It’s the holidays, the 4th quarter, the most wonderful (and crucial) time of the year. This is where some companies, journalists and PR teams stand out and others bite the dust…hard. Making a good impression at this time of the year doesn’t just solidify your holiday season status, it affects your year-round status. There’s a lot at stake. It’s time to do more than just survive the holiday season, it’s time to thrive. Here’s how to do it up right without ending up on the naughty list.
1) Spell and use holiday references correctly: The Associated Press recently released a holiday style guide of words, phrases and definitions related to the religious and cultural holidays of December and January
. I especially like the last entry: “Xmas: Don’t use this abbreviation for Christmas.” The holidays are about peace on earth and goodwill, and butchering holiday terms goes against both. Furthermore these aren’t just any holidays, they’re sacred holidays, and messing them up is the quickest way to make enemies. Further proof that careful fact checking and spell checking can save a lot of grief.
2) Cater to the Customer: Provide some sort of incentive for shopping at your company’s store. This goes beyond great customer service, which is certainly part of it but not enough in today’s world of daily deals. Today’s customers are looking to be rewarded. A good example of this is Wal-Mart’s Christmas Price Guarantee
. Between November 1st and December 25th, if a customer buys an eligible product at Wal-Mart, and then finds the same item advertised for less at another store, Wal-Mart will give the customer a gift card for the difference through December 25th. Wal-Mart’s Christmas Price Guarantee is a reflection of the everyday low prices they are known for, which makes this a great fit for Wal-Mart while bringing in more customers who may not usually shop there. Results? Profits go up, more people become lifelong customers…you see where this is going.
3) Be Like Mike, Not Like Lowe’s: Lowe’s recently has taken a lot of grief over their decision to pull their advertising off of TLC’s “All-American Muslim”
. Perhaps if they had other logical reasons for doing so this would not be the huge blowup it has come to be, but they don’t. Basically, they decided to base their decision on the views and urgings of a Florida evangelical group called Florida Family Association. Florida Family Association stated the program was “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.” They urged advertisers to boycott the show and Lowe’s followed suit. Although Lowe’s later apologized on Facebook, and claimed they pulled out because the show is such a volatile topic, it isn’t enough. A Facebook apology won’t prevent a boycott and their actions speak of discrimination louder than any words they say to claim the contrary. Not a good move during the holiday season, or anytime, and not a good way to handle the situation that results.
Alright, so now we’ve looked at three ways to avoid the naughty list. Although each point seems to point to a specific group of people, each is by no means exclusively limited to a certain group. Journalists, public relations professionals and companies should pay careful attention, at this time of year especially, to their words and actions. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and other times words speak louder than actions. Regardless, either can land you on the naughty list. Economists are cautiously optimistic about 2012 so it’s more important than ever to end the year and begin the new year on the right foot. Till next time, make the holidays merry and remember, Santa is watching you.