I got my first work-related Christmas gift this week, which means that the gun has officially been fired for Pre-Christmas, traditionally the busiest time in the agency PR calendar. Yes, it’s that time again, when you try to juggle the sudden flurry of pitches from everyone who’s realized they need to kick off a campaign in January with client/contact lunches/ drinks, ‘quirky’ Christmas and New Year news stories, the office Christmas party and trying to get Christmas cards out so they actually get read before Christmas Day. All of this will inevitably be made harder by the fact that half of your team are using up all the holiday days they forgot to take in the Summer, and the other half have flu, or exhaustion, or both. And theoretically, at the same time you should also be sorting out your own personal Christmas, though if you’re anything like me, by the time it arrives, you’re pretty much over it and just want to eat chocolate oranges in a darkened room.
So, as “a seasoned PR professional” (as I was once described), I have the following words of advice to help others currently staring into this particular festive abyss:
– Avoid ‘pitch frenzy’. When a load of stuff comes in at once, as it often does at the end of the year, it’s tempting to go for it all, working under the misapprehension that ‘things wind down near Christmas’. They don’t, and you’ll end up doing 10 things badly rather than 5 things well.
– Prioritise current client work. They’ll still be there in January, hopefully, and it’s not good form to ignore them for a month, or to look like you’re about to nod off every time you see them.
– Tackle everything early. Get lunches in the diary and restaurants booked, update the Christmas card database, sort out the Christmas cover roster, ideally all before November is out. These jobs are not fun come mid-December when everyone’s tired and grumpy.
– Embrace Christmas in your office. Get a tree, wear funny hats, drink gingerbread lattes, tell cracker jokes, buy inappropriate things for Secret Santa. If nothing else, it generates a sort of slightly unhinged Dunkirk Spirit that will bring you through darker days.
– Finally, it’s not in the spirit of the season, but be a bit selfish. You have every right to have time to get your Christmas shopping done and see your mates and stay at home under the duvet if you’re ill. I’ve literally finished shopping at the station waiting to get the train home some years, and it’s an added level of stress no-one really needs. So carve out time for the stuff that actually matters at Christmas, not just work.
Merry Pre-Christmas to all!