12 Days of Christmas PR Tips

IMG_0274If you’re like me, you hate that Christmas is starting earlier and earlier each year. It used to be that the start of the holiday shopping season was the day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, which meant we could have a nice, quiet family gathering punctuated by some college football before venturing out the next day for the season’s hottest deals.

What does that mean if you are hoping to get your business in the news in time for the sliding holiday schedule? Get ready sooner, plan to run a PR campaign longer and be as creative as possible to stand out from the pack.

In my own version of the 12 Days Christmas (only now it’s probably closer to 45 days), here are some DIY PR tips to help you grab a stocking-full of media mentions:

1. Start Early: If you are in retail, then you should be planning for the holidays in early summer. Many print magazines are planning out their holiday issues 3-6 months in advance. Online pubs don’t start as early but you want to get the jump on the competition; plan on reaching out to them as early as September (now!). Newspapers might plan out their holiday content 1-2 months in advance, depending upon the size of the publication. Finally, TV news has the shortest lead-time but you still need to start early in order to be top-of-mind as they plan their morning and weekend news shows.
2. National vs. Local: Decide if you want to go after the national media or local ones instead. Keep in mind that going after national media is very, very hard because everybody wants to get national coverage, especially in lifestyle pubs that reach millions of consumers. If your brand depends upon local customers then that’s where you should focus your attention.
3. Call-to-Action: If you are planning a holiday event or there is some kind of date which is critical like a post-Halloween Christmas sale, then be sure to tell the media about it as they are often motivated by time deadlines (especially TV news).
4. Lists: Media outlets LOVE lists. In fact, they call them “listicles.” It results in more eyeballs for a TV show, hands on a newspaper or clicks to a website. The more unique your gift ideas, the better. For restaurants, you could ask if media outlets are doing lists on holiday beverages, dishes or party venues.
5. Email vs. Phone: Most journalists prefer you email them, unless you are already on a first-name basis and they can trust you to send good story ideas. Otherwise, try emailing a couple of times before picking up the phone.
6. Social Media: Sometimes you can pique the interest of a reporter with a well-written tweet or Facebook post. Just be careful not to abuse the trust with too many solicitations.
7. Doing Good: The holidays is a busy time for altruism and thus it’s harder to get on the radar of media outlets for any events you may decide to launch. Toy collections, coat collections, holiday meal give-aways…the list goes on. If you decide to pursue a holiday event then be prepared to start early and don’t give up on it if you don’t get much media coverage the first time through.
8. Holiday Trends: Not every news mention needs to fit into the perfect little holiday story with a bow on top. Sometimes you can ride a trending news story if it relates to your business and the holidays. Say there’s a massive amount of snow in Colorado and your business helps book ski tours then consider pitching a story about a perfect way to spend Christmas at a Colorado ski resort.
9. Don’t forget New Years: It’s part of the holidays, too! Expand your horizons by a week and you will increase your chances of getting picked in the news.
10. Visuals: Be sure to have lots of good visuals in the form of high-resolution pictures, images and videos to share with the media. It makes it that much easier for media professionals to work with you.
11. Samples: The jury is out on whether you should send unsolicited samples of what you make or sell to the media. The bottom-line is that sending out products won’t be the reason why you are picked for a story; it’s the quality (and timeliness) of your story idea. My recommendation is skip the samples; work harder on making your pitch memorable, then offer samples.
12. Don’t give up: Just because you don’t hear back from a reporter doesn’t mean you should give up. Wait a couple of days and reach back out. Just don’t turn into a pest, or cop an attitude – they are doing you the favor, not the other way around.

Those are your 12 Days of Christmas tips for a fun, festive holiday season. Feel free to ask us any questions or post any of your time-honored PR tips!

About Dave Manzer:  Dave Manzer founded an Austin PR and marketing firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave directly about the PR over Coffee blog, please email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.

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