How to Use PR to Increase the Effectiveness of Your Clients' Holiday Campaigns

Oct 30, 2023

The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for PR pros. There’s a ton for you to balance — especially if you work with product-based businesses. After all, as a PR pro, it’s your job to support your clients’ holiday campaigns as best you can!

For the most part, you’ll be doing this through gift guides, working closely with your clients’ marketing teams to execute successful campaigns and deliver stellar holiday results. But when everyone’s launching new products and initiatives all at once, it takes a little extra strategy to help your clients’ campaigns stand out from the crowd.

What Are Holiday Gift Guides?

Gift guides showcase your clients to people actively looking to make a purchase — they’re a fantastic way to boost holiday campaigns, get your clients in front of fresh eyes, and build their audiences. They’re most effective for product-based businesses or those selling experiences, like cooking classes or paint-and-sip events.

Gift guides are basically the holy grail of holiday PR! No matter their niche, you should aim to land gift guide placements for all of your product- or experience-based clients during the holiday season.

Keep in mind that gift guides appear in print, digital media, blogs, and social media! So you’ll be busy devising strategies that drive your clients’ PR goals in all these different media platforms.

Your media contacts will start collecting gift guide pitches as early as June and will accept them even in the days leading up to Christmas. You’ve got your work cut out for you! 

How to Boost Your Clients’ Holiday Campaigns With PR and Gift Guides

This season, give your clients the gift of killer PR by taking their holiday PR strategy to the next level. Here are five ways to boost your clients’ holiday campaigns with the power of PR.

#1: Set Clear Goals for Yourself

In the lead-up to the holiday season, the first thing you should do is sit down with each of your clients and hone in on their holiday campaign goals. Make sure these goals are realistic and are actually tied to PR. Many clients will want to set their goals around sales, but that’s not what PR is about!

Instead, you can set goals around the amount of gift guide placements you’ll land, feature impressions, or affiliate link clicks. You can also use social listening tools like Prowly to keep track of audience sentiment around your client’s products or experiences. There’s a lot of competition this time of year, so keep that in mind when setting expectations with your clients. 

Clear goals give you direction and focus when writing holiday gift guide pitches. Make sure you tailor your message to your clients’ goals and target specific gift guides that will play to their audiences. Go after opportunities that are truly relevant to your client and avoid wasting time chasing placements that won’t move the needle.

Related: How To Successfully Set Year End Goals For Your PR Clients During Q3 and Q4

#2: Start Early!

You probably start seeing holiday products in stores and online in mid-to-late fall, right? Holiday PR begins even earlier than that.

Long-lead gift guides are typically for print media and start sourcing products as early as June and July (P.S. We do a Gift Guide Masterclass for everyone in The Pitch Lab every June!). Short-lead gift guides are for digital media — like digital publications, social media, and blogs — and accept pitches into late December.

Your holiday campaign and gift guide strategy should include both long- and short-lead gift guides, and you should start early regardless. The earlier you begin, the more time you have to refine your strategy and message, nail down assets and samples, and go after as many opportunities as possible.

Plus, people start shopping for holiday gifts earlier and earlier every year. Your clients’ holiday campaigns have to adapt to changing consumer behaviors!

#3: Take Advantage of Every Platform

Beyond pitching for gift guides, use your clients’ social media platforms to give their holiday campaigns an extra boost. Everyone is working toward the same goal, so keep that content coming!

Collaborate with your clients’ marketing teams to develop engaging campaigns that reach across their various channels. Also, remember that what you put out on social media should line up with what their email marketing and influencer marketing teams are working on.

Sharing gift guide placements on social media is a great way to double the exposure you get from the placement! People often spend more time on social media during the holiday season, whether they’re searching for gifts, connecting with friends and family, or posting about their celebrations. You can get your client in front of people who pass over print and digital gift guides in favor of doing their own research!

#4: Connect to Your Audience’s Emotions

The holiday season is all about spending quality time with your loved ones. Your clients’ holiday campaigns should be full of these cozy, loving emotions!

Lean into the festivities with holiday-themed social media posts, giveaways, or charity highlights. Make sure you’re speaking to all identities, too. The holiday season isn’t just for Christmas! And many people want to support female-, POC-, or LGBTQ-owned businesses during the holidays.

It’s also a great idea to go after opportunities in themed gift guides. Lots of gift guides are tailored to a specific recipient….like, really specific. Beyond usual options like gifts for mom or gifts for your husband, your client can pursue gift guide placements targeted toward more niche identities — think gifts for foodies, bookworms, or yoga lovers. 

Themed gift guides also have a more emotional component. Instead of seeing a list of random products that could work for someone in their lives, a themed gift guide is more likely to spark a strong reaction in a reader when they connect each gift to a loved one.

Related: How to Take Time Off From Your PR Agency For the Holidays

#5: Show Off Your Client’s Value

A product that “just looks cool” isn’t going to resonate with audiences and inspire your media contacts to put them in their gift guides! You have to build your holiday campaigns that show off the value of your client’s products or services.

Emphasize how they solve a problem, save time, or enrich a person’s life, just like you would in a standard pitch. But, since you’re pitching the product for a holiday gift guide, you can show off the value of your client’s product for a specific recipient — like a busy mom or outdoorsy dad.

You can also pursue opportunities in value-based gift guides. Think about holiday bundles, expedited shipping, gifts under $50, or digital downloads. Sales and discounts are also big hits for gift guides!

As a PR pro, you’re juggling a lot during the holidays. The more you prepare, the easier it’ll be to knock those holiday campaigns out of the park. No resting Grinch faces this year — give your clients (and yourself) the merriest season yet with the gift of exceptional PR!