Prompt pumpkins and public relations

It’s crazy to think that in 2014 we were still lamenting about how early pumpkin spice lattes hit Starbucks’ menus. If only we knew then that the pumpkin spice latte brand would evolve to include new masterpieces that span the beverage spectrum.

No matter what you think about the onset of cultural fall, which begins several weeks before the solstice, you can’t knock Starbucks for putting the PSL out there. It sells. This makes PR pros wonder, should we be planning this far ahead? Check out our throwback blog for the answer! 


I love fall! My family, best friends and even my co-workers know this little fact about me because I share it constantly when a cool breeze hits or they see me get really excited from my first sip of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte. The love of fall started when I was very young and getting excited to go trick-or-treating or bake Halloween cookies with my mom. I’m a sucker for fall marketing madness (and any holiday really), but I feel like too-early marketing for fall has hit an all-time high this year. We’ve all seen Halloween candy in Walgreens and CVS for a couple weeks now, and Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte on Aug. 25! It’s a very exciting time of year as the season approaches, but why so early?

In PR, we plan. Actually, we plan really far in advance. We pitch holiday story ideas months early (three to six months in some cases) for possible editorial placement to tie into publications’ editorial calendars and to put it bluntly, because it’s a saturated time of year, we have to get ahead of the game! This is acceptable in media outreach, but people would think I was crazy if I started decorating my apartment and entryway already for Halloween (I might have already bought a couple of pumpkins… #oops).

From another PR perspective, while every company offering a product wishes they could predict the next pumpkin-like fad, there are a few concepts to incorporate into a media strategy including when to engage a stakeholder (or reporter), knowing who they are and what drives them and offering content that is relevant and that they can relate to. The same holds true when planning for the holiday season. While the overall public probably sees the Hallmarks and Mars Companies of the world starting their efforts a bit prematurely, media outlets are already planning gift guides, event wrap-ups and topics for “best places to do [insert exciting activity here].”

In all cases of planning, it’s a good idea to have a strategy. In some cases, a SWOT analysis can help in creating a plan to gain a sustainable niche in your market. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. For more information about SWOT analysis, check out this Mind Tools article.

What are your thoughts on the holiday craze and planning for media outreach for the holidays? Comment below!