Michelle Han June 14, 2016 | 01:42:08

5 Tips For Winning Father’s Day PR

Can Father’s Day be a viable opportunity for generating positive PR? If done well, our answer is a resounding yes!

There’s no shortage of interest in the holiday: the changing role of dads is becoming evident, and Father’s Day spending is expected to reach a record $14.3 billion in 2016, according to the National Retail Federation. Marketing and public relations professionals would be wise to take heed.

Here are some tips, garnered from past brand campaigns, for winning positive PR for dad’s big day.

Use real-life people in your campaigns. Smart media relations pros know stories are richer — and more likely to earn coverage — when they feature real people who win our hearts and minds. If you have compelling fathers to highlight as part of your brand’s Father’s Day push, make them the centerpiece of publicity efforts whenever possible. Dove’s commercial last year, which featured actual men learning they’d become dads for the first time, is a good example of using genuine moments to create a compelling brand awareness campaign.

Get emotional. Pulling at the heartstrings isn’t just a winning strategy when it comes to Mother’s Day. Emotional stories tend to be shared more frequently, especially when combined with the real-life scenarios mentioned above. We enjoyed Time magazine’s recent Father’s Day campaign, Letters From Dad, which featured written pieces from a diverse range of  famous dads, including Aaron Sorkin, Michael Bloomberg, Hank Azaria, Ethan Hawke, and Tom Brokaw.

Be clever with hashtags. Use hashtags to encourage social sharing, and make sure they reflect an equally clever idea. Last year’s hashtag, #jokesfromdad, launched by home goods retailer hhgregg, had us in stitches watching the video of children retelling irresistible “dad jokes.” Some variations on the dad joke video went viral, indicating how universal the idea was.

Don’t ignore gift guides. Ah, the gift guide — just because it’s predictable doesn’t mean it should be neglected. Expect top publications to spill some ink on recommendations for gifts ranging from trusty bedroom slippers to edgy new technology, like the virtual reality headset featured in this Father’s Day gift guide. If your company produces a product for mass — and male — consumption, it’s worth pitching the right targets. It could be as simple as cleverly packaging your gift idea, and timing it well.

And one caveat: avoid assumptions. Never assume everyone has a dad, present or not, or has fond thoughts about him. Take a lesson from eBay, which earned publicity for its Father’s Day email marketing campaign for all the wrong reasons. The online selling giant sent emails with the subject line, “Your father called,” irking many for its lack of sensitivity (imagine receiving that note while grieving the loss of a father). One can’t predict every scenario that might hit the wrong way, but in today’s age of Twitter lambasting, it pays to vet every idea carefully. Try testing the concept with a diverse enough crowd to see how it lands.

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