We wish you a British Christmas

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Christmas tree @r_henders on Instagram
Christmas tree @r_henders on Instagram

As we embrace winter, let’s get into the Christmas spirit together. “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, sang Andy Williams. It certainly is in public relations.

The snapping sound of Christmas crackers starts the festive season off. We’d better watch out.

At Christmas-time

At Christmas-time, emotional engagement skills are essential in public relations.

During these dark and cold months, the city is aglow with the warmth of Christmas lights. A sense of hope and excitement wraps people cosily in the Christmas experience. Magic is in the air.

There is no such thing as Christmas any more. Craft markets, supermarkets, charities, department stores, high street stores and online retailers are ready well before Halloween and Bonfire Night. Before we realise it, we are walking in the Winter Wonderland in our Christmas jumpers!

The Christmas Waltz starts with a parade of promotional ideas to appeal to the public. Every year brands compete to capture people’s Christmas dreaming.

At Christmas we are all better, aren’t we? Not surprisingly, retailers do their best to get the most out of their public. There are months of planning behind this Christmas season.

In November Christmas posts start to break into our news feeds. There are new emojis to overlay our online conversations. We will soon be listening to Christmas jingles all the way.

People get together in choirs to celebrate with songs the switching-on of the lights. It’s time again to enjoy ourselves with Delia Smith’s Christmas recipes. We are in the midst of the happy season.

PR tactics

Santa is on his way, the public is gently invited to write a wish list. Of course, discounts are a popular treat, online and in stores. Cutting consumers’ budgets is a tactic to make profits.

Creativity finds emotional PR tactics that spark joy. Whatever brands decide, they have to make it special. It’s all about firing up people’s imagination with mulled wine.

This is the season for giving. Another Christmas tactic in PR is to insert love messages into people’s lives. Personalised mailshots are the best Christmas cards. Name your people, this is like a happy smile. Friendly ways of doing things build strong relationships.

Let the Christmas spirit ring, have fun with the newsletters. PR experts use adverbs and adjectives as Christmas greenery, to be as persuasive as possible. The email subject is like the festive wreath on the door: it welcomes us with happiness.

At Christmas-time, a warm tone is a thoughtful gift for the public. For PR, this is a time to show the public you care. Gratitude presents the message gracefully and elegantly.

In the Christmas build-up, small acts of goodness have a deeper effect. Kind words are like roasted chestnuts for those who do PR in the UK. Only by using a courteous approach can we break through British reserve.

The Great British PR Bake Off is on. Every year PR campaigns and gingerbread biscuits make a great Christmas. Bakers know that the secret of success is finding the right decoration. Let this be a PR lesson: a simple idea makes all the difference and stands out.

In a PR context, Christmas is also a reminder to be authentic. ‘Merry Christmas to you’ will be said many times, and in many ways. At Christmas-time PR has a crucial role in building trust in business. Particularly at this time of the year, people want to be listened to and reassured.

Emotional engagement

Oh what fun it is to ride a PR Christmas campaign! It’s all about emotions. The content has more to do with how it feels than how it looks. We are the emotion that we promote.

In the Victorian era, a kiss under a sprig of mistletoe was a symbol of lasting friendship. Now in our social media age, a heart on Twitter show that you like something. Christmas is all about love!

In PR, brand journalism is the new ‘White Christmas’. Joyful advertorials are PR campaigns’ snowflakes. They help to make the season bright in the media. Let it snow!

Now that Christmas is top of the agenda, let your heart be light. Holy Night will inspire a more peaceful society. In PR everybody knows that togetherness gets more coverage.

Christmas adverts are a Christmas staple, along with turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce. Customs evolve, and advertising jingles have become the new Christmas carols.

Along with mince pies, the British have added a new tradition to their Christmas to-do list: the John Lewis advertisement. In the Christmas frenzy, this video fills customers with a feeling of calm. This has the warm effect of cinnamon and spice: it’s beginning to smell like Christmas!

This year it is a merry little Christmas with Moz and Joe’s story. People – customers – feel emotionally engaged and that must be the reason for its success.

Christmas comes for everybody. In light of Brexit, PR in the UK needs to be more aware of people’s emotions and to work through them. This is the right time to reinforce the bond. In fact, the Queen’s Christmas message serves as a bond tying British people together.

John Lewis uses the image of a multicultural family gathered around the Christmas tree to represent British society. Waitrose offers in-store tastings with a menu which is international and intercultural – Italian panettone and gingerbread Danish.

So this is Christmas in PR: we’d better invest in emotional engagement.

A very Merry British Christmas to you!

Miriam Pelusi (@MiriamPelusi) gained a BA degree in Communications from Bologna University then an MA in Public Relations from Leeds Beckett University, where she’s returning to start her PhD studies next year.