It’s the busiest retail period of the year. Shoppers have been bombarded with Christmas marketing messages since before Halloween goodies were moved off the shelves. There’s a chance your offers will get lost in the tussle between tinsel and turkey.
If your marketing is all in place and you’ve worked out the deals you’re offering then have you considered your Christmas PR?
After all, there are still 27 news days left till Christmas too.
Here’s six low cost and no cost things you can still do to this year to make the most of your seasonal PR:
- Get out the decorations and get in the spirit – dress your windows, dress your staff. Resistance is futile. Some top end brands can get away with taking a ‘too cool for kitsch’ approach but most businesses don’t want to be seen a Scrooges so it’s time to deck the halls. You might as well embrace the excess – you’ll be much happier. Send a Christmas email to your customers and thank them for their business. Or put up a greeting in store or on your web site. Encourage staff to wish customers a happy Christmas. A cheery attitude costs nothing – miserable staff can cost you customers.
- It’s the season of goodwill, so make sure you’re doing something for nothing – and make sure everyone knows about it. Could you make a donation to charity? Draw up a Christmas quiz and give copies to your customers in return for a donation to a good cause? Give out samples of your produce – or offer mince pies and mulled wine to everyone for a limited period? How about a free gift wrap service or letters to Santa? These are all low cost ways to draw people to your products and it will only take one or two more sales to cover their cost so have a go.
- Take pictures: Are your staff dressing up for Christmas? Got a great window display? Made a mountain of pretty puddings? A colourful quirky Christmas picture stands a good chance of being featured in a newspaper. Avoid ‘grip and grin’ pictures – two people nervously clutching either end of a certificate or shaking hands is not an exciting or original picture. Try for something more creative – a tight close up, people lined up by height, looking back at the camera rather than head on, images taken from above or below – have a go and get creative! Then put them on your web site, send them to the local paper or pin them up in store.
- Don’t forget the ‘in between’ story. Newspapers are like every other organisation at Christmas – staff want to take time off to shop and celebrate. Many will run a skeleton staff over the festive period, only calling in more if there’s a major news story (remember the Indian Ocean tsunami hit on Boxing Day 2004, leaving news organisations scrambling to keep pace with the devastation). Bank holidays may have an impact on publishing schedules so make sure you know what deadlines are in your area. Many newspapers will try to have their ‘between Christmas and New Year’ editions written in advance – which makes it a good time to send in solid PR stories. A well written, generic seasonal story, with a couple of quirky pictures stands a very good chance of getting coverage at this time of year. Give your local paper a call and see if what you’ve got will interest their readers. Check out their Christmas plans and see if you can help them out.
- You can’t beat a Christmas pun – can you? Yes, they’ve all been done before but there’s no reason why you can’t rewrite a Christmas carol to suit your business or have your very own offer for everyone of the ‘12 days’. An outdoor retailer in Stratford upon Avon memorably announced a Christmas sale with the Shakespearean lines, “Now is the winter of our discount tents.” There’s a Christmas angle to suit every business, from having a green Christmas, through to ultimate luxury. Find an original angle but don’t over-do it or you could be ridiculed. You could play it totally straight – journalists get fed up with Christmas too. A serious news story might be just what they are looking for to balance out the angels and advent calendars.
- Be ready for the New Year – you already know what people do in the New Year – they pledge to save money, give up smoking, get fit, lose weight, book a holiday, reduce their carbon footprint, learn a new skill. Make sure your plans are in place to tap into these established New Year resolutions – and see if you can come up with some new ones exclusive to you.
So there you go – it’s not an exhaustive list and it’s unashamedly Christmas focussed. If you want to mix in other winter festivities to suit your customers, their preferences and your location then go ahead. Whatever you do, we hope yours is a very Merry Christmas!