‘Tis the PR season

      37 Comments on ‘Tis the PR season

Graphic from volacci.com

I walked into a local department store this weekend and discovered aisles of merchandise for Halloween, Thanksgiving, AND Chanukah and Christmas. Clearly American marketers have determined it’s not too early to get people thinking about and buying for the holidays ahead.

It’s also a great time for public relations practitioners to associate their organizations with people’s holiday mindset. Reporters, bloggers and producers seek holiday-related news, so there are plenty of opportunities to pitch an expert, product or service that can be tied to the season. It’s the PR person’s job to have stories ready to be placed in the appropriate target media.

Cision, the leading earned media software company, notes in its marketing materials: “Every brand wants to stand out during the holiday season. Securing placements on retail blogs and in lifestyle publications helps you reach your target shoppers and earn their trust.”

Communication agency marketingmaven.com notes, “According to a 2016 Google consumer survey, nearly seven in 10 people are undecided or considering multiple gift options during the holiday season. By having your product featured in a holiday gift guide, your brand can experience added exposure, an increase in website traffic, and a bump in sales.”

Beyond the gift guides are online and print publications, each featuring typical seasonal articles about the most popular costumes for Halloween, cooking and menu ideas for Thanksgiving, and the hottest-selling toys in December.

“Some businesses are naturally a better holiday fit than others. However, with creativity, you can find holiday themes to include into your content, no matter what your organization does,” says PR consultant Michelle Garrett. That’s true. It’s not just about costumes, gifts and decorations.

For example, Halloween offers possible stories about child safety, healthy eating, dental care, and creativity. Thanksgiving pitches could focus on family dynamics, history, travel, and football. During Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanzaa, media people like stories on faith, charity, clothing, holiday movies, and lots more. That’s why PR people need to identify ways to link their businesses’ products and organizations’ services to the appropriate holiday, and be ready to tell unique stories to their targeted publics.

Your thoughts?

37 thoughts on “‘Tis the PR season

  1. Katrina Tacconelli

    I think this is very interesting to say the least. The holidays are the best time for public relations people because they get to promote the holiday and help make the audience view it in a positive light. The hardest thing about Christmas is to get people into the Holiday season that normally don’t celebrate Christmas.

  2. Allison Wolf

    It is interesting to think of how the holidays are no longer a single day in the world of business. For example, Christmas went from a day to two with Christmas Eve and now Christmas is starting in late October. The event itself is no longer the focus. The holiday encompasses so much more now. And it really does affect everyone.

  3. Maya

    The holiday season seems to be the most pivotal period for business performance, so it makes sense why companies ramp up their PR efforts at this time. Since the holidays are all about feelings of togetherness, love and warmth, there’s a really key opportunity for businesses to show their truest selves and stories in an authentic, but naturally fitting way.

  4. olivia abbatiello

    As public relations professionals, it is our job to always be on the look out for opportunities to reach our target audiences. The holiday season offers a unique and interesting way to pitch stories on subject matter that may not be touched on at other points of the year, but are still relevant and interesting to the stakeholders of whoever our clients may be.

    It feels as if the holiday market is flooded earlier and earlier every year, with as Prof. Morosoff states, every holiday from October to December being highlighted in retails stores and publications all over the US. While this may aggravate the non-planning consumer like myself (please don’t let me see Christmas trees in October,) it offers even more leverage and opportunity on the side of the PR person to pitch a specific story or expertise during this wider time range.

  5. Daniella Opabajo

    I used to work at a nonprofit in Washington D.C., that focuses on health insurance accreditation. During the holiday season like many offices, each cubicle was overly decorated with Christmas decorations. An important client came into the office for a meeting one day and say all of the decorations and made a comment about how there were no Hanukkah decorations in the office. The next day almost half of the office has Hanukkah decorations. I guess my point is that there is such this as over saturating your consumers and participating in something just because you feel like you have too. During the holiday season, I understand the reason why PR practitioners mold their messages around the holiday time. But as consumers, I feel like we are getting smarter and actually getting tired of the overdone holiday placements. I believe as PR practitioners we have to be creative enough to blend in our messages during the holidays without being too repetitive but still connecting with your brand.

