While most people are basking in the summer sun, the elves that support the toy world are already planning for the holiday season. Year after year, fourth quarter sales prove to be the most vital for the toy industry. Although holiday shopping officially kicks off on Black Friday, careful planning begins in the spring to ensure products are poised for a successful holiday season.
- Makin’ a list: This has nothing to do with being naughty or nice. We’re talking toy tests, awards, retailer hot lists and more! Everyone wants to be on them – and the more prestigious the list, the greater the media exposure and, ultimately, the greater the drive to purchase. Believe it or not, deadlines for these start as early as June, so it pays to be prepared ahead of time, especially if there’s a risk of impacting production and overseas shipping schedules.
- It’s all about whom you know: Yes, it would be great to have a line directly to Santa himself, but if you’re in the toy industry, it’s imperative that you and your PR team have relationships with toy industry influencers. These are the folks the media turn to for trends and what’s hot. Just knowing the right people isn’t enough – you need to make sure they’ve gotten an early look at your product (back at Toy Fair in February or even sooner). These people are experts in the industry for a reason – they’ve seen it all – hits and misses. Take their feedback and advice seriously.
- Spreadin’ the word: All types of media are important – magazines, newspapers, bloggers, online media – and they all have a direct line to your consumer. Make sure you take a look at each outlet individually to see where your product would be a good fit. For example, do they have an annual holiday gift guide? Don’t leave any stone unturned.
- Manage expectations: Everyone has had that Christmas morning where they didn’t get that one thing they really wanted. Not every toy your client produces is destined to be the next Cabbage Patch Kid, Tickle Me Elmo or Furby! Here’s where the early reads from the experts and your experience in the toy industry come into play. The bottom line is that the toy needs to be great in order to achieve great exposure. Sure, you and your client may want it to be on every hot toy list but, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean you can will this to happen, even with the best intentions. That’s why your PR plans needs to be wrapped with additional tactics that you and your client will consider wins, beyond the award themselves.
Happy (early) Holidays!
Brian and Sue Murphy are Co-Directors of Toy Practice at Coyne PR