Let’s be frank. While consistency of message and output will always give better results long term, this doesn’t mean PR can’t generate great, high impact coverage over a short period if you need a boost or ‘quick win’. Take Christmas; it’s no secret that in the world of retail, Christmas is the Holy Grail, raking in around a fifth of total sales for the year. But did you know that in the world of PR and marketing, you have to be ready with campaigns in July to make the most of this opportunity?
According to the latest estimates by the Advertising Association, last year UK companies spent an estimated £5.6bn on marketing in the run-up to Christmas – £300m more than in 2015, and the most spent in the festive season yet. But while retailers define Christmas as the six-week period between mid-November and the end of December, the planning for this period starts much, much earlier. While we’re packing for our summer holidays, editors of the glossies will be planning – and in some cases finalising – the best Christmas gift guide. ‘Christmas in July’ events are hosted by major brands and their PR teams to showcase consumer products from their festive collection to the media. Originally targeted at monthly publications, over time the net has been cast wider to include daily papers, weeklies, online writers and bloggers, as well as all sorts of ‘influencers’, resulting in a greater mass of media publicity.
With the Christmas countdown almost (seriously!) upon us then, here’s our list of things to think about when planning your festive PR:
Timing is everything
Get in early. With print publications typically planning their holiday gift guides in July, pitching early is optimal. A missed deadline is a missed opportunity. For brands, businesses and the media, Christmas in July is all about showcasing collections and content and feature planning. Long-lead publications, the ‘glossies’, generally work 3-4 months in advance, but often start their Christmas issues even earlier. Now is the time to identify coverage opportunities for your product or service and start planning your news strategy.
Stand out from the crowd
While Christmas is a great time to gain coverage, it is also the time where journalists will be overloaded with emails and press releases. Therefore, it is important to stand out and provide a twist on a traditional story or eye-catching headline.
Know who you are selling to
Being prepared to start your Christmas PR also means understanding which products will work best in the gift guides, or creating a Christmas-slant for your product, as well as understanding if you have a good festive story.
We can help you to keep an eye on media requests for chances to get your business heard, as well as sending out updated news, offers and stories on your behalf nearer the time.
Share the right information
For both brands and the media, Christmas in July is about showcasing collections and gathering feature information and products. Lorraine Fisher, who worked on the 2016 Daily Mail Gift Guide, is regularly quoted as having said: “If we can’t find the right information, we just move onto the next product”. Using a proactive PR agency can maximise your chances of getting featured – it’s that simple.
For example, we can help you to prepare all the information a journalist would need to feature your product, such as high-res images of the product, the right wordcount description, the price and where it can be brought. Being prepared and quick to respond – with the right information – undoubtedly increases your chances of gaining coverage, especially if you’re not on the media’s radar as an established brand.
With the chance to preview the all-important festive ranges, journalists have the power to decide what will make the ‘hit’ list in the run-up to Christmas. As the industry becomes increasingly competitive and editorial magazine space decreases quickly, retailers and brands need to establish or develop their relationships with journalists, cementing coverage now and ensuring they’re top-of-list for additional opportunities in the future.
Think about the bigger picture
While PR can be used to create a Christmas spread for your products, make sure you’re ready to meet demand if you do make the hit list. Whether to ensure supply gets through to stockists or that your ecommerce operation is robust enough to meet peaks of demand, it is simply criminal when the business operations can’t fulfil PR success.
For more information about how PR can help you to make the gift lists this Christmas, call Emma Beardsley on 07946 899590 or Gail Titchener on 07795 167902, at Firework PR.