  6. Gianna Losquadro

    Ah yes, the age old tactic of public relations practitioners using the holiday season to place messages. I can remember being a PR intern at agency a few years ago, getting a lead from a journalist about her holiday gift guide for a national newspaper. I got that lead in July, a full six months ahead of the season! I think, as consumers we see it happening frequently, where holidays start getting pushed on you before the summer is even over, but it’s ten times as worse behind the scenes in PR. PR practitioners and marketing executives strategize about this well in advance. Yet if it’s done in a distasteful way, too far in advance, I think it can be a big problem. I don’t think it borders on inappropriate to start pushing a holiday well in advance. But perhaps that’s either a) coming from someone that’s worked on Christmas gifts for the media in June or b) coming from someone who really loves this time of year.

  7. Jazmin Quinci

    Linking a brand with a faith related story is an excellent idea! I thought saying, “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” is a potentially disastrous move for a business advertisement or within a placement. I believed advertisements must remain neutral to avoid excluding Jewish, non-Christian, atheist or agnostic consumers. I did not consider the wealth of messaging options a brand may use during the holiday season. For example, during Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa a brand can tell a story for each or just associate their product with family, kindness, even forgiveness and/or reconnecting with friends or family members. I do know promoting positivism should always be the goal whether a company chooses a faith based salutation or not. Fall and winter holidays aside, there is no brand that matches Hallmark’s Mother’s Day campaigns. Their commercials get me teary eyed every year. They know branding and how to connect with consumers. I know when it’s time to get holiday cards, I will find what I need, even if I have little to nothing to say. I know there will be a card(s) with the right sentimental message and all I have to do is pay for it and sign my name. If only shopping for each holiday or birthday could be this easy! 😉

    1. Anonymous

      I think PR practitioners using the holiday season to place messages is an excellent tactic to brand your company. At the same time holiday marketing/branding has a tendency to overdone and “cheesy”. I think if a brand is going to use holiday elements within their branding it has to be unprecedented and unique. The holiday season is already flooded with holding marketing schemers so its important that a company incorporate original elements within their branding. I enjoy seeing television shows incorporate holiday themes into their episodes. For example, the Netflix original series “Stranger Things” was released Oct 27th and the premise of the show is about “eery, not of this world monsters” but its not blatantly about Halloween.

  8. Patrick Picarsic

    Everybody in the West world knows about Christmas. I’d be curious as to whether anybody has explored other religions, and the potential to exploit their holidays in some commercial manner. We really took the spirit of giving to a crazy level. There has to be potential to make money off of other holidays for the resourceful retailer. Has anybody ever researched Buddhists or Hindus to see commercial opportunities in those calendars?

  9. Amina Antoury

    Very interesting post! The holidays are definitely a time for PR practitioners to engage their target audience. It is way for businesses and their consumers to connect and in some ways build a relationship with the brand.

  10. Paula Chirinos

    Through my experience as a consumer, I can definitely say that I’ve felt pressure to buy products from major brands for my holiday gifts, rather than those from knock-off, cheaper products. This is mostly a result of the plethora of advertisements that peak particularly during late November. Any toys that I’ve bought for anyone for example, were either Crayola toys or dolls made by Baby Alive. To save money, I’d usually get these from discount stores but the fact that the product was made from a major brand, makes the gift seem more meaningful. Now that I’m more aware of the psychological tactics that go into selling products, I might consider trying out other brands or making handmade gifts.

  11. Matthew Leong

    The holiday season is always very hectic. Around this times, many companies try to promote themselves in a way that will cater to this season. Do they go the route of making their promotions around Christmas or Hanukkah? The PR team must be ready to defend the choices made at these times, as promotions can go out too early or too late. There is also the issue of offending someone because the holidays do have a religious background to them. Businesses, however must capitalize on the season to sell their product, while still remaining respectful of the origins of said holidays. The PR team must be on their toes in order to understand consumers to keep them attracted to the product or service in question.

