If you’re running a fresh tech startup, the holiday season may seem like a battleground you aren’t ready to face. Even if you’ve had a good year, getting attention around Christmas is another story. Surely you’re going to be drowned out by pieces about toys, food, and other (considerably bigger) tech companies?
Well, not necessarily. There are plenty of creative tactics your tech startup can use to garner attention and make an impression in the headlines during that all-important holiday season. Combine them with a solid system for collecting journalist contacts, and you’ll be in a good position.
Get started early
This is an obvious one for anyone who’s worked in communications or marketing before, but your Christmas planning should really get going when everyone else is on the beach sipping on something cool. To make sure you don’t fall behind during the holiday season, get everything scheduled and decide your PR strategy by June or July.
Your plan should encompass everything from the content you’ll create (for your blog, and for social media) to the events you plan to hold (more on that later). Not only will this make the run-up to the holidays a lot easier, but it’ll also give you time to adjust plans and tweak content as you get closer to the deadline. The press will appreciate it too, as they can fill in those content gaps early.
Use holiday themes in your content
Everyone says the holiday season starts earlier every year. While that’s technically not true, people definitely get excited about it much sooner than they used to. As the nights get longer and the air gets chillier, people are on the hunt on social media for things to make them feel festive. No doubt you’ll do something festive with your work-space, so why not put that to use as content?
If you’re decorating in a way that’s unique to your startup, use it across your social platforms and it might just get picked up. Let people know what you did for your office Christmas party. Everything you do around this season is potential seasonal content and ideal fodder for some lighthearted coverage.
Influencers are your friends
Influencers are everywhere these days, playing a huge role in modern PR, and you can certainly use them to help gain coverage for your company. Consider that this is the peak time of year for most influencers when it comes to sales and promotions, with their fans readily welcoming seasonal content and countdowns. Given that their impact on brand sales is well documented, isn’t it the perfect opportunity for mutual benefit?
Because of the seasonable demand, influencers spend the holidays looking for content (and content ideas) so they can pump out videos and posts quickly enough to keep their followers engaged. Why not pass them some relevant content, or even send them one of your products to keep or give away as a Christmas gift? If you can help them keep their content mill going, they’ll probably be quite grateful and give you some enthusiastic coverage.
Experiment with alternative media
The holiday season may seem like the time to keep things simple and let the inevitable rise in interest do its work, but it’s actually the ideal time to experiment with new media. You could blow your budget on a basic social campaign that’ll get lost in the shuffle, or you could spend it on some audio equipment and record a podcast.
We touched upon using your office to catch attention, so why not get a bit more of that personality out there in audio form? People everywhere are looking for things to listen to while they commute through the cold or wrap gifts. So why not entertain them with exactly what your startup does best? You may even get featured on a list of great new podcasts, helping you get influencers involved. New media can be incredibly potent.
Hold a seasonal event
A special festive event is sure to catch the eye of a reporter or staff writer. Arranging something that’s as seasonal as it is promotional is a great way to get people talking. While also offering that stressed-out content writer an opportunity to head out for the day and write a nice little summary piece.
Take out some space in your town or city center to spread some festive cheer and get yourself known locally. If you operate in the retail sector (either primarily through selling tech products or secondarily through selling branded merch) then you can also take the opportunity to sell some products: with a mobile POS system, you can easily log sales in your standard CMS using nothing more than a smartphone and a card reader.
Support a good cause
When thinking of alternative ways of getting coverage, why not factor in the true purpose of this time of year? Yes, I’m talking about giving, and helping people in need. Supporting a good cause is a great way to give back to people. It’s great for PR (it’s a win-win).
Just as holding a local event can improve the credibility of your business. Supporting a local cause can improve your reputation, making people want to support you and talk about you. If you go about this in the right way, you can even build some lasting business relationships that help you secure further coverage throughout the year.
Look to the future
Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t the only holidays to look forward to at this time of year. New Year’s is an often-overlooked celebration and promotional opportunity. Looking to the future of your startup (and looking back on what you achieved in the last year) can help you set yourself apart from all the other tech companies. After all, tech is all about the future.
You’ll also be the beacon of hope for any reporter or writer working in that weird period between Christmas and the new year because they’ll be desperate for extra content. One great way to stay on top of this is to follow the #journorequest hashtag.
Using all of these tactics is great, but it’s a mistake to just try something and forget about it. Instead, follow up on your PR efforts. Sent something out to an influencer? See if they want to talk about how it’s impacting their day-to-day activities. Worked with a charity? See what kind of difference your business has made to the people it helps.
The most important thing to remember when planning inventive campaigns to gain coverage is that PR people, reporters and content writers are constantly being asked to find more content. Because of this, you don’t need to get too extravagant or reinvent the wheel. Keep your brand message as concise as ever, and simply wrap it up in a nice seasonal bow.