Published on Nov. 29 2022, at 12:11 p.m.
by Breanna Erickson.
As the winter holidays approach, it can be easy to get wrapped up in blankets, festivities and hot cocoa. However, we, as PR practitioners and students, must be able to keep steady relationships with key publics no matter the season or holiday.
A blog by Kelsey Nayman delved into how PR practitioners use their niches, such as hashtag campaigns, specialized branding and more to campaign throughout the winter holidays.
Another strategy is purpose-driven marketing. This is a strategy that allows an organization to center external communication around social causes and events that align with its values. While the broader purpose of this strategy is not necessarily about holidays, that does not mean that holiday-specific messaging works any differently.
Sydney Gamble, publicist at Exclusive PR, has had multiple successes working holidays into client messaging. Alongside the team at Exclusive PR, one client, a rehabilitation facility across Illinois and Texas, used National Recovery Awareness Month to its advantage by hosting an event that taught audience members about the harms of drug use. The event included news crews, people in recovery sharing their stories, vendors, and a nurse who provided free Narcan training and samples to use in emergency cases.
Using purpose-driven messaging allows for more pointed and “topical” communications with audience members. Topical communications are messages crafted for a specific day, place or event. But how can you determine what is topical at the moment? Using future-forward thinking (and a list of national holidays) can help you identify opportunities to send messages.
“We really try to make sure we’re on top of the game,” Gamble noted, in reference to writing pitches and releases to send to make sure their story would be ready in time for any upcoming holiday.
Gamble explained further that with lesser-known, fit-for-messaging holidays happening every day of the year, keeping track of what is on the horizon can get messy.
Charisse Barnachea, account manager at Mekky Media Relations, explained that she tries to begin planting stories two or three months in advance — even up to four months for higher-demand winter holidays.
Winter holidays (such as Christmas, Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, New Year’s and more) are cutthroat in the world of journalism. “Journalists get inundated with pitches at this time of year,” Barnachea explained. The art of being able to craft an eye-catching, captivating pitch is crucial to making sure your message is taken on by outlets.
Nicole Fallon, freelance journalist, decided to experiment by tracking her inbox for one week. During this week, Fallon received a whopping 131 pitches and only used seven. She went on to explain that the pitches that were picked up were personalized, timely and filled a gap in coverage.
Purpose-driven messaging is something that is at the disposal of every PR team. Using festivities, big or small, can be the difference between a lasting, meaningful message and another pitch lost in a journalist’s overflowing inbox.
One way that Barnachea is able to stay on top of the packed year is with a detailed pitch calendar. With this tool, Barnachea and her team at Mekky Media are able to keep track of pitch topics, dissemination dates and client branding.
Outside of the winter holiday season, Barnachea noted that the first quarter is generally a busy time for herself and other PR practitioners, “want[ing] to start the year off strong.”
Barnachea noticed how influential the restaurant partnerships were in her home city of Chicago during the 100 Days of Summer city-wide programming.” The warmer 100 days in the Windy City allow for events, patio dining and seasonal menus that the locals like to maximize on.
While winter holidays tend to be the most celebrated throughout the world, there are holidays and observance celebrations throughout the year. So yes, spend this winter wrapping yourself in blankets and warming yourself from the inside with a nice cup of cocoa … after making sure there aren’t any special events to leverage your messages on around the corner.