  12. Ian Budding

    I feel that the more businesses implement themselves within the context of the current times, the more successful they will be in attracting people (and future clients) towards them. People will start to pay more attention to your business if you start doing things related to the holidays earlier than others. Some will see it as, “Oh, it’s too early for advertisements like these. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet.” Others, however, may enjoy it and find the need to get ahead in their shopping just in time for the approaching holiday so they won’t have to worry about it later. The more exposure you get, the better in terms of business productivity.

  13. czackarypenn

    I have always felt that holidays in America are geared especially towards consumerism, which slightly upsets me personally but is great for PR professionals. Companies are planning their holiday tactics increasingly early on with an attempt to gain more customers because they have had more time to consider the product. For some consumers, like myself, seeing Christmas decorations in stores in October can be annoying because it shows that companies see consumers as dollar signs and not people. For holidays like Thanksgiving, many people really look forward to “saving money” on Black Friday more than the actual holidays themselves. From a PR perspective, getting your message out there early and often makes sense, but PR professionals should make sure they do not market their products too early in the holiday season so as annoy some consumers such as myself.

  14. Matt Howard

    While I do think the fall holiday pushes take place too early, the point is that organizations we represent as PR professionals are out to make a profit. Fall/winter holidays are very important because consumers are spending a lot of money on gifts and other products. It is important to try and get products featured on gift lists and in other prominent places. Brand exposure is crucial during the holidays in order for organizations to move products. While purchasing goods aren’t arguably what the holidays are all about, the truth of the matter is that people spend big in the holiday season and companies want their products in front of peoples’ eyes as much as possible. Good marketing and PR can help make a product the hottest gift of the year and take a company form relative obscurity to titan of an industry.

  15. Jessica Gilmour

    Holidays are the best time for businesses to build their brand message. With spirits high and consumers constantly in search for the perfect gift, companies need to make their brands recognizable to consumers. When there are so many options in the market place it is pivotal to make your brand part of conversation.

  16. Jeffrey Werner

    I think it’s beneficial to PR practitioners to take different approaches for companies during the holiday season. Most of the time, it’s all about selling toys or decorations or savings, but I always appreciate hearing those stories about people’s goodwill. It’s refreshing from all the hate and bigotry that headlines the news. Yes, goodwill gets more attention during the holidays or after disasters than any other time, but it shows there are people who try to help others, even if it’s only during a specific time of year or after a tragedy. Having more options to tell these goodwill stories rather than just trying to sell a product to consumers definitely benefits a PR person and an organization

  17. John Grillea

    Great post Professor Morosoff! The holidays are when many brands do their best numbers of the year. It’s primetime for many PR practitioners to maximize their work by executing their strategies during these months. As I may not personally enjoy how brands combine all of their tactics before we even get to one holiday, I can still understand the business side of it. PR practitioners need to always be one step ahead. It’s one of the best times of the year to gain the most exposure.

  18. Haley Nemeth

    I think that it is very important for a PR person to pitch and adapt to the seasons and holidays. This time of year is the most hectic time for shoppers and businesses, so if a business can get their name in the front of people’s minds then that is a win. This also happens, not as extremely, in the summer. Brands want to adapt and associate themselves with the fun and free feelings that the warm weather brings. Even though decorations are beings set up way before these winter holidays, it targets the mass number of people that enjoy this time of year. By setting up early the brand maximizes its impact by having a longer time frame to get its message across in a holiday theme.

  19. McKenna Heim

    What I think is interesting is that it goes along with exactly what we covered un the class: it kind of seems like the company itself has a conscience! That is good PR. They are definitely decorating earlier and earlier every year but their messages are just getting safer and more refined.

  20. Nichole Bingham

    I think that it is very important for businesses to get into the holiday spirit. Since the holiday season is also very busy, people will be shopping and looking at brands that may peek their interest. Businesses and organizations should be putting their best foot forward because first impressions are everything. You want both old and new customers to remember your name(s) in the near future. Especially for last minute shoppers who are looking for gifts or ideas for the holidays.

