So, July is here. School’s almost out for summer. The months ahead promise good times, great weather (we hope) and lots of fun with friends and family. So why am I talking about Christmas today, you may wonder?
Well, in the media and PR world, Christmas comes in July!
‘Christmas in July?’ What’s all that about?
‘Long-lead’ media such as national monthly glossy magazines are planned months in advance. Yes, journalists on monthly publications work anything from 3-6 months in ahead. Which means that content is being researched, planned and prepped right NOW for Christmas editions.
Editors will be firming up their December and January editions this month and next, and are currently cramming their diaries full with ‘Christmas in July’ press events.
Christmas in July press events
‘Christmas in July’ press events are typically hosted by brands who are keen to secure media publicity. They want to have their products and services featured in the media around Christmas time. And they know that to be in with a chance they need to be presenting their wares NOW in order to be considered.
Christmas: the biggest consumer shopping event of the year
Brands and business owners know that getting featured in the media is a great way to boost the visibility of their products or services. It’s no exaggeration to say that being featured in the media around Christmas time could make all the difference to a company’s annual sales.
But securing free publicity isn’t easy at the best of times. And the competition gets even tougher around Christmas time.
So what can independent business owners, like you, do to get Christmas media coverage?
Seven simple steps to securing Christmas media coverage
Make a mindset shift
It’s a common misconception to think that you have little or no chance of being featured in the media.
The festive season presents an abundance of free publicity opportunities for even the smallest of businesses. It’s not just for big brands!
Recognise that if you are the right fit for the media, and you get in touch to pitch yourself properly, that there is every chance that you could be featured and could secure valuable Christmas media coverage.
PR can be done even on a shoestring budget. What’s most important is having relevant stories or products to pitch, being proactive and getting your timing right.
Keep an eye on Twitter for feature opportunities
Not sure how you could help a journalist?
Well, a great way to get a feel for what the media is interested in is to follow the hashtag #journorequest on Twitter.
I’ve written about this free PR tool before. Journalists and bloggers use it every day to request information that they need for commissioned articles. So, watch out for Christmas themed
So, watch out for Christmas themed journorequests in the coming weeks, and see if your brand story or products could fit within anything shared there. If so, respond quickly and you could be in with a chance of securing media coverage. It can sometimes be as simple as that!
Researching the publications you want to be featured in is important, but often a missed, step in the PR process.
Only by reviewing what that publication, website, TV or radio programme, podcast or blog regularly features will you know how your story or products/services could potentially fit in.
Trust me, time researching will be time well spent. It will enable you to tailor your approach to the media and thereby increase the likelihood that your pitch will be successful.
Craft your Christmas PR pitch
Securing Christmas media coverage relies on you having relevant products or services or a strong Christmas-themed story to share.
Armed with the knowledge you have picked up from reviewing opportunities on Twitter, and from researching the publications you want to be featured in, the next step is to craft your pitch.
Do you make or sell things which are ideal Christmas gifts? If so, you could pitch them to journalists working on Christmas gift guides. Could they be positioned as a ‘Fab find for under £50’, or as a ‘Gift idea for kids’, ‘Gift idea for new parents’, or as a ‘Stocking filler’?
Or, do you have an interesting story that you could you tell that is relevant to Christmas?
- Did you start your business last Christmas and have you an inspiring story to tell about what you have achieved in your first year?
- Did a Christmas gift you received last year provide the inspiration for starting your business?
- Is there a trend within your industry that you could comment on, relevant to Christmas?
- Do you work over Christmas or choose to do something unusual on Christmas Day – perhaps volunteering for a charity? Do you celebrate Christmas in an unusual way, or refuse to follow traditions?
Remember, publicity can be focussed on you as an individual. It doesn’t always need to be about your business since Christmas-themed PR opportunities go well beyond the product gift guide features that are commonplace at this time of year.
Human interest stories are extremely popular. And, more often than not, if you are featured based on a personal story or experience, you do still get the chance to mention your company. So that’s a valuable mention of your business, even if the feature is not directly talking about it in the article!
Collate all the information before making your pitch
When it comes to pitching the media, you need to be able to supply all the relevant details about you or your product or service.
If a journalist reacts to your initial pitch, you need to be able to respond quickly and to provide any additional information that they may be after. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing the opportunity.
So, BEFORE you pitch:
- draft a short bio about yourself and the company
- have some good quality headshots of yourself available
- and, if it’s a physical product that you sell, have all the description, stockist info (website or shop location(s) and pricing details) collated and ready to send over, as well as product images – both ‘cut-out’ images on a white background and lifestyle shots showing the product in situ.
The key point I’m making here is to be prepared!
Don’t be afraid to follow up
It’s unlikely that you may get a response to your first pitch, but don’t be afraid to follow up with a second email a few days later.
Journalists receive hundreds, if not thousands, of pitches and press releases each day so it is quite possible that your first email could be missed completely.
Start with the nationals, then move onto regional and local publications
A final point I’d like to make is that once you are done with pitching to the national media, remember that there are still loads of opportunities up for grabs within shorter lead titles such as weekly, daily and online publications.
Come August, and certainly, by September most of the Christmas editions of the national monthly magazines will have been wrapped up. But this is the ideal time to start targeting shorter-leads publications, such as local and regional monthly magazines, websites, radio, TV and podcasts.
These have much shorter turnaround times, so they will be welcoming submissions closer to Christmas.
Get going with your Christmas PR efforts
Now really is the time to put some power behind your festive PR efforts.
It’s entirely possible for you to secure Christmas media coverage and to benefit from all the positives that can come from that. So get going and good luck!
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