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The potential problems begin from the start with the assumption that everyone in your office is actually interested in celebrating a holiday dedicated to demons, debauchery or drinking, depending on how you happen to roll on All Hallow’s Eve.
Truth is there’s actually plenty of employees out there who may find the very notion of a Halloween party offensive on religious grounds.
“This is why attendance should be optional – those who wish to observe Halloween in a particular manner or not observe it at all should not be forced to attend a function that offends them,” explains labor and employment law attorney Dennis J. Merley.
This is an area where managers should tread particularly lightly, as it could be unlawful to even tease or allow teasing or peer pressuring of employees who choose not to participate in a celebration for religious reasons.
Another reason parties should be optional is that any accidents or injuries that happen, even after workers have left the party, could wind up coming back to haunt the company.
Speaking of accidents, a party that involves alcohol, cumbersome and often identity-concealing costumes just might be a harassment, OSHA or workman’s compensation disaster waiting to happen.
Sorry to be a wet blanket (which is also not a good costume choice), but it’s just common sense that introducing booze and probably a few awkward outfits increases the risk of a mishap or poor decision of some type.
Now when it comes to costumes, there’s a lot of advice out there for get-ups that are “work-appropriate,” but as labor and employment attorney David Barron advises, even the most innocent idea can easily go wrong.
“Any safe for work costume can be made inappropriate by simply adding “Sexy” to the title,” he explains in a column for The Ladders. “Office Halloween parties are no place for ‘sexy’ outfits, political statements or costumes that might be offensive based on a protected class such as race or gender.”
Barron suggests that offices share clear dress codes for Halloween costumes and even encouraging the coordination of costumes beforehand.
Bottom line, while a Halloween party might seem like a good way to let loose at the office, it’s not an excuse to fly by the seat of your pants or throw caution to the wind. You wouldn’t do that with any other aspect of your business. The good news is that with the right amount of thoughtfulness and planning, there’s no reason to cancel the festivities.
Whether you are looking to gain awareness, improve SEO, or increase sales, having great exposure can help you get there. But PR is not a band-aid for an overarching business problem–nor is it a get rich fast technique.
A great PR strategy can take many years to build. Over the years, I’ve seen many companies start their efforts, only to stop before they’ve given the program enough time to develop. I’ve heard dozens of marketers and founders explain that they quit their PR efforts after their pitch didn’t get picked up by enough outlets in the first few week. Gaining great coverage takes time, pitch optimization, and persistence.
Often times, if a brand could have taken a step back after a rejected story to tweak their angle and try again, the second story they pitch could have been widely successful. Here’s why you shouldn’t throw in the towel for your PR outreach just yet:
1. Relationships take time to build.
Imagine you are at a party. You immediately start talking about you, your business, and your news. Very quickly, many people will not want to talk with you.
The same holds true when you’re building relationships with the media. It takes time to get to know a reporter and what they are writing about and then creating relevant pitches that are helpful to them. When you build trust and rapport with reporters, they’ll be more likely to open your emails, which is the first step to gaining great coverage.
You can build a better relationship with reporters by becoming well versed with their past writings and looking for opportunities to tell them stories of interest. Take a look through their Twitter accounts and personal websites to learn more about what they’re covering and the news that is important to them.
When you reach out to a reporter for the first time, show them that you are knowledgeable about their area of coverage and that your story fits their angle. When we reach out to reporters we make sure to spend time reading their past work to ensure our pitch is the right fit for their area of expertise. It can be easy to burn a press bridge simply by not personalizing an email enough–take your time, do your research, and get to know reporters for the long term. Slow and steady wins the race.
2. SEO is a long-term game.
When you receive a press mention, you’ll likely see a spike in traffic on the day it’s published–but don’t discount the future traffic. If you are a mattress company and you get listed as “The Best Mattresses Ever Made,” you’ll benefit from both the spike and also later from people who are searching for mattresses and come across the article. Traffic from press articles should be monitored for months to come, even after publication.
An authoritative link will not only drive traffic, but will also help your website in the search engine rankings. This boost will not happen instantly. With time and relevant inbound links, you’ll see not just your referral traffic grow, but also your organic search traffic from Google.
3. Press takes commitment–and a bit of luck.
It takes a while to learn about the best way to pitch your product. Each time you pitch, you’ll learn more about what copy and message resonates with reporters.
If you’re not seeing any success, it does not mean you don’t have an interesting story. It might mean you are pitching to the wrong reporters, your email subject line needs work, or you simply didn’t follow up.
By tracking your emails with a tool like SideKick or Yesware, you’ll be better able to see who is opening your mails, what they’re clicking on, and how many times they went back to the email. You can use this data to refine your pitch the next time. With the media always changing, it also takes a bit of luck to pitch at the right time to the right reporter with the right story.
Pitching takes a strong backbone and you’ll get a lot of rejections. If you haven’t had success yet, keep trying. And if you’ve been pitching for months with still no results, it might be time to call in a PR pro to help you optimize your pitch and press kit.
If you’re looking to reap the benefits of the press, start early, optimize often, and plan your strategy for the long haul. This time next year, you’ll be glad you stuck with it.