While it may be a faith-based celebration much like Hannukah and offer a time to reflect on one’s family like Kwanzaa, there’s no denying Christmas is the most celebrated (and commercialized) event of the holiday season. It’s filled with family, charity, food, and tradition — and there’s nothing that captures that all quite like A Charlie Brown Christmas.
If you are a faithful reader of this blog, you may remember an earlier post about three great public relations lessons one can learn from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. (If you missed it; click here to get up to speed!) But for as great as that tale is, A Charlie Brown Christmas — which aired one year earlier than Pumpkin, all the way back in 1965 — just may be the late Charles M. Schulz’s most beloved animated work.
A Charlie Brown Christmas begins with the titular character depressed because of all the commercialism and greed he sees around him, which leads him to search for the true meaning of Christmas. Through his journey, he eventually finds it, inspiring the others who once scoffed at his actions to change course and do the same, allowing them to come together in the true spirit of Christmas.
Keep yourself in great spirits this holiday season by considering these three PR lessons from A Charlie Brown Christmas:
Lesson #1: Take Advantage of Opportunities (Especially Where Others May Not See Them)
Evil as she might be for pulling that football away from Charlie and threatening her brother Linus, you have to admire one thing about Lucy: she always knew a good business opportunity when she saw one. While her offering of therapy for a nickel might have been cheap it also served a purpose, as she was able to develop a loyal customer in Charlie Brown — which is ironic since her torment was a prime reason he needed therapy in the first place. Talk about creating and capitalizing on your market!
From a PR perspective, creating opportunities not only helps your clients, but also improves your reputation as an innovative and forward-thinking business. Showing your ability to be creative in your outreach efforts also goes a long way toward ensuring that reputation is positive.
One example of a brand that has created such an opportunity is Domino’s Pizza. The company’s “we’re sorry we weren’t that good before” campaign capitalized on something few brands (if any) had before: the chance to admit something wasn’t good and, in doing so, show what the company will do to make it better in the future.
The company’s latest bold move? Recognizing the boom in delivery and the ongoing impact of the pandemic on independent restaurants by giving away gift cards to local eateries. Simply saying “if you’re not going to order from us, please visit one of these restaurants” is a simple yet an effective way to help local restaurants get business back while Domino’s reaps the reward of a more positive reputation.
If you can find an opportunity, take it — it worked well for Lucy, and it can for your brand, too.
Lesson #2: Being in Charge is Thankless, Yet Necessary
One of the key lessons that the titular hero discovers in A Charlie Brown Christmas is that everyone wants to be in charge until they discover what being in charge means. Often, being in a leadership role means that everyone blames you, everyone wants you to cater to their every need, and anything that goes wrong is your fault (especially when it’s not your fault at all!).
Some PR campaigns go great, some not so much. When the results of a PR project you’ve worked on have you feeling a little less than cheerful, your best bet is to find someone who understands that you can talk to about it. Perhaps it’s another peer or colleague in the PR world, or someone outside the industry altogether; either way, having someone to talk to (just as Charlie Brown had Linus) can go a long way toward easing the burden of leadership and reminding you of what makes your organization great in the first place.
Lesson #3: Celebrate Your Successes Together
Especially in the fast-paced world of PR, it’s quite easy to get caught up in looking only at the things you could do better. Maybe a different opening paragraph would have gotten more clicks on your email release, or maybe you caught a reporter on a bad day … whatever it is, it is important to always try to improve. It’s also just as important, though, to celebrate the things you do well.
When things turn around at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, everyone is together enjoying the moment. Celebrating the successes in your work is what makes everything worth it. Metaphorically speaking, as Charlie Brown proved, you don’t need a fancy tree to have a good Christmas, you just need a good spirit — and the same can be said for the people with whom you work.
As the pandemic has brought about multiple changes to our collective lives, knowing that you are part of a team that is able to come together and celebrate in such a way is especially important at the end of the day. In fact, perhaps Charlie Brown put it together best when he said: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.”
Looking for more holly jolly PR tips? Check out “3 Ideas for Designing Your Company Holiday Card,” then learn about “Public Relations Lessons from our Favorite Holiday Movies.”