Sword and the Script

‘Tis the season: 7 creative PR ideas for the holidays


ChristmasPR campaigns

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by Frank Strong

Santa’s coming to town — what clever PR campaigns are out there spreading the word mixed with the scent of pine? As always, a good way to brainstorm for ideas is to scour the Web and see what campaigns creative PR types have come up with. Here’s a look at seven:

1. Spreading warmth. I never thought the lifespan of a coat could be so moving, but Lands’ End has made it so. This is one of the best viral campaigns I’ve seen in a long time: BigWarmUp. It moves along quickly, it’s emotionally captivating, and it’s for a good cause. Viewers are invited to enter their name in the beginning and as you might have guessed — you’ll find your name somewhere in the end. I won’t completely spell it out here for fear of ruining the effect for those that haven’t seen this yet — but it’s worth a few minutes of your time. What can be spelled out is that this campaign has got people buzzing. A quick search on Google Blogs returns in excess of 100,000 posts. Here’s a link to a post from the PR team behind the campaign — and the press release.

2. Trackthetree.com. What do CNN and the RFID Journal have in common? Both outlets cheered the Capitol Christmas Tree as it crossed the finish line, completing a 3-week marathon covering more than 4,000 miles. SkyBitz, a company that uses GPS technology to track cargo, monitored the tree’s movement from Arizona to Washington, DC. Previously, I offered some, err, constructive criticism and now it seems I’m remiss. What I especially admire about this campaign is that it’s both unique and clearly demonstrates the value of the company’s technology. In addition to the coverage, Backtweets shows 75 Tweets at present and one free backlink checking tool shows more than 1,700 backlinks. That’s quite astonishing.

3. “Merry Halloween.” A bucket full of candy in a Jack O’lantern might seem like an off topic pitch for a reporter in the weeks leading up to Christmas — but Melissa Dowling at the BigFatMarketingBlog took a bite. She opened up the an accompanying gift card that read, “OOPS! Melissa, getting purchases to your customers too late can be costly and scary. Get it right every time with Zero Disappointment Retail…” Great pitch for a marketing publication: right on target.

4. Send me an angel. This is an oldie, but a goodie. Last year a PR shop in New Zealand cued up “Botany Angels” to perform “random acts of kindness” to shoppers hustling about their gift shopping at the local town center. We all know how crowded shopping malls can get — the holidays are sometimes stressful — and what could be more, well, angelic, than a pair of angels spreading a little cheer. Local angle, creative and inexpensive; read Alexander Communication’s short case study here.

5. Social Santa. PRWeek got the low down (subscription required) on this campaign by Staples: “Twitter Moms” which offers “$100 gift cards to various consumers who spark conversation via stories or tips on making holiday shopping easy.” Still a bit early to tell how successful the program will be, but a shout out to the Staples’ PR team for giving a social media a creative shot. I have not seen many holiday season campaigns with a social media twist, though there’s growing evidence that social media is influencing shoppers. If 2009 was about experimentation with social media, 2010 will be about programs and scale. Keep an eye on this campaign to see what lessons we might learn.

6. Christmas Tweetups. Networking eventsfundraisers and charities are all working the Tweetup channel to get people together for their causes. Seems to me that savvy retailers might consider “last minute gift” shopping Tweetups as an effective tactic as the 25th draws near. Who knows? Maybe Old Saint Nick might make an appearance.

7. Put a jingle in your pitch? The jury is still out on this one too: a PR team pitching a Christmas carol parody for a software security company certainly did get the attention of one reporter, but as he concludes his post, “The only gift I can give in return is a groan followed by a Bah Humbug!” Be sure to check out the comments, which might sway your opinion, but if after taking it all in, you’re feeling understandably gun-shy about poetic pitch, perhaps it will make for a better blog post: Danny Brown is singing a social media Christmas carol.

What creative PR ideas have you seen for the holiday season?

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Seven (Mostly) Feel-Good Christmas Stories

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