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PR and Halloween

It’s October, so you know what that means!

Yes, time to check out all the Christmas and New Year’s displays at your local stores!

Seriously…the Halloween stuff has been on display since late JULY. I’ve always wondered about this, I mean, who seriously would buy their trick-or-treat candy 2+ months before Halloween??

But..there’s a method to the madness as a friend pointed out.

“No, you want to put the Halloween candy out early so people will buy it NOW, eat it, and have to come back and buy MORE for when Halloween actually rolls around,” she said.

Smart. Because when it comes to marketing and promotion, it’s not about what makes SENSE, it’s what makes CENTS.

Which brings me to another recent incident, this time involving my fiancée, an admitted Halloween fanatic.

We were trolling through the Halloween section at TARGET and it hit me how much Halloween has changed from a “promotional perspective.”

Once the province of the single-digit-age-crowd, Halloween is now a booming industry; there are whole stores that pop up (replacing all the fireworks stores that pop up two months before July 4th) that do nothing but selling Halloween stuff…costumes, décor, dinnerware, everything from giant skull table center pieces to spooky bathroom towels to lighting fixtures and…well, you name it.

Halloween is now an ADULT holiday (sorry Linus and the eternal no-show Great Pumpkin), with particular emphasis on the college-and-just-out-of-college crowd if the assorted “Steampunk” costumes and accessories were any indication (anyone over 30 is likely to think “Steampunk” was a Seattle grunge band from the early 1990s).

I recently went online to a site called PartyCity that offers all manner of items, including costumes for adults (found a nice one for my fiancée). The point is, Halloween, once the province of cheap, flammable Irwin Mainway type costumes for kids, now has something for everyone—there’s a term for this. It’s called “MARKET EXPANSION.”

For a PR person like myself, this means “new opportunities,” depending on what industry in which you work.

Of course, if you’re in the kids-toys-costumes business, nothing much has changed…except that now you might try marketing to adults, not merely to get them to buy the kids your product, but to buy your product for themselves.

Being a subscriber to media query services like PROFNET and HARO (Help A Reporter Out), I’ve noted the rise in Halloween-oriented media queries, everything from “best foods to prepare for your Halloween party” to “what’s the most popular new item to buy for Halloween” to business-oriented angles like “what role does Halloween play in predictions that consumers will be spending more money this 2013 holiday season?”

This is why I drill my PR students again and again on the concept of TRENDS—BE AWARE, check the media every day, what’s happening, what’s changing, what’s yesterday, today and tomorrow…and you do that, not just by scanning your daily Wall Street Journal and CNN feeds, but just by keeping your eyes open…like when you’re visiting Target. There are trends to be seen, to be seized and capitalized upon.

When you’re in PR, you’re like a cop (always a popular Halloween costume btw)…you’re never really off duty!