PR during the holiday season, timing your PSAs well, more

How do I promote my new product or promotion this holiday season without sounding advertorial?

Holiday promotions
How do I promote my new product or promotion this holiday season without sounding advertorial?

When pitching a product or promotion, the thing to remember is that "new" isn't always news. Companies offering "limited time only" promotions and pitching "new" products need to be wary of this, says Jeff Tidyman, SVP of business intelligence for eNR Services.

"This may seem like news to the brand, but it isn't necessarily interesting to the media," he notes. To contribute to the likely success of your press release's pick-up, PR pros need to do a good job of positioning their products and promotions in a way that's newsworthy and factual.

The holidays are always a big time for promotions and new product launches. "Your best opportunities come when your product or trend fits into the story that journalists are [writing]," adds Tidyman.

When deciding how to present your product or promotion to the media, you need to take a step back, and think, act, and write like a journalist, he says.

Another good tip is to find red-carpet events or celebrity functions where your products can be included in swag bags or provide samples. "Or be creative and find an awareness day that sets you apart from the normal holiday-themed pitches," advises Tidyman.

What's a good strategy for sending out my PSA? Are there months where it's more advantageous?

Annette Minkalis from West Glen Communications answers, "Yes. In fact, we are approaching a prime time right now: January."

PSAs make it on the air because there was unsold ad space. "So logically, you want to avoid months when ad sales are brisk and take advantage when sales are sluggish," she notes.

A typical "brisk" period is the last three to four months of the year. Between back-to-school, the elections, and holiday ads, space for PSAs is limited. However, January brings a big slowdown in spot sales, opening up a wonderful opportunity for PSAs, explains Minkalis.

To time it right, get your PSA out the door by mid-December and don't forget to follow-up in early January. Nonprofits that avidly use PSAs know about the January lull, so you will face a lot of competition. "Make sure you don't get lost in the shuffle," she advises.

Video options
Is there any value to producing a live video webcast, or is video-on-demand sufficient?

There are advantages to both types of online events, as well as compelling reasons to employ them together.

"With their capacity to drive audience conversations, live and archived webcasts are quintessential Web 2.0 communications tools," explains Mary Buhay, SVP of corporate communications for Medialink.

Scheduling a live webcast delivers direct, real-time engagement with your audience. Using an online polling feature adds even more dimension by taking a snapshot and sharing the viewers' collective point of view.

"When an event is promoted well and offers interactivity, appointment-viewing makes sense for the audience," notes Buhay. On-demand webcasts can be edited into short clips and indexed with meta-tags for easier searching and viewing.

By using both live and archived webcast video, PR pros can swiftly identify hot-button issues for viewers, and track levels of interest in a message over time.

Send your questions to: . Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox or to suggest ideas for future columns.

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