The madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday has come and gone, mostly through our inboxes, Instagram and Facebook. Just like consumers being bombarded with holiday messaging, our favorite media and influencers are also trying to sift through their inboxes and social feeds to determine what is the most relevant to getting their job done. Brands share the pain as they face the challenge of how to find consumers that don’t want to be found, not to mention adjusting to the rapidly changing retail landscape.

According to Adobe Insights, American shoppers spent a record $5 billion online in 24 hours on Black Friday (16.9-percent increase in dollars spent online compared to Black Friday 2016), while retailers sent nearly three billion emails. According to Salesforce, over the weekend, mobile made up 64 percent of shopping visits (up from 54 percent last year). Cyber Monday sales surpassed $6.6 billion, making it the largest digital shopping day in U.S. history (Adobe Insights). By 10:00am Monday, consumers had spent over $840 million (Adobe Insights).


Today, buyers are being overwhelmed daily by unwanted ads, emails, and pop-up intrusions and are becoming more distracted by thousands of brands through hours of mobile media consumption all day, every day.

What are consumers doing to fight back? Taking cover. Blocking 32 percent of ads, according to John Moore, global president of Media Hub. Hiding from the very brands that want to reach them and among other things, embracing ad-free subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu.

What are media doing to stay on top of the deluge of emails? Looking for kick-ass subject lines that grab their attention, trending topics that are pertinent to their beat and to today’s news cycle, and personalized pitches that show the PR person has done their research. Then, pressing delete, delete, delete on emails sent from PR practitioners that have not mastered the art of the pitch.

What are brands doing to reach consumers that will help ring cash registers in the all-important Q4 and make investors happy? Embracing mobile. Creating user-friendly and intuitive cross-platform shopping experiences to drive web traffic and enable instant purchasing. Delivering personalized, data-driven email advertisements, although only 40% of shoppers say the information they get from retailers is relevant.

Here are three straightforward rules of thumb for navigating holiday madness:

For PR Pros: Be Thoughtful and Strategic in Targeting Media: Seems simple. Do the homework. Know the outlet. Know the journalist. Assume that your client may not suffice for the feature they want. Make the story more compelling by adding brands that support your client and the larger story.

For Brands: Tailor Consumer Messaging: Today’s consumers, young and old, are more mobile and tech-savvy because they have to be. Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z, and yes, Baby Boomers, are more particular in the brands they choose, but also have a much lower “BS” factor. Create and provide a personal connection through tailored campaigns that align with consumers’ preferred methods of communication.

For Marketers: Solicit Brand Partners with Like-Minded Passions for Creative Connections: Earlier this year, Dunkin’ Donuts partnered with Waze to understand where consumers were driving, how many Dunkin’ Donuts establishments they passed along the way, and how often they pulled in. Dunkin’ Donuts then used this data to partner with Waze on an ad campaign called “Waze Order Ahead”, enabling DD Perks members to submit food or drink orders to be picked up on-demand. The program increased app usage, incentivized Dunkin’ customers to join the perks program, and generated a continuous stream of feedback and data for analysis.

“Be the thing, not the thing that sells the thing,” concluded John Moore of Media Hub in Boston during a media innovation event in October. Be authentic. Transparency and honesty go a long way.

During the hectic holiday season, engaging with media and consumers may be frustrating. Don’t over think it. Keep it short and sweet and speak thoughtfully to the intended audience. Be interesting, be relevant and be personal. Common sense will go a long way.

Happy Holi-Daze!