Frosty department store windows. Sparkling evergreen trees. Freshly baked gingerbread men. A fat man in red, and a jolly ‘ole laugh. We’re all susceptible to the nostalgia in the air this time of year. (I can hear the jingle bells ringing from your Pandora radio—turn it up.)
Even the most cynical reporter or producer has a soft spot for “soft news” this time of year. Chalk it up to the fact that we’ve all been kids…or have kids. Or maybe (return, cynicism), it’s all in the ratings and newsstand sales. But sentimental pitches that might otherwise never see the light of day get special attention around the holidays.
Well, if the media’s feeling extra generous, you don’t have to tell me twice to serve up the goods. The trick is getting your six-geese-a-laying in a row, to pull at those heart strings in a way that pays off for your clients.
Here are a few things to consider, when crafting a little holiday magic during holiday pitching:
Feel-good free-for-all: “Good news” stories are a hard sell, 11 months out of the year. When the cosmos open for a brief four-week period, be ready. Have you been pitching a story about a special family, whose endured uncommonly difficult circumstances, without a single bite? Find out how they’re spending the holidays—it might lead you to a fresh angle that’s just what the media is looking for.
Stockings, gumdrops, and the like: Some might call it pandering…I call it opportunistic creativity. The bottom line: The media is looking to paint a picture for its viewers and readers—to tell a story that brings home what the holidays are all about. When drafting your pitch, use traditional words and phrases like props on a Christmas pageant stage. It’s just not the holidays without the tinsel. To quote a famous lady (Lucy Van Pelt, A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965), “You know, Santa Claus and ho-ho-ho, and mistletoe and presents to pretty girls!”
Season’s greetings: The holidays present a perfect opportunity to let the people around you know how much they mean to you. And I’m not talking about your friends and family—they already know you love them. Send a special holiday greeting card to the reporters and producers you’ve gotten know well. It’s an informal way of growing important relationships, and creating good will for all…
…and to all a goodnight.
Anitra Schulte leads a variety of accounts at Henson Consulting, including Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana, Giordano’s Pizza, the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. You can reach her at anitra@HensonConsulting.com.