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Grab the Holiday Spotlight

These simple tricks of the trade can help you make the most of your seasonal PR efforts.

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November and December can be the most difficult time to get your message out. The cycle is not only crowded with holiday-themed gift guides, recipes and movie premieres, but the media agents themselves are dealing with the same holiday stresses as you. So while a well-timed campaign can give you results to celebrate at your end-of-year party, an inopportunely planned announcement runs the risk of getting lost in the seasonal shuffle.

Learn the Holiday News Cycle
The holiday news cycle offers a number of opportunities to highlight your organization's product or service as publications abound with special features on topics such as avoiding holiday weight gain or finding the perfect gadget for under $25. And gift guides aren't limited to the major holidays--if Hallmark makes a card for it, there's probably a gift guide.

If you're targeting a weekly or monthly publication, you need to begin pitching months in advance; for some glossies you need to pitch as early as June. There's a little more leeway with daily, online and broadcast outlets, but you still want to start pitching a couple of months in advance to get ahead of the competition.

To avoid missing out on an opportunity for which your product or service would have been perfect, check your desired publications' editorial calendars well in advance to see what specific topics media outlets will focus on around the holidays. Also, check in with the reporters you know to see what they are planning for their holiday-focused coverage.

Increase Your Visibility
A great way to get additional media exposure is through a feature news release. Written like a news article, feature news releases are used by media outlets as source material, or sometimes even used verbatim. Newswires produce feature news calendars for a variety of topics--including holiday themes--that correspond with publication due dates, and will distribute your feature news release to the appropriate editors in advance of these deadlines.

For a broadcast media blitz, consider a satellite media tour. SMTs are a series of television interviews over a two, three, or four-hour time period with your company spokesperson and media representatives. SMT producers such as MultiVu will assist with messaging, pitching, booking studio time, satellite uplink and tracking. Or, try a Co-Op SMT. Focused around a topic or event, Co-Op SMTs provide a cost-effective alternative for you to participate in an SMT because resources are pooled among all participants.

Don't have a product that makes a good gift? Consider whether there are any holiday related topics for which one of your spokespeople would make a good expert--e.g. a nutritionist offering insight into maintaining a diet during the holidays or an environmental expert providing tips for keeping your holiday "green."

A With All the Trimmings
The holidays also offer an excellent opportunity to incorporate social and interactive media into your marketing or public relations campaigns to gain additional exposure. Creative campaigns utilizing video, online contests or widgets are some of the most effective and economical methods to draw attention to your brand. The OfficeMax " ElfYourself " campaign--which enables users to transform themselves into dancing elves in free holiday e-cards--is one of the best examples, receiving 193 million visitors during the 2007 holiday season.

Typically, news releases that incorporate elements such as videos or photos receive significantly more views than those that don't, so make your holiday news stand out from the crowd by pulling all of your multimedia elements together within one multimedia news release that can be used to target media and consumers.

Getting your message to resonate during the holiday news cycle can be as challenging as getting your hands on the must-have toy of the season, but you can make your brand shine with the right strategy, timing and a little creativity.

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