If you're a journalist, there's at least one thing worse than an empty stocking during the holidays: an empty news hole. The bigger the news outlet, the bigger the news hole it needs to fill.
Give your favorite news outlets a gift this year by helping them fill their news holes with stories about your company, its products or services.
When I was a newspaper editor there were two times of year that I dreaded. The first was the beginning of summer when the school year ended. Suddenly there were no more school plays, honor society inductions, no more great teacher features and virtually no local sports stories.
The second time of year I dreaded was even worse: the holidays. Between mid-December and early January, the entire news world tends to shut down. Schools are out, congress goes home and half the country goes on vacation.
As a news consumer, you've probably noticed that a lot of holiday stories start to sound familiar, largely because they are the same old stories brought out and dusted off year after year to fill news pages and air time:
Tuesday Final Day for Guaranteed Delivery Before Christmas
Businesses Hopeful for Last-Minute Shopping Surge
Family Prays for Holiday Miracle
and my personal favorite,
The Year in Review
The one thing all these stories have in common is that the news outlets producing them would love to have something – anything – else to report.
Media Relations Opportunity
This means you have an unparalleled opportunity to get your story onto the evening news and into the morning paper. Even major news outlets like The Today Show and The New York Times struggle for fresh material during the holidays, so make sure your PR firm is pitching your best stories this month as part of a concerted media relations campaign.
Here are some story ideas:
Is your company or industry changing in the next year? Now's a good time to tell why and let readers know what to expect. Was the past year a period of great change? What has that meant for your customers and employees? What are the trends that you see affecting your industry in the coming months?
Do you have new products coming in the spring? Announce them now and start building buzz in advance. If you're opening new locations, now's the time to contact the news media in those new markets.
Put together a list of five to seven tips to help your customers in the coming year. If you're a tax accountant, avoid the April 15 rush and share last-minute tax tips for the current year now. If you're a lawyer, perhaps you could offer to tell readers how to avoid spending the holidays in jail – and how to avoid being arrested while celebrating.
Even the most jaded reporters love a holiday story that is fresh and different. Are you doing something different this year to allow your employees more time with their families during the holidays? Is management working Christmas Eve to allow cashiers to go home early? Do you have a fresh idea for what to do with bored kids during the school break?
While the government is closed might be a good time to pitch your ideas for new legislation or changes in the way your industry is regulated. Any time the government is closed is a good time to pitch stories of any kind. If you don't think so, you aren't paying enough attention to the story mix in your favorite news outlets. When the government goes home, so do most of your favorite journalists' sources.
Let reporters, editors and producers know you're available for photos and interviews throughout the holiday season and on short notice. Help them fill a last-minute hole and they'll likely remember you fondly the next time you want to pitch a story during a busy news cycle.
The week between Christmas and New Years is such a slow news week you could pitch almost any story and get interest. Pitch the right story and you might find yourself on the front page of your favorite newspaper.