It’s July 4th, should you shoot off a pitch or stick with fireworks?
As July 4th approaches many public relations specialists avoid scheduling major efforts in the days, or weeks, surrounding the holiday. The rationale behind this is obvious; many people are taking vacation days, and those who are working may be overworked or perhaps they’re taking things slow! On the other side of the coin, however, is the fact that holidays often provide great hooks for marketers so July 4th and any other holiday cannot and should not be ignored.
In terms of media relations specifically, with many journalists on vacation, news crews are slim. If handled properly, this could be to your advantage since the journalists left holding down the fort are typically more over-worked than usual, in many cases relying more heavily on PR people to do some reporting for them.
In addition, there’s less competition for your pitch since larger numbers of PR representatives are also taking time off. So a pitch that may not get read during a normal news period may have a better chance of standing out in journalists’ inboxes.
Throughout our careers in the PR field we’ve seen cases where media outreach has been very successful during times of limited staffing. For example, for a large global accounting firm, on December 26th, when most people are not working, we pitched an opportunistic feature story to a top reporter at the Wall Street Journal. Once we got the reporter on the phone, which alone was a major accomplishment, we commiserated about having to be in the office that week, and she gave us more time than usual to share the story idea. As a result we generated a major feature article in the Journal about our client’s program.
Here are a few other observations and tips about pitching media during holiday timeframes:
- Be opportunistic – do NOT just pitch a feature story without a strong tie to the day’s news. Working journalists need to cover the news with their limited time and they’re not looking for evergreen angles when all they can think about is how overloaded they are and how to get out early enough to enjoy the holiday themselves.
- Do the reporter’s work – if you can pitch a comprehensive story package tied to your newsworthy angle you increase the likelihood of success, and can gain a new media friend for life! Do the journalists’ jobs for them to the greatest extent possible – line up third-party testimonials and interviewees, gather and present related statistics and industry information, provide and recommend visuals if required, and so on.
- Pitch short-lead holiday angles – be creative and pitch stories tied to the holiday since the holiday is obviously newsworthy. But don’t do this to a fault and be overly hokey. Be sure to maintain the integrity of your brand and don’t sell your story short to try to squeeze in some holiday coverage. Also, keep your timing in mind since a holiday quickly becomes old news. Most holiday stories are pitched and planned in advance, but actual day-of stories are still a possibility. The day after, not so much!
What’s been your experience?