John Lewis knows that PR is not just for Christmas

We all know the Christmas season is well and truly underway when the John Lewis ad breaks.

But the secret to its success does not lie in its planning for Christmas alone, but in its focus on its brand values, proposition and reliability throughout the year.

It was this type of focus on sustainable PR that I spoke about recently at the Direct Commerce Marketplace’s Christmas Crammer event – which was billed as a day to help delegates boost their seasonal and future sales – and for which I set about writing 12 tips which can help with long-term PR success.

  1. First up was why businesses must aim to be front-of-mind. This matters because you become your customer’s first choice. And this is what John Lewis sets out to do: it is not pushing particular products in its ad, but reiterating a proposition built around the notion of ‘thoughtful giving’.
  2. For that, you need a plan: get strategic, understand your target media and their deadlines, and ensure you remain organised –not just at Christmas, but throughout the year.
  3. My tip for the third day of Christmas was to build relationships. We all know these are key for a successful business. They are just as important for a successful PR strategy. Set up meetings, get on the phone, create a database, and ensure you know the influencers in your space.
  4. Christmas is not Christmas without remembering to create goodwill. So, say thank you, re-connect, and consider giving things away. Even if these offerings have no monetary value you can re-ignite interest in your business by offering free advice, tips or services at little or no cost to you.
  5. Remember, too, to use the ‘quiet’ time between Christmas and New Year to pitch stories. This is still a busy shopping period, and there is an opportunity to create cut-through with a well thought-out PR strategy.
  6. Don’t forget the importance of online and social channels. Ensure you can be found, create newsworthy content, and keep an eye all the time on the activity of your competition.
  7. Christmas is also a great time to create the right impression with the creative use of photography, video, ‘look-books’ and online listings. Don’t miss this opportunity.
  8. Focus on storytelling, and don’t use marketing channels in isolation in order to do so. Above all, ensure your story is credible and resonates with what you want your brand to be known for – both at Christmas and in the long-term.
  9. Remember the day of rest, too. Time out can be time to get inspired – to read, listen, learn and collaborate. Look outside of your company and forge partnerships.
  10. Above all, don’t panic. Christmas is busy. But you need to focus on quality, not quantity. Ensure you cover the basics whilst avoiding well-worn PR stunts or predictable Christmas press releases.
  11. The Christmas season is also a time to look back – to review and to set goals. Enjoy it.
  12. Finally, on the 12th day of Christmas – and all year round – be available, be helpful. Remember, PR is for life and not just for Christmas.

Very few of us need John Lewis’ multi-million pound budget for our Christmas campaigns. Success hinges on an all-year-round focus on customer service and sustainable PR. With a little bit of work and a focus on this throughout the year, we can all aim to emulate this well-oiled marketing machine.

Ellen Carroll

Ellen Carroll is a strategic PR and communication consultant. I provide PR training, mentoring and consultancy to help people and businesses to step out of the shadows with #PRthatPAYS

Find me on: Web | Twitter

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