Avoiding Holiday Hostility Using Public Relations

shutterstock_312679511-1Diffusing problems, figuring out the best story to tell, potentially dealing with some hostility, and trying to stay neutral. Did I just describe a public relations pro at work, or you at your family’s holiday dinner?  Public relations can be the perfect way to avoid getting “wrapped up” in any holiday drama that may arise. Here’s a crash course in how to use it and have a peaceful holiday.


  • Create positive talking points

I’m not telling you to script out your Christmas dinner, but having a few positive talking points to resort to can seriously come in handy. If there’s a topic you know someone is going to bring up (a divorce, the election, a cousin dropping out of school), be prepared to address it in a positive or neutral way, or have something to change the subject to.


  • Find the right angle

Everyone has their ups and downs over the course of the year. You can still talk about the not-so-great times, and it’s easier if you have the right angle. So when your nosey neighbor asks about your ex that you brought to the 4th of July BBQ, you can say things ended, it’s for the best, and you finally signed up for that cooking class you were interested in. You’ve masterfully steered the conversation over to something positive, just like a true PR pro!


  • Know your audience

This is a huge part of public relations — knowing who is going to be interested in your messaging, and how to position your information to cater to them. This can easily apply to conversations with family. Reconsider talking to your Grandmother about Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna’s drama. Maybe don’t talk to your uncle that posts #MAGA memes on Facebook about the Obama family’s Christmas card. It seems obvious, but know who you’re talking to, and what they’re going to be interested in.


  • Manage crises

Arguments happen no matter what! It could even be over something like forgetting to put your new sister-in-law’s cake out on the dessert table, which is then interpreted as a purposeful jab against her. Depending on the situation, there are a few things you could do to try and diffuse the situation: acknowledge if a mistake was made, apologize, and say you’re going to do your best to fix it. Then, once things are sorted through and those involved are less emotional, following up and ending on a positive note.


I hope this conceptual understanding of public relations comes in handy to those who need it. If you use any of these methods, let me know! Happy Holidays.

Also published on Medium.