Break through the holiday news cycle

Your pitch doesn’t necessarily have to be wrapped up and tied with a big red bow to break through the holiday news cycle.

November 25, 2020

After what has felt like the longest year in history, I’m embracing the cheer and joy of the holiday season with open arms and an epic sigh of relief. 2020 has been a hard year, for everyone – deadly pandemic, social turmoil, contentious presidential election, not to mention natural devastations like hurricanes, flooding and wildfires. It. Has. Been. A. Lot.

The holidays tend to bring heart-warming and cheerful news stories about traditions, giving back, being thankful and, of course, having hope for a prosperous year ahead. Many companies take a conventional approach and shy away from proactively pitching the news media during this time, unless it has a direct holiday connection like Giving Tuesday, holiday shopping or new year’s resolutions. It’s true that reporters are looking for these topical, relevant and timely happenings, but your pitch doesn’t necessarily have to be wrapped up and tied with a big red bow to break through the holiday news cycle.

While most journalists do take much needed vacations and time off during the holidays, news still needs to be reported and there’s more opportunity to land a headline than you think. Here are some tips for seizing the moment and getting some good PR for your company:

Not everything has to be holiday-related

Products are unveiled, programs are launched and businesses have breaking news 365 days a year. Don’t shy away from pitching your news because you think it has to have a holiday spin to get attention. And because many companies take a break from proactive pitching, there’s less competition.

Parallel to the above, not everything has to center around COVID-19

Yes, we are in a global pandemic and it’s devastating. But the holidays are not canceled and there’s plenty of great stories out there to share. If you have an uplifting customer story or an employee achievement worth sharing, then share it. (Disclaimer: If you are holding an in-person event or program, just be smart and follow CDC Guidelines, since this is our new normal.)

Feature organization leadership and expertise by reflecting and forecasting

Some news outlets are looking for thought leadership pieces during November-December to break up the monotony of holiday coverage or they may appreciate having something lined up and ready to go in the new year. Now is a great time to draft an op-ed piece or even set up some virtual one-on-ones with your spokesperson and key beat reporters. Position the virtual meetings as informational interviews with the reporter to talk about industry happenings in 2020 and forecasting for 2021. Here’s a great example of how this could play out, from a recent virtual interview coordinated with client Deloitte and the Charlotte Business Journal.

Don’t forget about weekends

Many businesses function on a Monday-Friday work week so it’s natural to only pitch during that timeframe. Weekend news producers for broadcast stations usually have news holes to fill so you can get interest pitching directly to the weekend team. TV stations may even run the story across multiple news casts and publish online as well, amplifying that one story into multiple placements.

Take time and do your research

This is a bonus year-round tip because the top complaint I’ve heard from journalist friends and colleagues over the years has been receiving a pitch about a topic he/she has never covered before. Always do your homework on each reporter and read/watch recent stories before you pitch so you fully understand reporter beats and personalities.

To sum it all up, don’t go on a PR holiday vacation too early this year. Instead, use any downtime to get creative and think about the outstanding people and stories your organization may have not told in 2020. And, remember, if news contacts don’t bite, you can always share the good news on your social channels.

If you’re interested in talking about PR opportunities for your business, let’s connect this holiday season or new year. Shoot us a note.

Chernoff Newman has deep category experience in agriculture, food and beverage, education and workforce development, energy, economic development, financial/insurance, healthcare and infrastructure. We design integrated marketing and strategic communications that are impactful, thought-provoking and influential. We marry ingenuity with business know-how to influence beliefs and behaviors for brands, companies and their many stakeholders. We influence attitude and inclination. We influence opinion and outcomes. And when needed, we also influence to quell contention.