Ten PR and Marketing Lessons from Trick-or-Treaters

October is a busy month filled with preparations for Halloween, hayrides, and PR strategy! As you review your plans for media outreach, keep these ten tips from trick-or-treaters in mind:

1. Pick a creative costume to stand out from other trick-or-treaters

There are dozens of witches and black cats and superheroes. While you may be the one true Superman, a casual observer will not know the difference. Fewer trick-or-treaters and candy greeters see Nightcrawler. Find the distinctive insight or expertise your team can offer that will make you stand out. This ensures you get more repeat visitors (or calls from journalists).

2. Keep the light on

If your porch light isn’t on, trick-or-treaters will miss your house. Likewise, making the information about your company or contact information hard to find will make a journalist lose patience and pass over your company. Make key facts and contacts prominent and easy to find.

3. Building a reputation as “the fun house” takes time

One year with “fun” trick-or-treat giveaways or decorations is insufficient to generate a reputation among the neighborhood kids. No amount of neighborhood lobbying changes this. The same is true with journalists. Fortunately, you have more than once per year to share information and experiences about your company.

4. Quality jack ‘o lanterns require time and attention to detail

Well-carved and creative jack ‘o lanterns require time and care. When you rush, the results are sub-par. A slip of the knife could turn “BOO” into “POO.” Ensure your marketing and PR materials are typo-free and spell everyone’s name properly. Before sending press material to a journalist, have someone with fresh eyes review it.

5. Don’t offer something you’re not prepared to give

If you give quality candy to one trick-or-treater, be prepared to give this to every kid who visits your house. The same is true of working with journalists. If you share a bit of information, other reporters will notice. While each journalist seeks a unique story, once the facts are out, they are public domain. Prepare your talking points carefully, and only bring up new topics once prepared to answer questions.

6. Offering dental floss? Expect a predictable reaction

Companies have an idea of what they would like to be known for, and the questions they’d like to be asked by reporters. It’s worth examining whether those expectations are realistic. Children will pass over apples, dental floss, raisins and other healthy trick-or-treat options at the end of the night. Likewise, you will be edited out of the story if your pitch is convoluted, or doesn’t offer the journalist something useful.

7. Don’t be so quick to shut the door in a teenager’s face

There is a debate each year before Halloween. Should the candy be saved for “little kids,” or does the fact teenagers are trick-or-treating mean they are staying out of trouble? Likewise, an unexpected request from a journalist may not seem initially relevant to your immediate business goals, but you never know how that relationship will open new doors in the future.

8. Respect different traditions

Dia de los Muertos, All Saints’ Day, and other religious observances coincide with Halloween in many communities. Just as smart community leaders let adherents take the lead in honoring their tradition, let a journalist share their expertise and experience first. Read provided briefing notes carefully, do your own research, and let the journalist surprise you with their expertise.

9. It’s worthwhile investing in quality costumes

Dollar-store costumes may fall apart after two blocks’ of trick-or-treating. Homemade costumes may not look like the intended character or reference. Likewise, hastily-prepared data or facts which repeat well-known wisdom will not impress a journalist or prospect. When the holes are evident, either in the costume or business argument, your audience can see straight through.

10. Stick to your home block as you gain confidence

It can be easy at the beginning of a new PR program to want to rush ahead to the “bigger street.” However, rushing through interviews, pitching top-tier media before you have results which are coverage-worthy, or thrusting your CEO into the spotlight before she feels confident can have unexpected risks. Don’t ignore vertical trade and regional business publications. Build your executive team’s and the company’s market traction so that you are ready when the national spotlight turns in your direction. Balance “home block” opportunities with “busy streets” to ensure your executives and PR program grow at a manageable rate.

Fall can be an exciting time for new marketing and PR campaigns. Back from vacation, journalists and prospects are ready to learn about your company. Keep these ten tips top of mind, and gain all the treats of quality media relationships.

Maura Lafferty is an influencer relations specialist, with a particular focus on media outreach over social channels. Maura has ten years’ experience in public relations, and relationships with media working in national, California, and Silicon Valley newsrooms.

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