The public relations industry has been on quite the rollercoaster this year. Starting with the initial first few weeks of the pandemic, where it was scary to begin any email… to anyone. Then, coming up with creative strategies for your clients so they would earn placements during a tumultuous, unpredictable time. Now, we are gearing up for another period of pivoting: the holiday season. As publicist and founder of The PR Concierge Nicole Myden puts it, not only is it tricky to know how and what to send to journalists, but there is also a fine emotional line to walk, too. “It feels inappropriate this year to be pitching for gift guides with so many out of work, needing to spend their money on food and rent and not gifts,” she shares.
That’s why it’s crucial to be super-mindful when coming up with ideas to send media contacts and to always air on the side of professionalism and sensitivity. Here, publicists from various industries make their holiday pitch predictions to help guide your approach:
Budget-friendly gifts will top the charts
The founder of Ring Communications, Kimberley Ring, predicts the biggest change this year will be regarding finances. Rather than high-end goods or fancy wrapped gifts, Ring says guides will focus on budgets. “Consumer confidence is low due to the recession, upcoming election, and overall uncertainty of what the new year is going to bring,” she continues. “I believe gift-givers will be focused more on how to stretch their holiday budgets to get more for less, while still giving good gifts.”
Interactive demos will help to earn placements
If you want to give your client an extra shot at inclusion, multicultural publicist Samya A. France recommends sending media samples in advance. And not just a package that arrives on their doorstep, but an interactive, interesting, and captivating virtual event with an enticing expert host. “If you're pitching the hottest kitchen gadget for the foodie in your life, partner with a well-known influencer known for their moves in the kitchen to show the media how the product works,” she continues.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be less relevant
Patrick Gevas’s team at the GreenRoom has been keeping a very close eye on the holiday gifting space in the wake of 2020’s events. He predicts typical shopping events—like Black Friday and Cyber Monday—won’t be as relevant as they were in years past. The retail landscape looks quite different, so Gevas thinks we’ll see more retailers follow Home Depot’s lead and not put nearly the same amount of emphasis on its importance. “Instead, I think we’ll see much more elongated ‘Black Friday’-like sales periods and media coverage following suit,” he continues. “With many still at home and a major transition to online buying, that trend is much more likely to continue, so the pitches will have to be tailored.”
Self-care remains an integral part of everyday life
One way to think about your holiday PR strategy, according to Myden, is to think about your own lifestyle. What has mattered the most to you over the last few months? It is time to disconnect, give yourself a little extra TLC, and find ways to process the constant chaotic energy around you. Aren’t those the same vibes you want to send your loved ones? Gift guides will focus on spreading cheer through self-care. “I think we'll see more DIY, nostalgic, self-care, and feel-good items that people can experience in the comfort of their homes to lift their spirits,” Myden explains. “I personally happen to work with a vegan beauty client, so we've actually been seeing great interest from media to include the products in holiday gift guides because the products are something many want to experience at home right now. And it is something they can do themselves, especially as they may prepare for socially distant and small holiday gatherings at home or with loved ones.”
Feel-good charity stories will trend
While remaining humble about it, France suggests highlighting any charitable donations and/or volunteer activities your client is doing. This will pique journalists' and editors' interest, especially if it directly benefits hard-hit industries, like the restaurant/bar space, education, and so on. “If you have a liquor client open to charitable opportunities, find an organization that aligns with your client’s company values. Then, share how your client is donating a percentage of sales during the holiday months to a reputable non-profit organization that supports members of the hospitality industry,” France recommends.
Black-owned businesses will be more of a focus
With the powerful Black Lives Movement that rocked the world this summer, publications are finally paying more attention to diversity. This means there will be an uptick in features and gift guides that feature these voices, brands, and stories. “I'm optimistic and hopeful we'll be seeing gift guides showcasing and celebrating more Black-owned businesses as well,” Myden shares. “I expect to see gift guides this year also sharing organizations people can donate to, both on a local and national level, contributing funds and experiences to those who have been sick this year or lost jobs.”
Practical, helpful gifts will matter more
Many dual-income households are still navigating how to maintain their work responsibilities and take care of and educate their children. It’s stressful—to say the least—and Gevas predicts more guides will focus on supporting the at-home worker or learner. “A lot of people spent on technology that was buoyed by the government stimulus. And with recent announcements from Apple & Samsung, we will be continuing to focus on pitching on accessories for the newest flagship mobile products that will be marketed as must-haves for those working and learning remotely,” he shares.