PR pros don't change their strategies with the seasons; they just improve their menus with fresh ingredients that spice up conversations, trigger public interest, and add value to a storyline.
All business owners should take advantage of holidays to reach out to established and potential consumers, and to appeal to stakeholders and the media.
This fall, harvest some season-fresh ideas to keep you ahead of the competition. Aside from the usual giveaways, discounts, and packages, here some things to consider:
Pinterest is a gold mine
The best way to find inspiration is to look for themed boards on Pinterest: They show fancy interior decorations, quirky cooking ideas, costumes, art, activities for young and old, and even contests. Use these ideas—without plagiarizing them—to develop your own PR strategies and even design campaigns for giveaways and autumn deals. My favorite boards include this
Many businesses will focus on the most popular events and festivals: Labor Day Weekend, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and, of course, Black Friday (this year, Nov. 29). Go beyond the norm. Consider the events that matter for your local community as well, and create a PR strategy to meet their expectations.
Local PR strategies make powerful brand ambassadors
A PR strategy developed for this purpose should not aim at immediate financial gain. Instead, it should focus on a deeper, more meaningful ROI, the kind that turns ordinary people into enthusiastic brand ambassadors.
For example, join the apple-palooza in Arendtsville, and share the festival's story with the world to create good will with your local community, while sending a clear message that you care about simple things that make people happy. Of course, this applies only if you are in Arendtsville. If not, pick the most important fall event in your community, and work around that.
Out with the old, in with the new
When you are crafting campaigns around popular holidays such as Halloween, don't use old, boring strategies. Metaphorically speaking, replace the pumpkin lanterns with the traditional lotus lanterns used during the Ghost Festival in China. Why? Because your strategy should stand out as different, while inspiring and creating interest.
When you make the effort to bring something new, creative, and far from clichés to your storyline, your PR campaign has more chances to appeal to the public. The "cool" factor triggers emotions and is a better call to action than the tired, old "sales and specials" marketing lingo.
Remember those holidays that are not heavily publicized: Columbus Day, Grandpa's Day, Veterans’ Day, etc. You never know how many potential customers you miss when you ignore what others consider "un-cool" or uninteresting.
It may seem too difficult to focus resources and create campaigns on so many events, but if you plan your campaigns in time, things should run smoothly.
Mobile is the future
Last, but not least, whatever you do, don't ignore mobile trends: More and more users enjoy accessing Web content on the go. Make sure that your website renders well on smartphones and tablets, and design your campaigns to be easily shared by these users.
The mobile potential is tremendous: an app for the fall could be just what you need to step way ahead of the competition. If you are not selling goods, but services, a fun app for the season could spread good will for your brand.
[RELATED: Master can't-ignore social media tools with Mark Ragan's one-day social media boot camp.]
If you cannot afford an app (although there are many tools that let you build it entirely free), join start a themed campaign on Instagram to advertise your business. It doesn't have to be blatant self-promotion. Instead, look at Mercedes-Benz CLA's Take the Wheel
campaign to see just how Instagram can boost awareness for your brand. Similar strategies could be employed for many other social networks.
Of course, there are many other industry-specific tips to share, but the above are general aspects that apply to most businesses. Do you have other strategies to recommend?
Mihaela Lica-Butler is a career journalist, senior partner at Pamil Visions PR and editor at Everything PR. She is a widely cited authority on public relations issues with an experience of over 11 years in online PR.