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As we bask in early September sunshine it’s hard to imagine Christmas is just around the corner. But in the marketing world, it is looming. I am now starting to receive journalist requests for Christmas gift ideas and festive-themed features on a daily basis, so any brands that have not yet planned their strategies needs to act fast to get ahead of the curve.
So what should marketers be doing to get ahead?
- Firstly, check on the lead times of magazines. Most monthly glossy magazines work between four and six months ahead, but many will leave their Christmas-themed guides as late as possible, because they will want to guarantee brands have enough time to confirm availability and cost of all their relevant products.
- Compile a schedule of deadlines, starting with long-lead monthlies, regional glossies and broadcast programmes that will be produced far in advance. Phone them up to find out who is looking after the Christmas pages or content and ensure you have their contact details. Next on the list will be weekly magazines, weekend supplements and regional papers, followed by daily newspapers, short-lead radio and TV and online publications.
- Plan your marketing strategy. How will you link your products or services to the festive season? If you are a restaurant, you could publicise a special Christmas menu, or if you manage a drinks brand, perhaps devise some special themed-cocktails.
- Investigate potential partners to team up with. For example, a food brand could collaborate with a famous chef to compile a specific Christmas menu, which would increase column inches.
- Make sure your campaign is relevant. Journalists will sense a tenuous tie-in a mile away and may react in a way that can cause damage to the brand. Increasingly, journalists use Twitter to vent frustration at spurious PR stories, so think carefully about the relevance of your story.
- Explore the opportunity to purchase media lists of those who are working on Christmas pages. This will save you a great deal of time researching the most appropriate contact.
- Don’t forget to integrate your campaign with all other marketing elements. Ensure activity is incorporated, where relevant, with your social media output, direct mail and SEO campaign.
- Finally, if you are targeting media with a story that will go live over the Christmas period, make sure you contact journalists far in advance. Newspapers will be thinner over these few weeks, with a significant amount of regular features and profiles exchanged for annual round ups. Also, remember that you or a member of your team will have to be available for any media enquiries, so make the individual’s mobile telephone number visible on all press materials.
Victoria Harris is an account director at social media, SEO and PR agency, Punch Communications, with over ten years’ experience, primarily in media relations. Punch is a UK based PR, social media and SEO agency with the skill set, reach and client base of a global agency. To find out more about online PR and Punch please visit www.punchcomms.com or call the team on +44 (0)1858 411600.