All I Really Need to Know in PR, I Learned From Santa

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But only if the holiday rush hasn’t crushed you yet. If you’re (still) filled with the spirit of the season, please indulge me by reading this post with a fun, good-natured, Christmas-y attitude. ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all!

So the headline might be a bit of an exaggeration, but don’t fault me, we are all in PR. However, there are things that I do know in PR that I learned from the man in the red suit. So here’s my list of things PR-related that I learned from Santa:

Making a list and checking it twice – Can you imagine if Santa gave a Barbie doll to a child asking for G.I. Joe? Well, in PR, building lists is obviously a critical and tedious task. How many PR pros have been outed by bloggers because of stray pitches arriving in their inbox. If the Big Guy can do it (that’s a reference to Santa and me), so can we. Make sure the elves helping build lists are all aware of this important task, but in the end, the sender is responsible for what gets sent so check it twice or even thrice.

Plan, prepare and deliver – Santa gears up for the gift-giving season each year by planning and preparing months in advance. His planning and preparation ensures that he delivers. In PR, we don’t have months to prepare, and many times, we don’t even have minutes to prepare, but if we have a basic plan that we can go back to each time a crisis or media opportunity arises, we should be able to deliver. Never promise anything to the media that you can’t deliver within their deadline. We can’t all be batting a thousand like St. Nick, but we should try our best to.

Share everything —Have you ever received a cease and desist letter from the North Pole? Santa doesn’t trademark his likeness. In this social media world we live in today, I think it’s better to share images, logos, content, etc. with everyone and anyone who cares. I’m not saying don’t protect your brand image, but strike the right balance between sharing and being overprotective. I always tell clients to make their images, logos, content, etc. available for users.  It would help drive more awareness about their brand.

HO! HO! HO! – Probably the most recognizable words uttered in the world yet if we remove two of the three, it might get you a beating. Santa’s tagline, for a lack of a better term, has become an integral part of his brand. So don’t knock ad agencies if they come up with something witty that we, as PR pros, might find corny. We are all creative in our own way and have a way with words. Some of the ones that immediately come to mind are “Think Different,” “Can You Hear Me Now?,” “The Ultimate Driving Machine,” and “Don’t Leave Home Without It.” I’m sure you can name the brands behind all of these taglines without Googling them.

Big rep – When I say rep, I don’t mean PR rep. To this day, I’m still trying to figure out who reps him and the North Pole. What I mean is his reputation is as wide as his red pantsuit and as big as his black boots (how he gets in through the chimney is beyond me but I did see Santa Clause so I guess that’s likely how). He might be the most recognizable person in the world, more than Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Angelina Jolie combined. How many times has Santa’s name and likeness been dragged in the mud? From bank robbers to street scam artists have taken advantage of his cheerful image, yet we still all love him. It took centuries to build this kind of reputation so inform your clients that building a solid reputation takes time and effort, but worth the investment.

Simply care – Santa is associated with presents and children. And that’s been fantastic for brands that show they care for disadvantaged and needy children. It is the season of giving, but why end there? As PR pros, we are in a position to turn the spirit of the season into a year round effort. I always advise clients to incorporate an ongoing cause-related PR program into their annual plan. It is a great way to give back to the community and build an emotional connection with their audience. The love, goodwill and loyalty a brand receives can’t even be measured.

SPOILER ALERT: DON’T READ BEYOND THIS POINT!!!

In case you didn’t know, Santa Claus isn’t real. Now, don’t cry. The idea, personality, characteristics he represents should help all of us become better PR professionals and human beings.

BTW, if you represent toy companies (like I used to) and have toys to donate for a toy drive for the needy children at Austin Children’s Shelter, please let me know. A local restaurant client is holding a toy drive and you can have a chance to win a “Major Award.”

Have a safe and happy holiday season! Feel free to share what you’ve learned in PR from Santa by commenting on this post.

Joe Vasquez is the CEO of VASQ PR, a start-up firm he founded in 2010, when he left the lovely holiday lights of New York City for Austin. VASQ PR specializes in developing integrated PR and social media programs for clients in the restaurant, consumer technology, nonprofit and Internet sectors. He shares the same name as the Bishop of Austin and has fielded a few stray calls from parishioners.

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  • http://www.jsimienpr.com Jessica

    I really enjoyed this post, thanks for the tips!

  • http://www.jsimienpr.com Jessica

    I really enjoyed this post, thanks for the tips!

  • http://vasqpr.com Joe Vasquez

    You’re welcome. Santa is a PR guru and you’re on his and my nice list.

  • Lightbourne Creative

    Well said…summarizes many points I’ve just made to my PR students this semester. Will share your article with them! Hope you have a much blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of the One whom the original St. Nick served….

  • http://twitter.com/megcal Meghan Callaghan

    Nicely written post, Joe! Perfect way of describing PR, especially during this holiday season. 

  • http://twitter.com/gadgetgreg Greg Gazin

    Great Post!  I’d add “learn to listen” to the list!  Happy Holidays!

  • http://vasqpr.com Joe Vasquez

    Thanks Greg. That’s a good point. A lot of times we forget to listen. Santa is better at listening than most of us. Right now, I’m only listening to Christmas tunes to get me in the spirit. Happy Holidays!

  • http://vasqpr.com Joe Vasquez

    Thank Megan. Santa is a PR guru. :) Are you on the naughty or nice list this year? Ha…

  • http://vasqpr.com Joe Vasquez

    Thanks for your comment and sharing it. Like Santa, I enjoy molding young PR minds.

    Happy Holidays!

  • http://twitter.com/Littleyellowduc Lawrence everard

    The first seasonal item I’ve read… and enjoyed

  • http://cheapandeasymarketing.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/santa-is-his-own-publicist/ Santa is his own publicist « Cheap and Easy Marketing

    [...] the lovely holiday lights of New York City for Austin. A version of this story appeared on the blog PRBreakfastClub. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); [...]

  • http://vasqpr.com Joe Vasquez

    Thanks Lawrence. Santa’s got you on his nice list.

  • http://clnprnews.com/2011/12/21/6-pr-lessons-from-santa-claus/ 6 PR lessons from Santa Claus | CilaneNior Daily News

    [...] lovely holiday lights of New York City for Austin. A version of this story appeared on the blog PRBreakfastClub.  clnprnews linked it [...]

  • http://twitter.com/gadgetgreg Greg Gazin

    Yup! That’s the great thing about audio; it’s multitasking friendly! :)  Happy XMas, Joe!

  • http://www.prsanews.org/?p=89 PRSA NEws » Blog Archive » 6 PR Lessons from Santa Claus

    [...] Represent a toy company? Got toys to donate for a toy drive for the needy children at Austin Children’s Shelter. Let the author know. Speaking of the author, Joe Vasquez is the CEO of VASQ PR, a start-up firm he founded in 2010, when he left the lovely holiday lights of New York City for Austin. A version of this story appeared on the blog PRBreakfastClub. [...]