There was a time, before the days of social media, 24-hour news and ‘content creation’, when August in the UK signified a unique opportunity in the consumer PR’s campaign calendar.
With parliament in recess (and the usual scathing story about the Prime Minister’s holiday choice out the way), national features writers and columnists could be found fishing around on the editorial conference room floor for yesterday’s discarded stories, in a bid to fill their broadsheet pages.
Cue the “silly season”.
Like the highly trained opportunists that we are, PR’s would be waiting in the wings, poised to swoop in and primed with brand-lead, page-turning press stories that would secure coverage in national news titles otherwise out of reach of nation’s favourite tomato sauce or washing powder.
These lighter, more far-fetched stories reported anything from supernatural sightings in brand factories to rugby players changing their name by Deed Poll (remember Paddy Power from Tonga)?!
However, that was then. Is the same still true now?
With the rise of social and digital media, consumers now get their news fed to them on their smart phones, linking them in lightning-quick fashion to their favorite website, blog or influencer. It doesn’t matter if the reader is sat at work or lounging by the pool, these channels don’t slow down over summer and they don’t change how they report. Similarly, brands and their agencies are less reliant on the once extensive reach of the national newspapers, now seeing the benefits of a more targeted and qualitative approach through digital influencers and online magazine titles.
The Great British summer is also now jam packed with consumer experiences up and down the country; festivals and sports events all bursting with commercially driven, lifestyle-brand activations, luring consumers to ‘roll-up roll-up’ and immerse themselves in the world of the latest craft beer brand to make it big. With the opportunity to create a living, tangible brand experience to drive product awareness, it makes far more sense to direct your agency’s attentions towards experiential over the summer, than the unbelievable novelty story in The Sun.
With branded experiential running alongside the always on digital news agenda, the summer is now one of the busiest times for PR agencies that have consumer brands on their client list.
So, does this means it’s all over for this quirky British tradition? Thankfully not. Lighter stories will always have their place over the summer months, but it’s important to remember – it’s the longer term communication strategy that you should really have your eye on!