How to Make the Holidays Merry & Bright
While most people don’t start thinking about the holidays until November or even December, public relations and social media pros are on a different timeline. The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year for brands, but it doesn’t happen just by chance: Maximizing what is one of the top U.S. consumer spending events requires strategic planning – much of which happens further in advance than you might think.
In the world of public relations, conversations with media about the holidays happen as early as mid-year and continue right up until a few days prior to the big day, as holiday shopping articles seem to publish earlier and last-minute shoppers get down closer to the wire each year. For brands, this means holiday planning could potentially start as soon as the previous holiday season ends.
“While it may seem bizarre to think about holiday shopping during the heat of the summer, it is important to stay close to clients and nail down the trends and products on which they want to focus,” says Kaitlyn DeSimone, senior account executive at FWV. “That way, when it comes time to pitch, you’re prepared.”
Long-lead holiday gift guide outreach for relevant clients should ideally begin in late summer or early fall, as publications often begin compiling gift guides and holiday features months in advance.
Standing out in a sea of pitches is a challenge PR mavericks face on a regular basis, but it is especially daunting during the holiday season. For clients who don’t have any major launches or initiatives planned for the back half of the year, holiday pitching can be an opportunity to gain much-needed traction. Consider how to stay top-of-mind with reporters. This could consist of carefully crafted and targeted pitches or themed product seeding boxes. Get creative with your story angles – consider how your brand’s product could fit into roundups ranging from good-for-the-planet gifts to inexpensive stocking stuffers to gifts for people that travel with their pets…and everything in between. And don’t forget about timely touchpoints like the beginning of giving season, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and last-minute gifts.
Last year, FWV developed a “12 Days of Coffee” series of pitches for client Melitta, known for its pour-over coffee and accessories. Each morning for 12 days, reporters received a fresh pitch in their inbox detailing original coffee recipes, kids’ crafts, DIY’s and gift ideas. These pitches resulted in a placement on Delish (17.8M+ impressions) featuring the best coffee brands of 2022.
For longtime client Wrangler, FWV conducted long-lead media outreach beginning in early fall, positioning Wrangler jeans and accessories as must-have holiday gifts and stocking stuffers for loved ones on your shopping list. Capitalizing on the increasing popularity of western lifestyle in mainstream fashion, FWV leveraged Wrangler’s western heritage to secure coverage in several gift guides of popular western and fashion publications, which was largely due to the agency’s understanding and expertise when it comes to industry trends.
The holidays are undeniably the busiest time of year for influencer marketing. As such, influencers are inundated with offers for sponsored content, so brands need to plan in advance to get their campaigns on influencers’ schedules. This also means brands can expect to pay a premium price as influencers often charge more for posts in November and December.
Thinking outside the box is always an asset in influencer marketing, especially when social media users are consuming large quantities of sponsored content around the holidays. Last year, FWV collaborated with several influencers on behalf of client Pendleton Whisky to create winter cocktails featuring the brand’s whiskey. FWV also coordinated collaborations with home décor influencers for client Bordallo Pinheiro and Vista Alegre to set Christmas and New Year’s Eve tables, with the goal of inspiring people to think of the tableware brand for important family moments. As an additional bonus, the brand was able to leverage the content on its own social channels.
“It doesn’t always have to be consumer packaged goods either,” says Megan French Calderone, influencer and experiential marketing director at FWV. “For example, we coordinated holiday-themed influencer posts for One Medical, a tech-focused primary care organization. We aimed to encourage people to get creative with their gift-giving, such as gifting friends or family a membership to the company.”
Promo codes and deals influencers can promote are great tools to drive conversions. Landing pages or trackable links are important to set up on the back end to best track effectiveness of each influencer’s ability to inspire purchases during this key time.
The holiday season comes early for marketers and can serve as a cornerstone of many integrated marketing strategies. If you and your team haven’t started holiday preparations, it is not too late, but time is of the essence! And don’t forget: You can always partner with a group like FWV to tap into their seasoned PR and influencer marketing pros’ knowledge and expertise to make sure you “sleigh” the holiday season this year.