The best ways to utilise Christmas as part of a consumer PR campaign

With the help of John Lewis, Coca Cola and Marks and Spencer, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Seven ways to harness the magic of Christmas, by Phil Hall
Seven ways to harness the magic of Christmas, by Phil Hall
1. Capture the magic of Christmas 
There is a very good reason as to why the Coca Cola advert has had such longevity – this is simply because it captures the very essence of Christmas, and transports us straight back to our childhood. 
This is very difficult to do. 
But successfully recapturing that magic - within a PR campaign - is a sure-fire way to succeed. 

2. Integrate the campaign
In today’s digital age, fully integrated campaigns are of course a must.
Audiences now engage on a number of different platforms at any one time, which requires brands to communicate a consistent message, not only through their Christmas advert, but also their PR strategy, social media and direct marketing campaigns.  
Take this year’s John Lewis ‘Monty the Penguin’ campaign for example: John Lewis created a buzz around the premier of their Christmas advert by sending influential bloggers and vloggers Monty the Penguin Toys with the hashtag which was very successful in creating suspense and speculation before the advert aired on TV. 

3. Partner up & give back
Christmas is the time of year when we encourage others to think about those who are less fortunate then themselves. 
So why not use this as an opportunity to team up with a charity and give something back, just like Sainsbury’s have done this year with The Royal British Legion. 
It’s a controversial advert, but it’s certainly got people talking and has delivered a lot more eyeballs for Sainsbury’s as a result of all of the media coverage. 

4. Novelty
Santa, Rudolph, tinsel and novelty jumpers – yes they’re tacky – but it wouldn’t be Christmas without them. 
Use these nostalgic elements of Christmas creatively and imaginatively as part of your PR campaign, and you can transform the most ordinary of brands into a festive PR jackpot. 
Virgin had the right idea when they transformed one of their trains into a reindeer, or a ‘Virgin Traindeer’ as they called it, and let’s not forget Coke Zero’s Christmas Sweater Generator; a campaign where they gave their customers the opportunity to design and create their very own Christmas jumper. 

5. Bah Humbug!
For some, Christmas is overrated. 
So why not turn Christmas on its head and target a campaign at the scrooges of the world. 
Just look at the success the Rage Against the Machine Facebook campaign had when they rallied against Simon Cowell’s chart domination by beating X-Factor winner, Joe McElderry, to the Christmas number 1 spot! 

6. It is the season of giving 
As they say, it is far better to give, than it is to receive. 
So spread some Christmas joy this season by treating your customers to some freebies. 
I have seen this in abundance this year with great success, most notably the Canada Air campaign where they gave a pub full of Canadians free flights home to see their families at Christmas. 
All filmed and created into a viral video, of course. 

7. Pull on those heart strings
We are an emotional bunch, so if you can create a campaign that brings a tear to the eye then you are on to a winner. 
Social media was awash with people reaching for the hankies after the world was introduced to good old Monty this year. 

Phil Hall is the founder and chairman of PHA Media

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