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Sheena Stephens - So You Want to Play the Holiday Toy PR Game?

`Twas the week before Q4 and all through toyland, not a person was sleeping unless their toy was in demand. Once again, the holiday toy season is upon us. That’s really just a formal way to say, it’s go time! And while some toy and game companies have already initiated their well-planned holiday PR campaigns, others may be worried they missed the Polar Express. Although it’s not ideal, it’s not too late. Here are some tips to help you jump into the holiday toy PR game.


You’ll need to be prepared to approach media and respond with the best possible materials. At minimum, you should have a holiday press release, product descriptions and product images. Most importantly, take the time to determine the most media-friendly attritubute your toy or game brings to the table, and focus on that throughout the media materials. Is it the first of its kind? Is it highly demonstrable? Is it the most affordable?


Every media outlet will be talking about holiday toys in the coming months. It’s the natural news cycle, so think opportunistically to insert yourself into the conversations as the go-to toy and game expert. Of course, everyone has sugar-plum visions of GMA and Ellen dancing through their heads, but start with your local media and own it. Pitch yourself or someone in your company as the local toy and game expert to demonstrate the hottest holiday toys on the TV news programs. Pitch a business story to profile a local toy maker (you) and how they prepare their business for the season. Don’t forget about hometown and school alumni media outlets as well.


Keep a close eye on trends that may elevate your brand or specific products. Comb media and pop culture to determine trending products and themes – and think outside the toy box. Track trends across entertainment, tech, fashion and food and attach your brand to something relevant. It creates an opportunity to get the attention of national media that may not typically report on toys.


If you don’t have a dedicated PR team, and you’re trying to handle PR on top of everything else required to run a business, it will be next to impossible to carve out the time required to execute a successful holiday PR campaign. Consider a PR agency as a valuable extension of your marketing department. In addition to rich industry expertise and a stellar track record of media placements, look for a PR partner with established media relationships in the toy industry.

Now it’s time to get busy before the holidays fly away like the down of a thistle. And hopefully, come January, we’ll all get that long winter’s nap!

With more than 15 years of public relations experience, Sheena has expertise in toy, consumer and lifestyle brands. For the past 10 years, in both agency and in-house positions, Sheena was responsibe for the public relations machine behind Razor (scooters). Last year, Sheena led the launch of the wildly successful Razor Crazy Cart, which won the 2014 Outdoor Toy of the Year award and enjoyed holiday sell-out status. Currently working with toy companies including Moose Toys and Chillafish, Sheena is a Vice President at MWW, one of the top mid-sized public relations firms and one of the five largest independent agencies. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and three kids, and her favorite childhood game was playing Yahtzee at her grandma’s kitchen table.

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