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.  And everyone knows Sales is desperately trying to make their year-end numbers, so give the readers something that will potentially translate to a sale.

Customer case studies, product innovations and discounted products and services are three great alternatives to the holiday trend approach.

#1 – Customer case studies: I can promise you that in your existing customer base there is a hero waiting to rise to the forefront of your PR efforts.  Here’s the catch.  They don’t have to come from a behemoth company.  They just need to have a passion about what they are doing and believe your product is an enabler of their cause.  Also, with smaller companies you don’t need to maneuver the dreaded corporate PR watchdogs – many times these spokespeople have an open microphone to speak freely about what they are doing with your product and /or service.  Seek them out and then pitch their story.  Nothing is more helpful to a customer sale than a great customer testimonial.

#2 – Product Innovation: A lot of companies hold product innovation news until the New Year has rung in.  Why not be bold and let potential customers know what your product can do for them now.  In the midst of holiday “do’s and don’ts, a strong product announcement is like a breath of fresh air to writers who have been pitched trend stories ad-nauseum.   And it certainly won’t hurt your sales team’s efforts.

#3 – Discounted products and services: Let’s face it; we can’t get around this one.  Everyone is looking for a bargain during the holidays, so give your customers what they want.  With the advent of location-based offers at ridiculous prices, you can’t escape the fact that everyone is expecting at companies will make some incredible offer at some point.  Why not during the season of giving?  Instead of offering tips, offer a promotion.

Again, I do believe the holidays are great times to announce results of surveys or make predictions about New Year trends – or 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.

But please, they’ll be enough boxes under trees –  don’t let your PR campaigns get stuck in one.

Wishing all of Attain Marketing’s clients, colleagues and friends a safe and truly joyous holiday season!

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PR Strategy: The Importance of Blogger Relations

As I reported back in August, Traditional PR is Not Dead, by any means, but the influence of bloggers is certainly gaining ground and should not be ignored as you develop your 2010 public relations strategy.

According to a blog post entitled,Statistics Show Social Media is Bigger Than you Thinkby Erik Qualman there are over 200,000,000 blogs and a reported 34% of bloggers post opinions about products and brands.

With over 1.5 million new blog posts every day and 77% of active Internet users reading blogs, coverage in the blogosphere can greatly increase your potential brand exposure and drive interest from target audiences.

Another upside is the fact that today’s journalists increasingly rely upon blogs and microblogs to find story ideas and conduct research. According to a new survey from Middleberg Communications and the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), 66 percent of journalists use blogs and 48 percent use Twitter and other microblogging sites to assist them with reporting.

These findings shouldn’t surprise any of us considering the growing lists of journalists using Twitter and other social networks.

To engage this new audience of influencers, you will first need to find the bloggers that cover your space. Free tools like blog search engine Technorati or Google can help you build and research your list. As a starting point, I would recommend that you identify no more than 20 targets.

Next subscribe to the RSS feeds and get in the habit of reading the posts and comments daily. This will help you monitor target blogs for topics that merit commentary or present possible opportunities to engage — but don’t jump in just yet. Blogger relations require different tactics than traditional PR because most bloggers don’t get paid to cover a specific beat.

Technorati’s 2009 State for the Blogosphere report claims over 70% of bloggers are hobbyists and self-expression and sharing expertise are the primary motivations for these bloggers.

According to our social media maven, Susan Getgood, the success of your blogger relations program depends upon how well you translate PR and marketing messages into stories that will resonate with your target bloggers on some personal level. Unlike the news media, bloggers don’t necessarily require the story to be new. Relevant is often more important, although this space will have a tendency toward wanting the latest news.

First and foremost, make sure that you understand your target blogger’s motivation for blogging and personal interests before you attempt to post a comment or pitch a story. With all the noise in the blogosphere, you must provide real value in order to be worth a post or better yet a longer-term relationship.

Finally, make a commitment to be in this for the long haul because blogger relations are very personal and an ongoing program is more effective than a campaign approach.