28/11/19 // Written by AlexaCobbold

How Christmas can fuel PR inspiration

The run up to Christmas is a key trading period for many brands as well as a chance to give back to customers. During this time of year, businesses compete to capture people’s attention, aiming to place their offering in front of as many consumers as possible. The holiday season presents copious opportunities for brands to run multi-channel digital campaigns that can fuel Digital PR opportunities.

When executed effectively, PR offers diverse benefits. It not only develops customer loyalty but also provides a strong platform for generating interest in your presence while building your online footprint. These campaigns tell your brand’s story and engage your target audience in a direct, personal way. Before you begin your creative planning, it’s important to consider your campaign goals and exactly what success looks like to your business.

As Christmas commences so too does the parade of promotional campaigns and it can be challenging to create a unique angle. But how can you use these campaigns to get coverage? We’ve looked at how businesses are using the holiday season to fuel their digital PR strategy.

Campaigns that evoke emotion

Engaging your audience with emotion is essential during the Christmas period. Whether it’s to share a laugh or shed a tear, multi-channel campaigns at Christmas are becoming a rising trend presenting increased opportunities for digital PR. Industry leading businesses battle it out year on year to create the ‘winning’ advert that evokes the most emotion.

For example, the highly anticipated John Lewis TV ad was recently released featuring a young excitable dragon called Edgar who derails festivities with his fiery breath. This is the first joint advert between John Lewis and Waitrose which seems to be performing well with over 6.6 million views on YouTube in just 24 hours. Christmas campaigns are an opportunity to convey the human side of a business, evoking feelings of warmth, happiness and nostalgia while communicating brand values. Building this memorable connection between consumer and company creates an opportunity for digital PR coverage with the ad being covered in a multitude of red top publications including The Sun, Mirror and The Guardian and Daily Mail.

A brand is simply a mental representation in the mind of an individual. If this representation only consists of facts, products and features, there are no emotional links to influence buying behaviour. The Drum recently reported that 57 percent of consumers would be more loyal to a human brand, implying the richer the emotional engagement, the more likely the consumer will remember that business.

M & S’ recent TV ad focuses on their jumper product range taking a light-hearted approach with dancing and song. While supermarket chain, Aldi, has built a reputable Christmas campaign year on year focusing around ‘Kevin The Carrot’ and his family. Their PR efforts have proved successful with Kevin now becoming a statement plush toy within their offering. The toy has become so sought after, that in 2018 they were being sold online for £300 just hours after selling out in store. As a result, Aldi took the opportunity to build on this coverage by developing the storyline further and adding a whole host of new products to the collection.

Campaigns that create scandal

Although Christmas is the time for fun and festivities, some brands choose to leverage the holiday season to really stand out from the crowd. Iceland’s controversial palm oil campaign is an example of this. Unintentionally banned last Christmas by the broadcast approval body, Clearcast, the supermarket was accused of breaking advertising code by striking a deal with Greenpeace to rebadge a short film linked to political lobbying. A petition calling on Clearcast to overturn the decision gained over a million signatures and 65 million views online following removal of the advert.

Despite being banned on TV, Iceland’s record-breaking campaign actually created impressive coverage for the brand, ramping up public interaction around a global cause. It also helped to lift sales of palm oil free mince pies while elevating the business to the highest brand consideration score among supermarkets.

Campaigns that show goodwill

Christmas is the time for giving. Whether it be showing support to charity, donating gifts to customers or promoting goodwill, the holiday season is an accepted time to connect with your audience in a distinct, engaging way. Giving products away or donating to worthy causes helps build brand loyalty, but as everything you do should reflect your brand, careful consideration needs to be given to ensure efforts are genuine.

Canadian airline, WestJet, staged an impressive PR stunt when they asked their passengers at the airport what gift they would like for Christmas. When they landed at their destination, the gifts were delivered to them on the conveyor belt, wrapped in the airlines signature branding colours. The campaign went viral across social media on a multi-channel level leading it to be picked up by media publications and press. However, this level of goodwill is not always realistic.

Instead, relevant Christmas gifts and messaging can be used as part of your communication strategy to boost brand awareness and build on consumer relationships. With 69 percent of consumers saying they want an individualised brand experience, these communications should do more than just say thank you. Cadbury launched a personal campaign concept with their ‘Secret Santa Postal Service’. This entirely free service allowed customers to send a Cadbury chocolate gift anonymously, not only promoting their brand and product but also engaging the recipient through a memorable and surprising experience.

A long-standing PR campaign is the NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) Santa Tracker which has followed Santa on his annual journey around the world for over 57 years. Originally, the campaign gained traction by encouraging children to call NORAD for an update on Santa’s whereabouts. As tracking and technology advanced, so did the campaign, with the brand developing their own website in 2013. This site allows children to visit the digital North Pole where they can track their presents on Christmas Eve and play the new games that are released on a daily basis. The tracker now has its own Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts with NORAD also allowing contact via Skype or email and still accepts calls too!

NORAD is an excellent example of how businesses need to adapt campaigns to stay current with digitally advanced content. As a result, this campaign gains annual coverage from major redtop publications due to the kindness and goodwill it creates.

Reactive PR

Reactive PR should be leveraged over the Christmas period. Daily checks on journo requests such as gift guides and industry specific quotes are an effective way of gaining further publicity. If your brand has produced survey data which relates directly to a specific request, make this known. Additionally, be sure to always keep one eye on the news, joining in conversations where possible so you have the opportunity to piggyback on public topics. The same can be said by leveraging the topics discussed in the press within your campaigns if it reflects your brand and values.

Whichever PR route you choose, remember your Christmas campaigns need to appear authentic. Don’t lose sight of your customers, brand and tone of voice during the creative planning stage, and always keep objectives in mind. The focus is to think creatively, make your efforts stand out, and always keep relevant to your brand. Do you need help with your Christmas PR campaign? Contact our team to discuss more.