Last year, I was working on a sustainability campaign around the holidays, and a TV producer challenged my client and me to come up with some green tips that haven’t been "done before." You wouldn’t think that was such a tall order, but for a national TV outlet, it turns out nearly everything has been done before. LED Christmas lights? Nope. Unexpected ways to weatherproof your home? Over it. Some of the tips were truly different but too "off the wall" for a mainstream audience. We exhausted our list and came up empty handed for the segment.
This whole experience got me thinking – what HASN’T been done when it comes to "green" consumer holiday stories. It’s a tough time to be able to break through the noise if you’re a sustainable company – especially one with holiday offerings for time- and budget-strapped consumers. But, there are still ways to do it! Yes, friends, it’s time to crush and recycle that box and just start thinking (my version of "Thinking outside the box"). What would constitute a news story or blog post that YOU want to read? Here are four ways to make a holiday story pop:
DISCUSS YOUR CHALLENGES. Real businesses and organizations have weaknesses and challenges, and certainly are not "recession-proof" as many claim to be. Reporters and consumers alike are fascinated by how companies have overcome such challenges to beat the odds. Maybe you manufacture eco-friendly dishware and found it near-impossible to get a retail chain to carry your goods. Talk about how you used grassroots marketing and online sales to keep your business alive during the holidays. A high-profile story in a local paper may just mobilize the community to help you out.
SPOTLIGHT REAL PEOPLE. How do the people in your company or organization make a difference during the holidays? If your company has a volunteer day, what is the back story? Hundreds of companies embrace similar initiatives, so a compelling personal story about a specific employee’s real impact on someone in need trumps a generic announcement about corporate giving programs. Or, tell a story about your business operations through the lens of your employees. Try letting a reporter sit in on a holiday sales brainstorming session or talk candidly with employees about what you’ll change next holiday season.
EMBRACE CONTROVERSY. Yesterday, a group of competitive organizations that measure the effectiveness of charities teamed up to debunk a common misconception: Charities with high overhead costs are ineffective. Most consumers think that an effective charity must give the lion’s share of its profits to the cause. These organizations stood up and said, "Not so," and piqued the interest of high-profile media outlets and influencers around the country. Be bold enough to say something that no one else is saying.
LAUGH A LITTLE. It’s the holidays! Why so serious, peeps? Several years ago, my old agency worked on a PR campaign that involved literally blowing up the most hated holiday dessert, fruitcake. Think about the stuffy, longstanding holiday traditions and just add dynamite or healthy sarcasm.