The hottest week of the year and here I am writing about Christmas. It’s ridiculous.
In truth, it’s not just me struggling to stitch together festive metaphors while the sun is cracking the flags; there will be feature writers all over the country gearing up for Christmas, right here, right now.
Because, in the retail world, there’s this phenomenon called ‘Christmas in July’. It seems crazy, but big, high-street brands such as Liberty or John Lewis will already be settled on their Christmas campaigns.
Adverts and photoshoots to support these festive promotions will be happening right now. Dogs and children wearing jumpers will be sweating under studio lights, while attempting to act as though it’s ‘nice and cosy’ by the fire.
This month, magazine and blog writers will be attending the ‘Christmas in July’ open days. These are a series of retail events for promoting with will be hot this Christmas (although, clearly, not as hot as it will be at the actual Christmas in July event). They are usually held in sticky, stuffy offices. Journalists get the low down on this year’s ‘it’ bauble and which toys our children are going to be desperate for come November. I expect they’ll all the while be gazing longingly out of the windows at office workers sunbathing in Green Park.
In August, the features editors will be commissioning their top 50 Christmas gift listicles, and party frock reads, for you to get your mitts on in their December issues.
Clearly this is crackers, but, because the big business marketing world is just sooo darn organised all the rest of us have to be too.
There is a knock-on effect for trade press, local press, the online world and social media platforms. If you want to get your tech gadget featured in a year-end round up or a local event covered in a local magazine, you need to start thinking about how to do it now!
And, to be fair, it’s not just Christmas when this happens. For any coverage in local or national press, the deadlines for submission are likely to be waaaaaay earlier than you imagine they are.
For example, where I live, the local publication needs final artwork or content submitted on the 5th of the month before print. So, if you want to advertise a Valentine’s Day offer, it’s no good giving the publication a call two weeks before to ask them to promote it, they will have already gone to print. You’d need to supply your artwork by the 5th of January. Which, as it happens, is just about the first day back at work after the Christmas break, so in reality, I’d personally be aiming to submit my content before the Christmas break.
See what I mean?
Now, in amongst all this angst and stress, there is useful tool I’d like to remind you of: the humble editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar is not just for Christmas, and nor is it just for magazines.
Every business should have a simple calendar to keep a track of annual events and promotions, the lead times for developing promotional content and themes for the content pieces required. Having a calendar like this can really help you to keep ahead of the deadlines.
If you need help to put one together, just shout, it’s how we like to roll around here.
And, just a little heads up, at the time of writing, it’s exactly six months until Christmas Day, so, definitely time to start planning!