  21. Aisha Buchanan

    I definetly agree . The PR practitioner should be several steps ahead of the curve when pitching for holiday seasons. I do notice that after Halloween, the Good Will or companies such as H&M will do a coat drive starting from the beginning of November until early January. I’ve seen advertisements about H&M coat drives in InStyle magazine. PR practioners should be thinking ahead while keeping an eye on the social climate when getting ready to pitch.

  22. Shayla Sales

    There is definitely a huge market advantage around the holiday season for both PR practitioners and their brands. Advertising holidays earlier and earlier each year is a strategy that doesn’t seem to fail because it implants the seasonal message in the consumers brain that this is the shopping they should be focusing on. PR people can absolutely use the holidays to associate positive messages with the companies!

  23. Greg Liodice

    I totally get why places put the Christmas decorations up so early. The Christmas season is a business’ heaven because that’s when most people go out and spend their money on their products. In my opinion, I think that the promotion is happening way too soon. I was in Roosevelt Field Mall two weeks ago, and the Christmas trees were already being put up. I told my friend when we walked in, “Can we have Halloween first?” The fact of the matter is, promoting Christmas so early diminishes the purpose of holidays such as Halloween and Thanksgiving.

    The whole purpose of marketing the holiday season months in advance is understandable, but I’m personally not a fan of forcing the act. It ruins the concept of promoting for other holidays. Christmas will always be there, and people won’t forget about it, so why not promote other holidays?

  24. Megan Pohlman

    Although Winter holidays are my favorite, I do think they started a little too early this year. As I walked into the Roosevelt Field Mall yesterday, I stumbled upon the set up to take pictures on Santa’s lap. This is absurd to me considering Halloween has not even occurred yet. However, it is smart of PR practitioners because as people are shopping for their costumes, they will be reminded that Christmas is quickly approaching and may start buying gifts early. The holidays do seem to start earlier and earlier every year, but companies want and need as much of the prime time they can get.

  25. Ana G Canahuate Torres

    I believe that it all comes down to culture and how those designated events can impact the consumers life. For example, in the .U.S. certain brands can attract consumers through positive PR by sending out a positive message about having fun during Halloween and enjoying the tradition of it. Now in another country the brand might use a different PR technique or even a different holiday like christmas which is celebrated in various countries. I do believe that there is a sense of rush when it comes to the changes of the season because the month of October has not been finished yet, but we are already thinking about christmas just because of the heavy persuasion given by countless brands.

  26. Steven Freitag

    Holidays always seem to come to your television sets and stores before it actually enters your home. Christmas is mentioned before Halloween happens and more than a month before Thanksgiving is even talked about. It always seems to me that companies use the holiday season to force their way into a consumer’s mind by advertising their product until it dies immediately after December ends and people return their unwanted gifts. People say they love the holidays and have the Christmas spirit, but companies don’t give people a chance to ease into the holiday season. PR is different however, when companies have a purpose for getting their name out there for safety reasons or donating all purchases to give turkeys to poor families are messages I can get behind. My one fear as someone who wants to become a TV commercial producer is that I will have to be one of the people who make the advertisements for Christmas while it hasn’t even hit December yet.

  27. claudiabarnard

    Every single year it seems like stores start decorating and advertising for the next couple of holidays earlier and earlier. Although I question why there are christmas trees displayed in the mall right now, these decorations are a good PR strategy. Seeing decorations for a specific holiday linked to a brand or product makes me think of that holiday and how I may need to pick up presents or candy earlier than usually. Realizing this makes me associate that brand with that holiday until I get what I need to get.

  28. Delaney Barac

    When I walked in to the mall last weekend for supplies to make a Halloween costume, I was definitely surprised to see Santa taking pictures with young children. Holidays are important when it comes to gaining customers and selling merchandise. Starting holiday advertisements early, is one way of ensuring the maximum amount of people are aware of the fast-approaching holiday. You often hear phrases like “christmas snuck up on me this year!”or “I have been too busy to go shopping”, companies try to erase these thoughts by starting to market earlier in the year and get the message to customers that it is time to start spending money. While the marketing may seem annoying for us, it is safe to say that it has gotten all of us talking about the holidays- the exact point of the advertisement.

