Monthly Archives: November 2012

Hooray! There’s still 27 PR days till Christmas

Blackboard with 27 days till Christmas written on it

Only 27 days to go

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

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A marketing man in charge at the BBC? Heavens!

Tim Davie’s appointment as acting director general at the BBC has led to raised eyebrows. How can a marketing man possibly take charge of a news organisation? Surely it’s a job for a journalist?

Tim Davie, acting Director General, BBC

On the one hand it’s a valid question. The crisis which led to Davies’ appointment was caused by “sloppy journalism”. The BBC’s reputation for accurate, balanced and accurate investigative journalism has taken a severe hit over the past few weeks.

But the BBC is much more than a news organisation. Insisting the top job only goes to journalist make no more sense than insisting it goes to a documentary maker or film director.

With its journalistic reputation shredded the BBC needs to restore confidence and regain trust. A man with a marketing background could be just the person to help improve the way it’s perceived.

Like many businesses (and make no mistake, the BBC is a business) the corporation has seen its share of the news and entertainment market chipped away by other channels and other platforms.

If it is to survive it has to adapt and compete. It has to promote its programmes, its stars and its sub-brands if it’s to keep audience share.  It has to attract and persuade people to choose what it offers ahead of what can be found elsewhere. It’s no good producing top quality programmes and news if there’s no-one to watch it. It has to be packaged and sold – that’s a job for a marketing man.

Spending more than a decade heading the marketing division at Pepsico, Davie knows all about competition. Few food and drink manufacturers have a product monopoly. The battle for market share between Pepsico and its rival Coca Cola is expensive and on-going.

Don’t forget marketing is a critical business function. The Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ‘the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising’.

If that’s not what the BBC needs in the long terms it’s certainly what it needs as it looks for a permanent Director General. The public needs to be reminded of all the things the BBC does well. A bit of hard sell in these areas while it puts its journalistic house in order could be just what it needs.

And who knows? The next director general may well be an ex journalist. Lots of journalists have business skills to match FTSE 100 directors. But if it is someone with a marketing background, who’s experienced the cut-throat world of retail competition, would that be so terrible?

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