The earliest journalist content request for a Christmas related article I got this year (from Peter of Rowing & Regatta magazine) was the 23rd of June.
Print magazines continue to use Christmas to jostle with each other on the newsstand. Even for those mags distributed on controlled circulations, it’s a time for bumper issues, annual round-ups and free giveaways. It’s also the time for most yearly subscription renewals, and that all-important December issue is the last make-or-break chance to make a genuine impression. However, there are less print magazines now than ever, and so the proportion of corporate communications being funnelled to buyers through that channel is getting marginalised.
The typical method of reaching the corporate buyer remains email, and again we see Christmas emerge as a common theme for content. You’re more than likely to receive some of these in your inbox in the run up to Christmas:
- The ‘instead of burning carbon to send you a Christmas card, we thought we’d email you this’ seasonal greeting
- The ‘lessons from 2014 you can put into action now’ list of top tips
- The ‘what’s going to be really important in 2015 that we just happen to be ideally placed to sell you right now’ thought leadership piece
- The ‘countdown to Christmas’ series of promotional emails, with a new one every single day
- The ‘best content/news from the past year’ round-up (great for covering up the profound lack of any fresh content/news)
- The ‘make sure you enjoy yourself this Christmas without having to worry about things that might go wrong as a direct consequence of not buying one of our products yet’ semi-threatening discount deal
- The ‘buy now for no other reason than because it’s Christmas and we’ve stuck reindeer everywhere’ limited time offer
The obvious drawbacks with this approach are:
- It’s a bit hackneyed, isn’t it?
- The amount of Christmas related spam email always spikes during this time of year, and your message is a high risk of being zapped by the recipient (if the spam filter doesn’t get it first)
- Email is also diminishing as a proportion of corporate communications voice, with the slack being taken up by social.
Ah… social. Real-estate wise, we’ve gone from A4 sized magazine cover landing on someone’s desk, to an email subject line enduring in someone’s inbox, to now – with social – an ephemeral snapshot of content appearing momentarily in the line of sight of a busy person’s fickle social media preference. What to put in those 140 characters or less…? Does your community want it to be full of knockabout festive cheer, or to continue engaging them on the kinds of trusted content you’ve worked hard to develop in the other 350 days of the year?
Christmas is 9 characters long (unless you’re the kind of heathen who’d swap for Xmas) and many people are sick of it by mid-December. We all need a creative theme for our content, but how creative is it when it’s the same theme as everyone else?
I say you threaten your integrity by complacently going through the motions with any kind of content. If you really want to share a good old-fashioned Christmas message with your customers or prospects, then you should absolutely go ahead and do it. But if you started looking at the calendar in mid-November and thought: “Eh up, time to wheel out the chrimble schmaltz,” then kindly go and stick it up your chimney.
And before I unwittingly cause offence by overlooking the religious and spiritual significance of Christmas, consider for a moment – by comparison – what vacuous lack of homage a box-shifting IT distributor is paying when it spams customers about its 2 for 1 Christmas offer on Ethernet routers.
A little less Christmas surely makes the Christmas we’ve got left far more special.