Conventional wisdom dictates that PR pros avoid media pitching during the holiday season. The belief is that everyone, including consumers, reporters and editors, is too busy and distracted to look at press releases or read news articles.
The truth is that December is quite a good time for sending PR pitches and winning earned media mentions. With additional seasonal advertising, both print and online publications must fill more space and publish more stories during the holidays. Reporters and editors become almost desperate to find worthwhile content as news slows.
PR pros who send press releases, articles and story ideas face less competition for media attention while other PR teams take a breather.
Here’s some media pitching ideas for the holidays:
Wrap up the year. Write a year-end overview that covers industry trends and how your business performed. The topic is ideal for regional business publications, trade publications and other niche publications as well as your company blog and other owned media. Many publications – especially trade outlets like technology – have annual New Year predictions guides, giving PR pros a chance to position their clients as experts, notes Kellie Flaherty at Walker Sands.
Make predictions. Predictions for the coming year can earn substantial media mentions toward the end of the year. They can establish executives and clients as experts in their field. “The key to securing coverage with this type of piece is to make the outlooks and forecasts as unique as possible,” recommends Mariah Simank at anthonyBarnum Public Relations. “Try to steer away from popular opinion, but only if it genuinely embodies the company’s stance.”
Be topical. Write an article that connects your organization to a news topic or current trend, such as the economy, a political issue or other trend.
Find a holiday connection. Some businesses are naturally a better holiday fit than others, but almost any company can find a holiday connection with some creativity. PNC calculates how the prices of items listed in the Twelve Days of Christmas cost in its annual Christmas Price Index. A fuel company could calculate how much oil would have been needed to light candles for eight days. Consider how-to articles that offer tips for surviving the winter or completing seasonal activities.
Evergreen content. Some PR pros recommend against pitching a weak holiday connection. Editorial calendars, planned well in advance, are already stuffed with holiday stories by the time December arrives. Instead, pitch regular news, creative evergreen ideas and thought leadership articles. Editors are especially receptive to content during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, known as a “news desert.”
Be inspirational. December is an ideal time for “feel-good” stories. In its Christmas Miracle, WestJet gives free flights to bring relatives scattered around the world together during the holidays and performs other good deeds.
Give back to the community. Publicize your company’s donations to charities and employee volunteer activities. If your business doesn’t yet support a cause, find a cause that aligns with your brand’s values. Often, it’s best to be modest about corporate charitable contributions. Let the charity make the announcement and encourage employees and others to share the news.
Remember social media. Publicize the earned media placements and owned media through social media. Try incorporating holiday themes and sayings into your content and create holiday hashtags and images that can be used on social media to highlight your business while staying relevant.
Consider little-known holidays. Christmas isn’t the only holiday during the season. Consider pegging a media pitch to less-known holidays, like national Ugly Sweater Day or National Download Day. To help PR and marketing pros, HubSpot publishes a list of holidays, including a downloadable template with automatic reminders. For National Letter Writing Day, Dec. 7, write an open letter to your online community or your brand’s followers and tell them of your brand’s plans for the coming year, suggests PR pro Faith Dye at PRCouture.
Create lists. Create and pitch lists. For instance: top 10 gifts for dad, or best apps for shopping. Such list-based articles, or listicles, typically perform well, especially if they have a seasonal theme.
Get ideas from social media listening. Social media users tend to frequent social networking sites more over the holiday season. A social media listening service can uncover those mentions and provide ideas for media pitches by identifying mentions of your brand, products, competitors and other keywords.
Produce multi-media content. PR teams can produce videos or podcasts on any suggested seasonal topic. Interview employees, customers or business partners to create videos. Many media outlets appreciate such visual content.
Bonus tip: Monitor your media mentions and gauge the effectiveness of your PR with a media monitoring and measurement tool. A subscription service will alert you when your company and products are mentioned in the media and report valuable PR metrics, such as reach and share of voice.
Bottom Line: PR pros often stop media pitching during the holidays, thinking people are too preoccupied to read the news. Because their activity slows, PR pros who promote their brands have an excellent opportunity to win media placements. The end of the year may not be the favorite month for product releases, but both media outlets and their readers are hungry how-to seasonal advice, year-end wrap-ups, and inspirational stories that warm their hearts.
This post was first published on Nov. 28, 2017, and updated on Nov. 21, 2019.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.