Christmas may seem some time away, but for furniture marketers keen to make a splash in the glossies and online, it’s never too early to start snapping those festive promo shots, writes Press Loft’s founder, Nicola Snell …
As I write this column, I’m prepping for the summer holidays with my family, and it feels like the sun is finally ready to make its debut – so you may be surprised to hear that, professionally, all I’m thinking and talking about is Christmas!
But it’s certainly not just the gift or interior accessory brands that can capitalise on Christmas press coverage – furniture companies can use Christmas as a way to generate features too.
At Press Loft, we’ve been monitoring the Christmas activity of our community of brands, journalists and vetted influencers closely over the past three years, and are seeing titles start on Christmas earlier and in greater numbers every year. We’ve also identified key themes and tips for furniture retailers to ramp up coverage and make the most of the festive marketing opportunities for Christmas 2022 …
The key to having your products featured in the lead-up to Christmas is predicting what an audience will be wanting to read about or see, and therefore what the journalist is likely to be writing about. Trends are an effective way to do this (we publish regular trend reports online if you’re not sure where to start).
For furniture brands specifically, it can be a little trickier (but certainly not impossible) to land coverage than your gift industry counterparts, as sofas aren’t a particularly common gift! The trick is knowing how to position your product within a hook.
Some key topics that we see covered in press for furniture brands every year are ‘Refreshing your space ahead of Christmas’ and ‘Prepping your home for guests’. This could include, ‘Five fresh ideas for your guest bedroom’, ‘Top tips for tablescaping, ‘How to bring a hotel feel to your guest room’, ‘How to ensure you have enough seating for Christmas’, ‘Lighting tips for festive ambience’, and ‘Styling your living room/ hallway/ bathroom in three easy steps’, to name just a few.
Not only are these angles a great way to get your products featured, but they can also help build brand authority if you can put an expert within your team forward for an interview or comments.
Sustainability and the cost of living crisis are two social elements expected to be dominating conversations this Christmas. If you have products that aid warmth, reduce electricity usage or help people keep costs down, people will want to know about them. If you offer a rental option for the Christmas period or have products that are multipurpose/ transformational (such as a coffee table that extends for use as a full-height table, or innovative takes on a sofabed), then shout it from the rooftops.
With all of this in mind, we’re expecting that Christmas-based articles could start being published even earlier than usual, to help people think about the season sooner and, most importantly, spread the cost – so now is the time to be thinking about how you want to position your products for the press.
The right shot
Christmas is the busiest time of year for journalists, with some telling me they receive up to 300 emails and press releases a day. For your best chance to stand out amongst the crowd, you should ensure your image library is styled to perfection.
When it comes to furniture specifically, props are everything, as your products themselves aren’t necessarily festive. You can consider using fairy lights, baubles, decorative stars, wreaths, festive tablescapes, candles and Christmas trees in the corner of a room. These props all work well to bring a festive feel which can mean your shots make it into the Christmas editions of publications.
Don’t forget that styling accessories are secondary and your product has to remain the hero. A simple but effective tip we use is the ‘squint test’. A quick trick is to simply squint your eyes at the screen or page and make sure that the product is still the dominant asset within the shot.
It’s important to know that for many magazine and newspaper titles, budgets are tighter than ever, resulting in less doing their own editorial shoots, which would have been the norm before. This means that, with the right image, the chances of having your brand image considered as the feature picture in an editorial have never been higher.
In my last column, I spoke all about the importance of imagery, and this rings particularly true at Christmas. The same standard rules apply – minimum 300dpi and top-notch lighting. Also, remember that whilst they look great on social and on your own website, for press, you’ll want versions of images without any models.
When it comes to Christmas, we would encourage a professional photoshoot over a self-shot one. Professional shoots are, of course, costly, yet usually worth it at this time of year. To make the investment more meaningful, really think about your upcoming campaigns, activities and seasons, and rotate and remove props accordingly to get shots for them all.
Like all PR activity, timing is everything – and it’s particularly important to understand when journalists and influencers are likely to be working on relevant pieces in order to generate the most coverage. They can be put into two categories:
• Long lead – think your glossy magazines. They will start working on Christmas as early as June, and have well and truly put their articles to bed by September. The earlier you can start communicating with these journalists, the better – especially as these longer leads tend to be the ones most furniture retailers and designers want to be in
• Short lead – this covers everything from newspapers to broadcasts, and bloggers to online versions of monthly magazines. They will be working on Christmas closer to the actual festive season. However, it’s still important to engage with them no later than the beginning of October if you can
If you’re itching to get started on Christmas PR but are wanting some more guidance, visit our website for a host of free templates, guidelines and advice!