How to 'sleigh' your Digital PR campaigns at Christmas - and beyond!

By Steph Holmes • 30 November 2020 • 4 minutes reading time

We can talk about Christmas now, right?

The John Lewis Christmas advert has arrived, while the famous “Holidays are Coming” jingle from the Coca Cola advert will no doubt be stuck in your head soon.

While Christmas may look slightly different this year, there is still the need to deliver on quality digital PR coverage for clients over a busy period, as well as the usual office fight over when is the right time to add Christmas songs to playlists, albeit this time over Slack.

With more demand, and what feels like even less time to deliver, here are some quick-win digital PR tips to help you sleigh your digital PR this festive season.

Making the most of existing content  

While we talk a lot about the need for evergreen content, the likes of which we can use time and time again, it’s important to note that this also applies to your Christmas ideas from previous years. If ALDI can bring back Kevin the Carrot, you can bring back campaigns of Christmas past also.

Be sure you have content ready that can be easily updated to focus on this year’s trends, whether it be data, visuals or product PR. A few tweaks can make a difference in gaining additional coverage from what you received last time in active outreach.

Make a list of key target sites you want your piece to feature on, while also newsjacking key terms featured in your story to gain extra and relevant contacts.

Even if your piece isn’t solely focused on Christmas, could you add a small section to use as a reactive bit of content which could then be removed after the New Year?

This is a great way to maximise your potential links. For example, this piece we did with our client tombola has been outreached numerous times. It was originally outreached in December 2019 with a focus on Christmas waste, since then it’s been back in outreach whenever a relevant coverage opportunity has arisen.

It was also recently updated during lockdown, focusing on lockdown waste, and has the potential to come back into outreach again, making it a great example of evergreen content.

Know who you are pitching to ‍♀️

Now, this seems like an obvious one, but we’ve all done a bit of newsjacking, found a journalist who’s covered a topic and thought great: done.

But Christmas is a prime example of where people get moved around and demand might switch. It’s a sad state of affairs, but due to the pandemic, there have been a lot of changes this year within journalism, so make sure to do your research, utilise your media database and Twitter to keep knowledge and contacts up to date.

Even the publication’s own website is a useful source of contact info, as they all feature a catalogue of articles written by the person you might be trying to reach. There is nothing to say they may have written that one article on a particular topic and never need any other articles related to that topic again.

If you are unsure when following up, or if they reply, ask if this is the type of content they usually cover and if not, what they might be looking for. It’s always advisable to get a conversation going with a journo and they could be a useful potential contact for another campaign down the line.

Timing is everything 

Needless to say, journalists need a break too, so get your ideas in early.

Whether you are pitching a story or product, content is sure to be flooding in from all angles, so don’t fluff your timing and end up missing out on any coverage. Journalists often start looking for relevant festive-related content in November or even sooner than that, so now is the time.

If you have a pitch, try and get emails out during – at the latest – the first week in December, with chasers to follow a week or so after. While there will be some journalists that work over the holidays, you’ll notice the out of office emails getting more frequent towards the middle of December.

Use tools like HARO, #journorequests or Qwoted to find any specific journalists looking for Christmas content. Make sure you reference where you have seen the request in the subject so it’s not seen as out of the blue, and therefore more likely to be opened.

Implement seasonal campaign ideas

Seasonal trends are always an obvious starter if you are creating a reactive piece of content for your digital PR campaign. Take a look at Analytics and any notable changes you’ve seen either throughout the year or from last year’s Christmas season. You could analyse ONS reports or get an FOI request out early to find some other data points that no one has picked up on yet.

Also, it’s not just about Christmas. New Year presents a heap of opportunity for seasonal content and it’s usually very different from what works for the Christmas period. Use keyword planner for data stats and get ahead of January. Topics such as these are always a hit:

  • Finance topics such as money-saving ideas
  • “New year, New me” content
  • Fitness and Wellbeing

Have a look to see what competitors are up to, what they have done in previous years and what you could learn from them. Try and enhance previous campaigns by offering a unique data set.

There are a lot of similar ideas out there, so use this to help you with your ideation process.

Christmas: It’s not for everyone!

While Christmas can be an easy focus for many brands, not all will be able to jump on the bandwagon. It might be a refreshing change for “normal” quality content to jump into a journalist’s inbox during a period of non-stop Christmas-content snowballing at them.

Make sure you stand out with short, catchy email subjects. This could feature a shocking stat, question or even a pun, there is still always a need to pitch these kinds of stories at any time of year and even more so if you work in a niche PR sector.

If you do go for Christmas-related topics, don’t try too hard to find the link – it can get tedious. The piece will feel icky and it won’t be as credible. If a journalist just so happens to go ahead with a piece like this (doubtful), readers will most definitely be able to tell.

A couple of examples…

Going ‘all out’ with the Christmas theme

This content piece we delivered for client Mattress Online looked at the true scale of Christmas waste and related them to common landmarks we’re all aware of, like Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House and more.

We uncovered heaps of shocking insight relating to the festive season and the UK’s habits, which not only ticked the Christmas box but also focused on the ever-important topic of the environment and our impact on it.

Making content seasonal rather than festive

While travel has been a hard one to pitch this year, travel and how to save money is always a winner. Take our campaign from 2019 with Ocean Finance looking at the most affordable European city breaks over the winter period.

In a world pre-COVID, winter travel was a huge deal, so this struck the balance of relevant content around the festive season, without the focus being completely about Christmas.

It’ll also provide an opportunity for future updates, to help us get more mileage from this piece.

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New Year Campaigns

I mentioned “New Year, New Me” campaigns earlier and this piece from Tap Warehouse highlighted the perfect opportunity to create a piece around fitness.

This was a simple survey piece, asking gym enthusiasts their hygiene habits pre/post-workout. Perfect timing, with the influx of gym-goers and diets starting in January, getting this piece links in the likes of Mirror, Bustle, Yahoo and Metro.

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Hopefully, this post will help you to maximise your Digital PR campaigns this festive/winter season and uncover some brilliant opportunities there for the taking, but if not, it’s absolutely worth getting the jump on next year and planning accordingly.

If you’re in need of an agency who can help with that and deliver outstanding results to boot, give us a shout.

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