Yes, it’s that time of year. For better or worse, the Holiday juggernaut is about to bear down upon us.
As co-owner of a retail business, and as a PR pro with retail/consumer product clients on the roster, I spend a fair bit of time each Fall trying to score placements in those “gift guide” features that all media seem to publish in December. Most of the time, my work involves pitching products. On occasion, I try to get businesses some ink.
The “gift guide” comes in many forms. A media outlet might run a series of will listicles (i.e. – “Five great gift ideas for the foodie in your life”) in an existing, regular section. Other times, an outlet may publish an insert that is in effect a standalone section (Montreal newspaper La Presse – the largest French language daily outside France – is famous for it’s giant gift guide). Bloggers may run a series of posts on their fave things. You get the point.
Regardless of format, generating placements around the busiest retail season can move the needle in terms of sales.
Here are a few tips to help you score coverage in Christmas gift guide features:
- Start early. As you already know, we’re way past the date for submission to print magazines. However, newspapers and lifestyle sites like Sweetspot or Vitamin Daily are also well into the planning of their gift guides. If you’ve been doddling, get on it now or you may miss the boat.
- Find out who has overall responsibility for the gift guide and reach out to them. If you’re working on a placement in a blogger’s gift guide, the person to talk to is obvious. However, at a bigger outlet things are often more complicated. Newspapers typically assign overall responsibility for a guide to a specific person. This might a section editor, but can also be person who is normally a reporter. Bottom line, you need to find out who’s in charge. Ask contacts you have at the outlet to give you a name. Next, reach out. You will want to know: what categories are being profiled in the guide; who is writing about what category, and how to reach them; the reporters’ deadlines; whether an outlet has specific editorial policies about mentioning where a given product can be bought (this is important, especially if you have bricks and mortar retail clients).
- Don’t get greedy! Keep your pitches short and on topic. Once you know who’s in charge of the gift guide, you’re ready to email them a pitch. Don’t get greedy and send them something that has 25 product ideas (unless they’ve told you to). By keeping it short, and including only the most relevant information you’re more likely to score coverage. Attach web resolution pictures of products and/or the stores you’re pitching. This way you won’t clog up people’s inboxes and are still be able to provide images. In the same spirit, if you’re including video send a link, not a jumbo sized file.
- Be ready to send hi-res pics if you get a bite. If you’re successful certain media may want more than web-res photos. Not having this will incur the ire of those who liked your pitch.