• 27 Nov 2020
  • 8 Min read

Christmas outreach: 12 tips for earning exposure this festive season

The festive season presents a unique set of challenges to outreachers and digital PRs. While it offers ample opportunity for brands to gain valuable exposure, it can be the hardest time to connect with journalists, who are often inundated with stories. Alongside this, many people chose this time to take annual leave, which can be hard to work around.

Here are my top 12 tips for marketing professionals looking to secure links and media coverage this festive season.

1.     Make the most of media requests

During the holiday season, there are more opportunities to get your products featured online — not least in Christmas gift guides. As well as helping ecommerce brands to generate sales, these links can be more valuable for SEO, because they point to product or category pages.

Remember to regularly check media requests you are subscribed to throughout the day, and act quickly: Christmas is a competitive time of year and you’ll need to respond fast in order to secure your slot in a feature. I recommend using ResponseSource and checking out #journorequest on Twitter.

It can be helpful to save a list of some of your top festive products with the vital information a journalist needs: URL, price, high-quality imagery, and a short description. This way, you can quickly jump on any relevant requests that come through.

2.     Keep it topical

This may seem obvious, but it is essential your pitches are relevant to the festive season. It is rare to see UK outlets covering stories that are not Christmas-related during December.

You may have an amazing idea and, despite the fact it is not seasonal, consider sending it out, but it is almost always better to save it for later. It is highly likely that anything off the topic of Christmas or winter will get lost in an editor’s inbox or forgotten about by the time the new year rolls round.

Make sure you put a pin in any ideas that do not fit into the festivities, and send these out later when they will get the attention they deserve.

3.     Get creative

The classic Christmas editorial topics and angles are very saturated and already covered in a lot of depth. Trying to gain an editor’s interest on a topic like ‘How to decorate your living room for Christmas’ is no mean feat.

Instead, it’s worth trying to be more creative and coming up with niche or unusual ideas. Editors will be more receptive to an original angle and your story will stand out among the same old subject lines. That could mean swapping the above angle for something like ‘How to make sure your Christmas decorations are child-friendly’ or ‘Christmas decorations that won’t leave a big carbon footprint’.

4.     Be inclusive

Christmas or not, it is important that your content is inclusive. For example, if you’re sharing festive recipes, make sure to explain how they can be adapted for those with dietary requirements. If you’re creating a video, add captions for those with hearing difficulties.

It’s also important to bear in mind that Christmas can be a difficult time for many, and not everyone celebrates December 25th as a religious holiday — or at all. Being sensitive to the different ways people spend the season will help ensure your content goes down well with editors and readers alike.

5.     Try newsjacking

BBC news on computer screen

Newsjacking is a tactic that involves pitching comment, statistics, or other brand assets in relation to breaking stories. While Christmas is dominated by tradition, there will be chances to take advantage of trends and news over the festive season — especially in these unprecedented times.

You’ll need to keep one eye on the news cycle and respond fast to succeed: there’s a sweet spot before the height of conversation where journalists are seeking assets to add flavour to their coverage. If you can provide it, you can secure valuable links and exposure.

Make sure to have a process in place for when opportunities arise. For example, who is best to comment on different topics, and how do you quickly get hold of them?

6.     Pitch at the right time

While it’s a good idea to prepare festive campaigns well ahead of time where possible, don’t feel pressured to launch too early. Timing is everything when it comes to securing coverage. For example, a pitch relating to New Year’s Eve is likely to get lost in late November but could really pique an editor’s interest a month later.

This can be hard when outreaching manually, but scheduling software like BuzzStream has plenty of helpful options to make use of, such as setting your emails to go out at a particular time. This means you don’t have to log on early, or even be working that day, to land in a journalist’s inbox at the perfect time.

You can also schedule follow-ups to go out if your contact does not reply, which means more time for you to work on other things. Alongside this, BuzzStream allows you to track opens and clicks, letting you know which subject lines have caught attention and which may need tweaking.

7.     Plan around annual leave

Yearly planner 2020

It’s likely you and your colleagues have annual leave booked in around this time of year, on top of the bank holidays. It’s vital to plan around these: create a calendar so you know when everyone’s off, assign projects and deadlines accordingly, use email scheduling software where appropriate, and make sure handovers are completed.

Likewise, your prospects could have annual leave booked in, so it’s more important than ever to be accommodating of deadlines and stick to them strictly. This will help ensure you secure the coverage you want and build good working relationships.

8.     Prepare for next year

It’s easy to become side-tracked by Christmas, but it’s important to set yourself up for success in the New Year and beyond. You don’t want to open your inbox on December 28th or January 4th only to realise that there’s nothing in the pipeline.

Consider whether there are any New Year angles relevant to your brand and schedule your emails accordingly. You might also want to line up the likes of Veganuary and Dry January pitches so that you can give yourself a head start for 2021.

9.     Use downtime efficiently

If your inbox does get a bit quiet this December and it’s not feasible to start something new, don’t panic or waste time simply waiting for links to roll in. Use your downtime efficiently by chasing any contacts that have gone cold, doing a retrospective analysis of recent campaigns, or seeing what your competitors are up to.

10. Stay organised

With so much going on at Christmas, it can be easy for things to get on top of you. Make life easier for yourself by keeping a record of every opportunity you’re working on and what stage they’re at.

Remember that many journalists will use your stories, data, or comment without letting you know, so be sure to keep a track of your brand mentions on the web so you can record all your hard work (Google Alerts is good for this). If they haven’t linked to your site, don’t be shy of getting in touch and explaining why it would benefit them and their readers to do so.

11. Spread the joy

Christmas is meant to be a joyful time of year, despite how busy and hectic it can get. And in 2020, many people need festive cheer more than ever.

At Glass Digital, we have found that positive topics are far better received than negative angles. Look for the silver linings and ways to help people better their lives, and editors will be more receptive to your ideas.

If you do want to address a problem, such as Christmas debt, make sure it’s followed up with actionable, practical advice that will help the reader or encourage them to help others.

Alongside this, a little festive well-wishing on your emails and communications takes no time at all and can help spread a little joy to your contacts this Christmas. As people are busy, try not to overdo it: a simple ‘Happy holidays!’ sign-off can do the trick.

12. Be kind to others and yourself

This year has been difficult for everyone. Christmas will be no different and is likely to be even more stressful than usual. Be sure to stay polite and kind at all costs.

Many people are under immense pressure, dealing with issues in their personal lives, or struggling with the strange circumstances we are currently living in. No matter how difficult a situation is, remember to approach people with kindness. It costs nothing but can be highly valuable to others.

Most importantly, do not put too much pressure on yourself. Take a break when you need it, look after your health, and remember to celebrate your successes this season.

I hope these tips help you to secure valuable links and exposure for your brand this festive season — and spread a little Christmas cheer along the way. And remember, if you’re struggling to make time for link-building or aren’t getting the results you need, our outreach and digital PR service could be right for you. Get in touch for a free and friendly free consultation.

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