  29. Unice Kim

    I’m not going to lie but it makes me nervous that all of these holidays are coming up, because I’m a last minute shopper. I agree great PR makes a difference during the holiday seasons. Consumers are more likely to buy products from brands that have good PR. With all of these holidays coming up, this is a great opportunity and time for PR people to work their magic.

  30. Justin Ayala

    The holiday season is definitely the prime time for PR practioniers! I agree with what PR consultant Michelle Garrett stated in the article and believe it to be true as well. Despite the type of businesses or organizations PR people may work for, each of them can use holiday themes as a vehicle for public relations efforts.

  31. Raffaella Tonani

    Since I came to the US I was surprised to find Christmas decorations before thanksgiving or even before Halloween.

    If businesses put up decorations and products related to the holiday at the time, they probably studied their target audience enough to know the effort and investment is going to be reimbursed in some way. Companies that do not have products or services related to the holidays can offer discounts through direct email or on social media to launch offer with an engaging message like tag a friend. Alliances with brands or influencers that do relate to the holidays somehow, so social media cold redirect one to the other, or a charity they month could contribute to.

    No matter who/what you work for, people during holiday are excited and likely not but service/product. To be in their radar of the targeted audience the PR practitioner for each business must evaluate what is driving such public to buy, positioning, possible alliances ad con

  32. Kristina Barry

    When it comes to the issue of the “Christmas Creep”, companies introducing merchandise and decorations before the traditional start fo the holiday shopping season, and companies wanting to gain more exposure, I understand where many of them are coming from. People are buying more than usual at this time of the year, making it very competitive for companies. But on the other hand, I know when I see Christmas commercials on T.V, or ads in the paper, way before Thanksgiving, I pay no attention to it and go on with whatever I was doing. Many other people tend to turn their heads too and ignore the messages until its time for the holiday season. These companies are pushing too much for profits and branding possibilities that they are taking away the meaning of the holidays. This makes many consumers upset which is why I think that the holidays should be “introduced” into stores one at at time as they come, not all at once.

  33. Jessica Sodowich

    I understand the desire of more exposure for many organizations, however, I feel that a lot of the time, starting so early in the year turns consumers off to the entire holiday season. People are definitely more likely to patronize your company if you get your message in front of their face as soon as possible, but the process no longer seems to be an enjoyable one. Black Friday has become more important than Thanksgiving, and the season seems to have developed its own culture, full of stereotypes and stress-filled “relatable content.” As a nation, we have moved towards this anxiety-riddled, dare-I-say… “Krampus” style holiday season, rather than the jolly “Santa Claus” style we usually expect. Public relations could probably do a lot to help bring this back, starting with not opening doors for Black Friday sales at 6pm on Thanksgiving evening.

  34. Rosaria Rielly

    During the holiday seasons, there are so many products on the market that get you roped into thinking that you absolutely need it, often times resulting in a excessive amount of pointless decorations or products. This is the time that companies can make the most money, and that they can also show how they are positive choices for those first time customers. This is also why holidays have become so reliant on marketing and why there are products available so early to the actual holiday, making them drawn out. I personally believe that the holidays are such an exciting time, but my making them so materialistic it makes them drawn out and makes the real purpose of celebrating them up to such high expectations, which is often different than their actual purpose.

  35. Kaitlyn Cusumano

    It seems every year that department stores, malls, and local shops are decorating for the holiday season earlier and earlier. The reason for this is to maximize the amount of new costumers they can gain during the season. The holiday season is a good time to bring in new costumers because people are more apt to try out new products since they are buying more than usual. A challenge many companies face is trying to become noticed. Therefore, they use anything to try to get a leg up on their competition.

  36. Abby

    Holidays are the prime time for businesses to bring in a lots of costumers. Any time a businesses or service has an opportunity to have many viewers/costumers is a good time for a company or organization to put themselves in the mix of that market. Seasonal peaks in businesses is a prime time for a company/organization to get noticed. The goal is always to have your brand seen positively to as many people as possible, it’s no wonder that the holidays would make a good time for brands to collaborate with other brands to get the most exposure.


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