Marijane Funess October 16, 2017 | 12:30:35

6 Smart Ideas For Fall PR

Fall is a terrific time for creative public relations teams to dream up seasonal ideas that score with media now and through the rest of the year. Once Labor Day is over, many companies refocus on end-of-year goals and work hard to reach their objectives as the fourth quarter looms. A great PR campaign can play a role as well; even if the last three months of the year are already planned, there’s usually room for innovation. Here’s a guide to coming up with solid PR ideas that can be implemented immediately.

Fall into these smart seasonal PR ideas

Scare up some Halloween PR

It’s not too late to conjure clever concepts for coverage this Halloween. Reporters are always looking for last-minute tips for topics as varied as Halloween tips for frugal parents, to adult Halloween wines and cocktails. One way to juice a seasonal story is with interesting and quirky data to update or round it out. For digital shopping app Retale, we conducted a quick survey to determine what parts of the country spend the least and most on Halloween decor (those in the northeast are the cheapskates.) Another good idea: draft a simple byline or blog post on “Scary Customer Stories” or “Nightmare Product Launches.” These can be fun, tongue-in-cheek thought pieces that position a client as a hero or highlight a B2B customer. We do an annual Halloween PR blog post that’s always well-received.

Lead with the weather

The leaves change, hurricanes come, and winter preparations land on the to-do list. Weather may sound boring, but it’s actually a rich story idea with high local relevance. For example, IoT devices for the home can factor into smart pitches on fall clean-up and prep stories. This season’s early (and devastating) Napa Valley fires offered a chance for expert commentary on grape production from our wine industry client, for example. Evergreen stories, defined as those that media cover year in and year out, provide ample opportunity to offer tip-oriented content on a variety of  weather and seasonal subjects to reporters needing to fill space. The change of seasons can also encompass the annual fall clock change in November. This impacts sleep, of course, so we conducted an annual poll on the effects of “falling back” for a mattress company client. We’ve also examined the safety factors involved for women who run outdoors, since the sun sets earlier as winter looms, and the angle scored national coverage for wearable safety app Wearsafe. 

Leverage pop culture

Autumn traditionally means the start of new TV shows, the release of Oscar-contending films and a slew of Broadway shows. Some of the best pitches tie a client product or service to pop culture coverage. Or if a client doesn’t immediately have a tie to a hit show, get creative. For example, we have used intel from ad tech clients to put pitches together on viewer habits or to comment on social media reaction to film and TV news. Fall is also a great time for clients and pundits to prognosticate on winners and losers in different genres based on data. These can be turned into fun, quick and newsworthy pitches that capitalize on current trends and predict longer-term ones.

Strategize for Thanksgiving shopping stories now

For any product or service that is centrally or even tangentially tied to Black Friday, Cyber-Monday, Giving Tuesday or Small Business Saturday, start strategizing now. Begin by reviewing reporters who cover these annual rites every year. See what is typically written and where there’s room for creative twists that can amplify a client’s story. Or, if there is no direct shopping story, offer up something less-expected like “10 Things to do instead of shopping on Black Friday” and weave in an appropriate brand mention. Or, find a meaningful way for a company to get involved with Giving Tuesday or Small Business Saturday. Craft a plan for each “day” and plot story angles, assets, deadlines and a tight media list for each. The clock is ticking!

Get into online and broadcast gift guides

Savvy PR teams have already reached out to long-lead print magazine gift guides for inclusion of branded products, but they’re small in comparison to online and other short-lead gift guides. So the timing is perfect to start outreach to different categories depending on the product or service. Check out consumer lifestyle, men’s, women’s gift guide opportunities, but go much, much deeper to determine who is editing guides for the tech-savvy, fashion-forward, millennial and on and on. Be prepared to send samples to top-tier pubs and pitch early and often – it seems like there are new lists every day starting in November.

Don’t forget the food

Fall brings predictable stories on tailgating, Oktoberfest, and Thanksgiving, leading right into the December maelstrom of holiday eating and drinking. This means clever PR people everywhere are finding ways to link client products and services to holiday meal planning, recipes, room decor, family etiquette during meals and a myriad of other stories. There are ample opportunities even for non-food and drink clients to get in on the action. Think about providing inexpensive entertaining tips, conducting quick surveys on most and least favorite holiday foods and creating infographics and listicles on holiday meal spending. Or, for the right tech client, a very topical look at what happens with social media “food porn” pics at holiday time. Bonus tip: Now is a perfect time to pay extra attention to media inquiry emails from HARO and Profnet for a cornucopia of fall stories in need of sources.

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