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Creating PR campaigns and placing stories that reflect the season or any relevant holiday are tactics pulled right from the public relations playbook. Valentine's Day provides so many opportunities to connect brands with emotions, and pros shouldn't let it pass them by. Even when the holiday doesn't quite relate to a company's products or services, there's doubtless some way to create a relevant tie-in.
Of course, the modern era of public relations has turned into a conversation between brands, the media and customers in which all sides have power and means even simple promotions require careful oversight. Coordinating with the marketing department, monitoring regional and worldwide trends, and setting up messaging that will reflect well on the brand's image are all PR must-dos as the national and global mood turns to love in February.
Valentine's Day stands out on the calendar
The fact that brands of all stripes launch major branded pushes for attention around Valentine's Day is no secret. Newsweek recently investigated the roots of the connection and found that the general theme and positive nature of the holiday make it stand out on the editorial calendar. The source noted that objections raised about other dates throughout the year - some too solemn or too niche to be turned into promotional events - don't apply to the relevance and positive appeal of Valentine's Day.
When a day turns into a branding and promotional free-for-all the way Valentine's Day has, companies must be creative, authentic and convincing in finding hooks for their campaigns, pitches and placements. Fortunately, there are plenty to be had. There's no reason to pick topics that are too general; as Newsweek pointed out, there are ways to make long-range connections between products and the general theme of love, followed by the sub-themes of candy and consumerism.
Hospitality shows the way
A recent dive by Hospitality Net into hotels' Valentine's Day promotions and attempts to capture long-term attention contained some great advice that can be applied broader than the hospitality sector. Connecting with the spirit of Valentine's Day while also relying on a brand's unique hook is a way to get coverage, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego Director of Public Relations Rana Kay told the news source. For instance, while any hotel could offer champagne and chocolate to couples, only a music-themed establishment could draw eyes with a customized love song playlist, and so on. PR pros can't let the identities they're promoting get lost in the chocolate-and-hearts onslaught of the holiday.
Campaigns, as in love, come in many forms
It's helpful to see and compare how various brands handle the same holiday - especially Valentine's Day. PRWeek summed up how the major U.K. supermarkets approached the 2016 season, with some performing considerably better than others. For instance, Tesco went for a slightly naughty and ironic take on the holiday with Valentine's Day "recommendations" some of which were hackneyed and others off-kilter. Its sly humor helped the promotion draw far more attention from the public than even a full-scale mobile app launch by rival Asda. While any PR campaign that gets close to being inappropriate demands careful oversight by PR departments, it appears Valentine's Day is the time of year to try pushing the bounds a bit.
Generate affection for a brand
With none of the hang-ups that stop companies promoting themselves on more somber or tradition-bound holidays, Valentine's Day is sure to be a whirlwind of activity in your industry - no matter the industry. With so many competing for the holiday campaigns and product tie-ines and news sources promising to be chock-full of earned mentions of companies of all kinds, this is THE season where it pays to have an eagle eye on any potential media trend to lean into and enable your brand to stand out.