What constitutes a PR win when Thanksgiving rolls around and the holiday season kicks in? Do over-the-top PR stunts work, or do you need to pull at heartstrings for well earned media that burnishes your reputation? The holidays are both an easy time of year to place stories and a challenging season for professional communicators. Yet it’s always impressive and inspiring to see stories worthy of the PR halo generated by smart moves. Here, with gratitude, are our picks for stories that win this Thanksgiving.
Yes, there’s an app for Thanksgiving, too. We wouldn’t be known for our technology PR skills if we didn’t appreciate a good roundup of tech tools to help out on Turkey Day and the clever companies that created them. We love lists, and AnyList is the tech lover’s answer to the ultimate Thanksgiving shopping list. It includes a feature for multiple participants, too, for potluck-style dinners. We also love Spotify’s Turkey Timer, which plays songs selected for the length of your turkey’s cooking time. And if your family is like some of ours, navigating seating charts can be tricky. Table Plan lets participants collaborate, possibly heading off a sticky situation. Avoiding family drama for Thanksgiving Dinner? We’d call that a win, PR or otherwise.
REI’s PR coup: Closing stores on Black Friday. High on our list is none other than REI, which we covered here. In an era when Black Friday sales are starting on “Thanksgetting” Day, REI’s approach is bold, refreshing, and quite frankly, a relief. Some 33 percent of shoppers “hate” that stores are open on Thankgiving Day, according to a recent survey by our client Retale. And with consumers flocking to mobile e-commerce, it’s more important than ever to push back against the constant commercialization of what is cherished by many as the “most wonderful time of the year.” REI’s stance is a welcome step in that direction, and a PR coup to boot.
Walmart’s Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie. Need a good laugh? Recently, a singer named James Wright posted this YouTube review of the Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie sold exclusively at Walmart (fair warning: there’s explicit language in the video). When it launched in September, sales were so-so. But after Wright’s legitimately hysterical performance went viral, Walmart has sold an estimated $1 million worth of pies. In one week, the YouTube video has nearly 2.4 million views, with the story picked up by top-tier media outlets nationwide. PR people and brands alike can only dream of such exposure. Spontaneously viral video or a secretly concocted PR campaign? Perhaps time will tell. Our predictions say look for one of the following: a record deal for Wright, continued soaring sales for Patti’s pie, or an exposé on how a professional was behind it all. In any case, we’re thankful for a good laugh (and maybe a piece of sweet potato pie).