Posted At: November 28, 2012 1:50 P.M.
by Sam Nathews
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… an overweight, elderly man bellowing “HO-HO-HO” through the whiskers of his long, white beard while riding in a magical sleigh filled with Christmas gifts and powered by nine flying reindeer?
That’s right — Santa Claus is coming to town. And along with all the toys and goodies, he has loaded a bit of public relations insight into his big, red gift bag for all the good little PR pros to enjoy.
Ol’ Saint Nicholas is one jolly old elf whose image is deeply embedded in the minds of children and the memories of adults all over the world (…awareness objective? Check.), and millions of children scribble letters addressed to “The North Pole” telling him the things they hope to unwrap on Christmas morning (…behavior objective? Check.).
He’s been the lead actor in more than a few Hollywood blockbusters, the fancy of many-a-singer (what’s up, Sinatra?) and has graced the pages of children’s books for generations.
Oh, and the best part? (Hold on to your mistletoe!) It didn’t cost him a penny.
Here are three gifts I’ve received from The Father of Christmas that can apply to PR:
Behold! The power of storytelling. SPOILER ALERT! Santa doesn’t actually exist, but he is very much alive.
For hundreds of years, the legend of Santa Claus has survived in the minds of children and adults, alike, from all different backgrounds through the proverbial time machine of storytelling.
How can you create a story about your client or brand that will live in the minds of the public long after you’re gone?
Make your own chimney. Adversity is a part of life, and it is something that everyone will encounter at some point — even Santa Claus.
In the movie “The Santa Claus,” Santa arrives at the home of a family that didn’t have a chimney. This is a bit of a hurdle in the present-distribution process, but did Santa let that hurdle stop the race? No, he used magic to make a chimney appear!
Now, it’s true that most of us don’t have the luxury of magic, but we do have the ability to think creatively to solve problems. When something unexpected pops up, don’t call it quits and head back to the North Pole to eat cookies, sip hot cocoa and hope for better luck next year. Make your own chimney.
Spread the Christmas cheer! By the way, when has Santa ever been invited to shimmy down someone’s chimney? In reality, Santa is a criminal. Every Christmas, he commits millions upon millions of instances of breaking-and-entering — and gets away with it!
Santa never shows up empty-handed. He leaves a gift in the living room of every home he (unlawfully) enters, and he dishes out a hearty “Merry Christmas” to everyone he meets. Those gifts (read: kind words and displays of appreciation) have earned Santa an endless reservoir of goodwill.
Now, I am in no way encouraging you to say nice things so people will look the other way when you break into their houses. I am simply saying that, over time, thoughtful words and actions can be woven together to form a safety net to catch us when we fall, gaining us a little understanding and patience while holding off the wolves for a while longer.
At the Bank of Goodwill, Santa is Chairman.
In the spirit of Christmas, I share these gifts with you. I hope Santa doesn’t mind my re-gifting! On second thought, that naughty list sounds kind of fun.
What has Santa taught you?