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HOW TO UNLEASH A GLITTER CANNON OF FESTIVE NEWS COVERAGE

November 17, 2015

By Harriet Scott

It can be a bugger of a job landing national news coverage at Christmas. We’ve worked at senior level on UK national newspapers for longer than we would care to admit – so we (the GingerComms massive) are spreading some yule tide joy by sharing some of our top tips to achieving a blanket of festive coverage..

1. A release may have a Christmas theme – but that doesn’t make it a news story. By NOT attempting to link your brand or product with Christmas – you will actually have better luck placing it.

2. Don’t oversell to journalists at this time of year. Your story which reveals how many Christmas dinners the average Brit will eat this year may make a fun top somewhere – but desks are currently trying to put together spreads on terror attacks, so keep it in perspective. Mention your story to good contacts and write it well.

3. When commissioning research, a load of disparate “Christmas related” questions does not a news story make! We’ve seen hundreds of surveys from PRs in which there is no real potential news story. Always work from the story backwards. Think about your release first, then create 15 to 20 questions with the resulting story (from beginning, middle to end) in mind.

4. Think about the kind of stories newspapers and online news sites actually run on a day to day basis. Your release is just one of THOUSANDS of Christmas themed press releases which are flooding the wires and news-desks at this time of year. 90 percent of those releases will end up in the bin – so yours needs to stand out.

5. Be honest with your clients. Telling your client that their idea will never get cut through is not the easiest conversation to have – but it is a lot easier than explaining why you have landed zero coverage. As PRs we really must have the balls to educate our clients in terms of what they can reasonably expect in terms of coverage. Manage their expectations more than ever at this time of year. They will thank you for it in the long run.

6. Don’t over brand your story ever – especially at this time of year. Clients need to appreciate that this is not advertorial. So if you are trying to create some decent news shows for your client, they need to compromise on the level of branding.

7. Product based stories rarely work – especially at Christmas. Unless it is a massive brand and literally the best, most expensive, most unique product of all time. Encourage brand people to move away from the product and think about owning space. In terms of newspapers and online news site exposure – PR is largely a branding exercise. Attribute your brand name to something bigger relating to Christmas – be it shopping, family, traditions – think what people actually want to read about.

8. Keep your festive content as wide as possible – make a statement which reinforces or challenges a stereotype, establish a big top-line figure, create a top 20 or 50 list – keep everything as social and shareable as possible.

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We all know, in PR, just how rapidly the media landscape has changed over the past few years. Factors such as time poor journalists, the rise of social media fuelling news stories, and an upsurge in citizen journalism, all mean it is harder than ever to place PR stories in the traditional media. Yet consumer research is still seen by many in the industry as a failsafe way to get cut through in national news media – no matter how busy it is.

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