Want Happy Holidays? Plan Your PR Strategy Early

Each year when the holidays roll around, it means one thing for those in public relations: press opportunities galore. As soon as Thanksgiving is on the horizon, a public relations department should start pitching to the media. These are a few tips to help you drum up some good publicity during the holiday season.

If your public relations department is pitching a product, don’t wait until it’s too late to make it into a monthly magazine’s holiday gift guide. But even if you miss those long-range monthly deadlines, there are still weekly publications. Contact weekly or bi-weekly publications in November, and inquire if they’re planning any type of gift guide or holiday shopping section that’s not tied into their advertisers.

There are so many small retailers online who specialize in interesting products but who don’t have the marketing clout to run with Amazon.com and the major offline retailers. If you’re one of those small online retailers–or your public relations firm represents an online entrepreneur looking for free publicity–pitch a story to a writer or reporter you know.

And if you’re pitching a story instead of a product? The last six weeks of the year are notoriously slow when it comes to the news cycle. The pre-holiday season rush is the time to start pitching that story of yours. Even the wire services such as the Associated Press and Reuters run more features during the holidays. Obviously if you have a holiday themed story, you’ll want to pitch well in advance.

Some other things to take into consideration during the holidays:

Many journalists go on vacation, so freelancers carry a bigger workload. Consider a press release now to grab their attention. Call your favorite beat writer to find out if they’ll be around, and if not, who’ll be covering their beat.

Depending on how the early holiday shopping season goes, ad pages may increase in newspapers as retailers try to hit consumers in a blitz. More ad pages mean more content and writers scrambling to find story ideas. Get my drift?

Year-in-review pieces are in the works. Did your company/client do something spectacular this year? A smart public relations department will be trumpeting any positive news. If you publish a regular press release or newsletter, plan one during November or December with a year-in-review focus.

Does your company send out holiday cards or gifts? Don’t send them to journalists. Most media outlets have ethical guidelines about what journalists can accept. And although a holiday card from a local public relations firm is a nice touch, it’s also blatant ass kissing. If you have relationships with journalists, consider a non-intrusive email thanking the individual for their hard work this year.

Look for specialized story opportunities for publicity. Maybe you’re having a big bash to celebrate a great year or a modest shindig because times are tough?

If this is the slow season at your firm, consider some training. Big public relations firms should take the slow season to make sure the newbies on staff are familiar with clients, protocol, and so on.

The holidays are the season to be jolly, and a little good publicity goes a long way towards making everyone jolly. Oh, and don’t forget: start planning for next year now.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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