I love this time of year. I’m fascinated by the effect it has on people – the craziness of the city and the shopping centres, and the building sense of urgency in the calls we get from our customers. Like Groundhog Day, we all know it’s coming, but somehow it manages to sneak up on us and send us into deadline-driven frenzy.
I’m also fascinated by the barrage of Christmas emails we get. Each morning I open my inbox with great excitement, to see who’s sent me an animated Santa GIF, who’s made a Christmas video, and inevitably who’s elfed themselves.
Of course the vast majority are HTML emails with nice messages wishing me happy holidays and safe travels, taking great care to avoid religious references.
Now I know I over-analyse these things, but I really study the emails. I look at the graphics, the layout, and I scour the copy in search of spelling or grammatical errors, an occupational hazard I’m afraid. It’s amazing how many errors there are in these emails, but probably to be expected given the frantic state of the poor sods who got lumped with writing them.
So what does your Christmas message say about your company? At the risk of sounding like Scrooge himself, here’s my personal list of top 5 Christmas email boo boos:
1. If I get it on December 24, it says it was a last-minute idea. Bad planning.
2. If it contains spelling errors, it says you lack attention to detail.
3. If it’s a generic e-card with an animated Santa, it says you kind of wish me a Merry Christmas but couldn’t be bothered saying it yourself. You’re happy to outsource the sentiment.
4. If it lists all your successes for the year, it says you’re using a religious holiday to promote yourself.
5. And if you’ve elfed yourself, it says you lack any sense of taste or creativity. Yes it was mildly amusing the first time we saw it, but it’s definitely time to move on.
But all jokes aside, a Christmas message can be a very positive communication piece. It’s all about keeping the content tasteful and appropriate.
You spend so much time and energy throughout the year carefully planning and managing your communications with your clients, so your Christmas message should be treated with the same importance.
Before you hit the send button, ask yourself if it reflects your brand and your culture, or if it’s just one more task you’ve ticked off before you shut down your computer and head out for another round of Christmas drinks.
As a video production house, we do feel pressure to come up with something creative and different every year. But over the years we’ve learned to take a relaxed yet considered approach. We’ve learned that a Christmas message is not about self-promotion, it’s about being genuine with our sentiments and giving our customers a real sense of who we are.
Your Christmas message is a great opportunity to be positive and to show your staff coming together as a team. I love messages that include stories about charitable or community contributions and projects. It’s a great time of year to reflect on what our companies stand for, beyond profit and growth. Providing a great work environment for our staff, supporting worthy causes and genuinely caring about the people we meet through our working lives. It’s a wonderful opportunity to break down the corporate fa√ßade and wish each other health, happiness and success.
Jonathan Packard is managing director of Louder Than Words.