Killing the Game: 5 PR Black Friday Strategies E-Commerce Players Should Consider

Public relation practitioners for retailer outlets – now’s a great time to listen up. If there’s ever a time where you need to amplify your client or company’s visibility, it has to be during the month of November. November is like the NFL, NBA Playoffs and FIFA World Cup of Sales. For one month, retailers will be competing head to head in terms of the best discounts and promotions with Singles Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

As public relations and marketing go hand in hand, within these few weeks left in November is the best time to rethink your campaign strategies to ensure your clients and products raise awareness among consumers and nail their sales target for this season.

I for one believe that it takes more than just sending out a press release about your client participating in the sale event or even about the number of sales your client documented during this period unless of course the number broke a new record. First things first, as much as we would like to highlight our clients’ accomplishments you have to enlighten our dear friends that not everything is newsworthy.

Raison D’etre: Why Are You Wasting Your Time Doing This? Harsh question aside, one of the crucial things to do before setting out on any public relations campaign is to clearly set out your key objectives – what are you really trying to accomplish with this campaign. Are you trying to reach out to the consumers? Do you think consumers would want to read about this or do you think social media engagement would reach them better? 

Plan in Phases. With any public relations campaign, it’s best to plan in phases. For one, it clarifies your objectives,projects, timelines and expected outcome and results for each phase. This helps you stay on track for your public relations campaign as well as manages your boss and client’s expectations.

One way I would suggest is divide your campaign into two phases Pre Black Friday and Post Black Friday. List down your planned strategies before Black Friday – media seeding and influencer activities as well as strategies after Black Friday like a media event, post release and anything else you would have in mind.

Not only should you strategize in terms of pre and post campaign public relations strategy, also consider the major areas which you will focus on.

Get Creative with Your Media Approach. Throughout the year I’m pretty sure all of us have bombarded our dear media friends with too many press releases and emails – often not even bothering to space out each and every pitch for a span of at least a month. I get it, different clients have different ideas of what is understood as breaking news (most of the times not always that newsworthy).

Black-Friday Sale oriented pitches should be slightly different. Be creative with your media approach as you need to consider the fact that during this sale season, each and every retail outlet will put out the big guns to get media platforms to publish their stories.

A basic rule in public relations is to be a human being and surprise your media with a gift at times and not just a press release. You have a Black Friday sale report to pitch? Gather your media friends at a fancy breakfast club and sneak in your report later.

Social Media Is Your Best Friend. What do you look at first thing in the morning? Don’t bother lying that you do not peek at your Facebook. I cannot emphasize enough how we should really make full use of social media tools for outreach. No, not to harass your media friends about receiving a press release pitch. But more of reaching out in terms of campaigns.

Take a look at Sephora for example. During Black Friday, Sephora decided to change their game by using Snapchat to promote sneak peeks into their Black Friday offerings. Not only did Sephora build up excitement successfully for their campaign, but they also created hype across all of their social feeds. Air Asia did a similar case study as well – using Instagram Story for a different occasion not Black Friday. Your initial content might not be interesting or newsworthy at first instant, especially when it’s related to numbers (hello snooze fest), but the way you delivered your content in social media forms could strike a chord with a different media platform altogether. Genius much?

You always need a Plan B. I know its good practice to have confidence in your campaigns, but I also believe that a PR crisis is like a natural disaster – there is no warning. Meteorologists can tell you so much but the most you can do is prepare for the worse. Black Friday, Singles Day and Cyber Monday are actually crisis prone, believe it or not. There’s always a likelihood of something going wrong with immense web traffic or lack of product availability. Be prepared with your crisis SPL (or Standard Party Line as my ex-boss used to call it). And to be one step ahead of the game, always keep a few on standby and never think that it is the best time to take a break immediately after these sale dates as a crisis can occur anytime.