Everyone has gone shopping crazy, there’s Christmas classics on repeat, festive-themed menus in pretty much every restaurant and cafe nationwide, we’re into full-on party season and there’s celebratory adverts on the TV at every push of the button.

Yes, we’re into December and for many – to quote lyrics from one of the aforementioned popular songs – it’s the ‘most wonderful time of the year’. A time of emotion, nostalgia, family and reflection.

In PR though the festive season begins before most people have even had their two weeks of summer sun. Our strategies for Santa start months before even the first Christmas decorations appear in DIY and garden centres, or the cheesy movies hit the TV screens.

Clients differ, of course, but for us planning for all is key.

Take our town centre-based clients for example. We start sketching out festive artwork, designing Christmas competitions, discussing advertising budgets and talking strategy well before the rush for school shoes at the start of a new academic year. Early magazine deadlines start as soon as September so we really do need to be ahead of the game.

Looking at ways to get the most out of the town centre Christmas light switch-on is a must, but we absolutely love planning innovative PR ideas too – competitions, trails, interactive campaigns which generate a buzz and feel good factor among clients and consumers, and ultimately get more people shopping locally. After all, we all love that warm and fuzzy feeling at Christmas time don’t we?

For venues that rely on footfall and have entry fees, the PR plans start even sooner – at least a year in advance. While we may wait until the autumn to send our press releases and media invites and press passes to journalists and influencers for any VIP events, the festive planning behind the scenes – dates, details, prices and themes – have been happily confirmed for months in advance. By mid-October media are in the loop as to what’s going on when, the assets and artwork is signed off and scheduled social media well and truly in the bag.

For our many logistics clients, although the movement of festive loads takes place between August and October, they want to capitalise on more subtle PR messages in November and December with emotive, heart-warming messages and social media campaigns. We can have a lot of fun with these.

And then there’s our charity and social enterprise clients where the PR approach is very much on awareness-raising – particularly at Christmas time. Woking out how we will capture and share highlights from the festive events and activities laid on for service users is one of the most rewarding aspects of our festive PR planning for this sector. Exploring the use of not just photography but video too is so exciting – and we can end up getting really quite creative with our ideas. All that usually takes place in October time.

So, believe it or not, the Pilkington Communications team are already thinking about Valentine’s and Easter egg campaigns, Mother’s Day competitions and PR plans for Christmas 2020.

In fact, the only festive things we do in December is decorating our office, giving and receiving our Secret Santa gifts and of course, the annual team meal out.

What’s it like in your field of work? Are you already wrapped up for Christmas too? We would love to hear your thoughts – contact us via social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook) @pilkingtoncomms.

Kim Hughes, Head of PR

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