Although most marketing and communications departments are winding down for the holidays, I believe now's the ideal time to put the pedal to the metal.

Why shift your public-relations efforts into overdrive? Because most of your competitors won't be muddying up the space in your local, regional or industry media, that's why.

You may think, as many marketers do, "Well, why bother to publicize my product, service or organization if everyone is distracted?"

The answer is simple: People are actuall not distracted. Plenty of your customers, partners, and clients still need to fill their minds with intellectual pursuits during even the busiest holiday seasons. And I can assure you that, for many executives, catching up on industry news and events often tops their list (their reading list that is, not their wish list of presents).

So, here are five of my favorite PR strategies to educate and entertain your prospects on even the coldest, darkest night of Christmas, Kwanza, Chanukah, or even Festivus:

1. Do a Quick Year-End Summary

Speak to four or five key customers, prospects, and an analyst or two, and write an 800-word year-end summary of what happened in your collective worlds (i.e. was your industry, up, down, or flat in 2012? Did your company fare particularly well? If so, why? Ask key customers to share what they can in terms of performance). Yes, just write it up.

Now, ship off the piece to an industry trade publication. Each one has a daily website that is positively ravenous for fresh content during the holidays.

2. And...One More Time!

Repeat step one. But, this time ask four or five different customers, prospects, and an analyst or two what the year 2013 will be like. Again, focus first on your organization (after all, if you don't, who will?).

Then, ask prospects and customers to make general predictions. Wrap it up in a neat bow and ship it off to a top regional business publication (i.e. Crain's Chicago Business, etc.). They, too, salivate for fresh material furing the final fortnight of December.

3. Feed Off the News: It's the Economy, Stupid.

Leverage the recent national election and upcoming fiscal cliff by either penning a piece that carries your name and title (or, better yet, partner with a top customer or vendor to write a co-bylined article).

Let readers know what four more years of Barack Obama will mean to your business and industry (without any polarization, thank you very much. The Pole is reserved solely for Santa during the holidays).

4. Tips. Tips. Tips.

Kris Kringle always asks kids to tell him what presents to leave under the tree.

At holiday time, the media are as content-thirsty as a pack of parched reindeer that've just finished a round-the-world delivery run. So, sit down and ask yourself: "If I were to put together five tips I think every customer would benefit from, what would they be?

Or, take an inward look, and list five tips your think every employee should consider if she aspires to one day hold your job. Ship those tips off to the media before midnight on December 24 and you just might find a nice little present in the form of free publicity awaiting you on Christmas Morning.

5. New Media, Baby!

Forget the heavy lifting of writing. Who needs it?

Besides, it's not what it's cracked up to be anyway. Instead, spend about $150 for basic audio-visual equipment, and record a 15-minute podcast with a few of your key customers or prospects. Re-visit any of the topics mentioned above. Send a link to every important trade and business journal in your universe, and also post it on your website. It's what we PR types call thought-leadership and, trust me, podcasting is not simple, but at least it's easier than selling snow to an Eskimo.

So, celebrate the holidays this year in the right way (at least from an entrepreneurial standpoint). Go forth and publicize while the rest of your competitors are busy roasting chestnuts on an open flame.

They'll be the ones who get scorched in the end.