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Merry Pitchmas! Five Tips for Effective Holiday PR

Frank Krolicki

If you’re a PR professional, chances are you’ve sent out a holiday-related pitch or two. We always hear that PR outreach tied santato relevant, timely events is the most effective way to get the media’s attention, so naturally holidays – especially Christmas – are frequently tapped for promotional efforts. Pitching for holidays can require a different process than usual, though, so in my experience it helps to consider the following launching your festive PR efforts:

Don’t wait too long – The most important thing to remember when pitching based on a certain holiday is to do it well in advance. I know, I know, I’m writing this post with Christmas only a week away, so this will do you little good now. But there are plenty of other holidays coming up and next Christmas will be here before you know it, so it’s not too early to start thinking about it now. Many publications have their Christmas content ironed early, and even daily newspapers’ journalists tend to have their stories ready in advance so they can relax over the holidays, so it’s best to start your pitching in early-to-mid Fall.

Do additional outreach right before the holiday – While you should do your initial holiday pitching well in advance, it can also be effective to do some additional outreach directly before the holiday. Many reporters will be out of the office or already done with their holiday stories, but the ones who are not will probably be more likely to read your e-mail or take your phone call because they won’t be receiving as many as usual. It’s not a good idea to bank on this approach, but it can definitely help make your initiative even more effective.

Make sure your angle is believable - A PR person can claim that any pitch is related to the holidays, but that doesn’t mean a reporter will believe it. In order to achieve the best success, there must be a valid, relevant holiday tie to your story idea. Do you have any product-based clients whose items would be a great fit for a publication’s gift guide? Are you working with an expert source who can predict retail trends this Christmas season? These are the sorts of things that make for successful holiday pitches. If you’re grasping at straws, it won’t take long for a journalist to realize it and send your pitch to the junk folder.

Research editorial calendars – Even if you don’t reference publications’ editorial calendars normally, you’ll want to be sure to do so in advance of holiday pitching. If you are pitching your holiday-related story idea to magazines, especially, it’s important that you know when each publication needs to have its content finalized and what specific ideas they are looking for so you can make your outreach most effective. It’s best to do this as early as possible in the year so that you don’t miss deadlines and don’t have to scramble late in the year.

Make it stand out! – Craft your pitch so that it stands out among the multitudes of other holiday pitches that members of the media receive. This, of course, doesn’t just apply to holiday pitching, but in my opinion it can’t be reiterated enough. Personalize your pitch. Include a clear and attention-getting subject line. Don’t include an overabundance of unimportant information. Clearly communicate why your story idea is truly relevant and better than the rest. For more tips on that, see my recent post on how to most effectively pitch insanely busy journalists.

What do you think, fellow PR pros? What are your thoughts on holiday-related pitching?