Get ready for #ChristmasinJuly
Now we’re into July you may have started to see lifestyle bloggers and journalists posting some fantastically styled Instagram posts with a decidedly Christmas theme, probably using the hashtag #ChristmasinJuly.
‘Why in July?’ you might ask (and it’s nothing to do with Australian phenomenon whereby people seek to brighten up their winter by celebrating Christmas in July, although there are some great Instagram posts on that too). Well, the reason links back to traditional media coverage, particularly in the glossy consumer magazines. These magazines, which cover everything from fashions to homes to gardens, are published monthly and have lead-times of up to six months. This means the editorial is finalised a couple of months before publication, and they hit the shelves up to a month before their publication date. So journalists writing for these titles work months ahead, planning for summer editions during the winter and winter editions during the summer, hence #ChristmasinJuly.
Christmas presents a major opportunity for brands, so finding a way to get their festive ranges in front of key journalists ahead of their lead-times has historically been the role of the press office or PR agency. And it’s a very competitive market with lots of brands competing for the same journalists and bloggers to attend their press shows at the same time of year.
Of course, in the days of online PR and the SEO benefits of links from reputable sites, #ChristmasinJuly offers numerous opportunities for both printed coverage and online coverage on media websites and blogs.
Taking the product to the journalist
One tactic is to take the range to the journalists, literally, by hosting press shows in the buildings of major magazine publishers such as Hearst Magazines UK and Time Inc. UK, both in London. A chance for attendees to interact and engage with the brand is vital, so the press shows needs to be creative to bring the brand to life and maximise chances of coverage. My own experience of these shows includes working on the Christmas press show for Quality Street. With Quality Street’s strapline ‘what’s your favourite’; a cocktail flairer produced Quality Street themed cocktails and journalists were invited to bet toffee pennies on their favourite on a roulette table. Profiles created by a chocolate therapist engaged journalists in seeing what their favourite said about them. And, of course, there were lots of samples to try!
The #ChristmasinJuly shows have since gone to another level. And social media has a lot to do with this, as has the rise of blogging. Pre-social media, the only way to know if your event was successful was to wait for the December editions of the magazines to come out and see what editorial coverage you’d achieved. The shows were pretty much closed to anyone except journalists or the PR people who’d arranged them and there was no other outlet through which to share them. Not anymore. Now, journalists and bloggers rub shoulders at the event and all can share images from the shows immediately via social media. This gives the consumer a sneak preview of the Christmas ranges, but without jeopardising editorial coverage due out in December.
Timing is everything
As the objective of the press show is for the coverage to hit when the range is in the shops (likely to be a good few months after the #ChristmasinJuly event) a key task for the PR professional is to manage the timing of any resulting coverage. This means, where appropriate, bloggers will be asked to refrain from posting their full articles on the show until around the same time the glossy magazines will print theirs, the magazines won’t want to cover something that has been covered in detail by a key blogger months before. So what you’ll see on Instagram and twitter, or on the blog itself, is more of a taster of what’s to come – which builds anticipation and excitement.
The shows themselves
As for the shows themselves, now they’re something else. They take place at amazing venues all over London. The shows offer an experience, with opportunities to engage with brands in all sorts of ways. So much thought goes into these events. For some brands, like Boden, press shows happen each season to showcase their new collection. They employ a stylist for their press show, which included invitations made from ornamental cabbages for their Spring/Summer 2015 event, so you can see the level of detail. In this blog post, blogger Kat got the Cream reveals how the Boden press days inspire her:
“I have to say I love attending these events as the ‘set design’ is always so inspirational and I even got to do a bit of crafting (peg doll decoration-making!!!). There was also a chance to do some calligraphy which I sadly missed out on. I did however get to pick out three of my favourite items (to be revealed on the Boden blog soon) including an amazing military-inspired denim jacket and lots of lovely embellishment.”
I also loved reading about how Leyla Brooke from This Day I Love managed to attend 15 #ChristmasinJuly events in one day! Leyla managed to visit the Christmas press shows of Playstation, Lakeland, Asda, Phillips, Aldi, Little Rooster, Tesco, Dobbies, Poundland, The White Company, Dunelm and Morrisons; as well as shows by three PR agencies working across a number of brands. This gives a real flavour for the number and variety of #ChristmasinJuly events out there.
A case study by The Bright Consultancy shows how a PR agency can showcase a range of clients’ Christmas ranges under one roof as a multi-brand press show giving journalists and bloggers masses of content in one go. Their clients, which included Le Creuset, Dunelm Mill, Roberts Radio, LEGO, LEGO DUPLO and Great Little Trading Company, plus a number of external brands, each had mini exhibition stands to show press their Christmas collections and the event attracted 327 journalists.
And for a press show which gave Christmas a summer twist, this Waitrose event sounds to have got it spot-on:
“Prince Philip House was magically transformed into a German style Christmas market. The rooms took guests on a journey from the initial gift wrap stage of the festive season through to Christmas day itself, ending with an entire room dedicated to Heston Blumenthal. The Mall terrace was fully decked out with stylish seating, BBQ style turkey and Harry Brompton’s alcoholic iced tea – delightful on a hot and sunny day!”
So, if you want to see what’s likely to be hot this Christmas, make sure you check out #ChristmasinJuly on Instagram and Twitter for a sneak peek…..
Blog post by Caroline Joynson, jrc.agency Associate.
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