Before the turn of the century — the 20th century, specifically — the New York Sun printed an iconic editorial (“Yes Virginia, There Really is a Santa Claus”) affirming that Santa Claus, indeed, does exist. Well, at least in the hearts and minds of those who can muster up the Christmas spirit this time of year.
But I’m here to lay a claim on this day after Christmas that will shock the communications community to its very foundation: Old St. Nick maintains public relations counsel.
It’s true. In fact, Santa has kept PR professionals busy in some way, shape or form since the dawn of mass communications. Not sure if pioneers like Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays were ever retained by the jolly fellow, but it’s certain that over the decades skilled communicators have crafted effective public relations programs to generate favorable impressions on all things Santa.
What proof do I have for this bold statement? Nothing concrete, yet consider this contention: Santa comes around once a year and really works only one evening, yet his activities rank quite high in terms of realizing key goals (making people happy, promoting peace and good will) and objectives (delivering gifts, driving commerce, keeping reindeer and elves employed).
Efforts to promote Santa realize classic objectives to create awareness (we all know his busy night), acceptance (everyone — well, almost everyone — believes in Santa), and action (whether you believe in Christmas or not, you’ve probably spent money on something holiday-related, and hopefully you found some reason to spread good cheer.)
As for measuring Santa’s effectiveness on international consciousness, I offer this statistic: A Google search on “Santa Claus” generated 25 million search results. This pales to Tiger Woods (56.5 ), million), Barack Obama (76 million) and Taylor Swift (35 million). Yet, remember, Santa works only on December 24th, and he’s never shot and won in the PAG tour, run for national office and won, or participated in the MTV Video Awards and won.
Note to savvy public relations professionals: Give the old guy a few days to relax, but prepare your RFPs for the 2010 campaign. Conduct research, brainstorm with your entire team to craft winning strategies and breakthrough tactics. Win the Santa account. And, if you need a skilled, senior communicator to join your team — to pitch Santa or some other account — I’m listening.