Christmas time is here for public relations professionals. With spring on the horizon, now is the time to plan and organize your media relations efforts for holiday gift guide outreach.
Although consumers will notice gift guides popping up around November and December, most top-tier publications will begin to round up ideas much earlier. With lead times typically 3-6 months in advance, PR professionals should have our pitching wrapped up by the end of August. This helps to ensure a successful holiday pitching season, and our outreach strategy should be planned out even further in advance.
Securing that coveted spot in a holiday gift guide popular media outlets can result in millions of high-quality impressions for your client. It’s especially important during a critical time when consumers are willing to spend money on the year’s best gifts. Here at The Brandon Agency, we recognize the significance of landing that prime real estate for our clients’ business. We’ve developed helpful strategies for obtaining meaningful coverage. From websites to polished magazine pages, we’ve got you covered when it comes to securing top-tier gift guide placements.
Preparation is key
To land a quality feature in a holiday gift guide, you must plan your strategy. Take these steps before diving into your pitch.
Research competitor coverage
To help you understand your audience and what categories your products may fit, review gift guide coverage your competitors scored last year. This can give you an edge on competitors and insight to what media outlets your audience is interested in and which editor from the publication is compiling their gift guide.
Find the right media outlet for your brand’s audience
After competitor research, list media outlets you want to target in your outreach. Pick sources from your competitor research that would be a good fit for your brand. Also, research sources that compile annual holiday gift guides that attract an audience that fits your brand.
Remember, when looking for gift-guide opportunities, quality is better than quantity. One piece of coverage in a highly-visited publication with an audience that correlates with your brands will carry more weight than ten in blogs and websites with limited traffic and influence on buyer decisions.
Pitch the appropriate contact –
Now that you have our list of target media outlets, make sure you pitch the correct editor at each publication. Most outlets have specific editors dedicated to compiling gift guides. You might have to dig a bit to find them.
Develop an editorial pitch calendar
Using Excel (or Google Sheets), compile a list of target publications, the appropriate editor, and their deadlines for their gift guide. Timing is everything. According to an article by Power Digital Marketing, “Both print magazines and online editorials want their staff writers and reporters to plan far ahead for success, which means that pitch deadlines typically end around July or August.” If you wait too long, you’ll miss your chance to secure that spot in this year’s gift guide.
Perfect your pitch
Now that you have an editorial calendar telling who to pitch and when, you must execute. Crafting the perfect pitch is crucial. You’ll want to stand out among a sea of emails in an editor’s inbox. Here are tips to take to develop the winning pitch.
Personalize your pitches
Editors receive hundreds of emails every day. They know all of the tricks. Sending a generalized email will delegate yours right to the trash. Personalize your message to the recipients on the other end. Using research from your planning stage, start the conversation with a message relating directly to that editor, and transition into your pitch.
Tailor your message to fit the publication’s specific gifting categories. For example, if an editor is working on “Christmas ideas for the trendy teen,” provide a message featuring the product that fits best with that category.
Offer the best gift-giving items
When deciding which of your brand’s products to pitch, choose those that fit best with the gifting category, but also products that make the best gifts.
Include high-resolution photos
Just like us, editors and reporters are busy. They don’t have time to respond to every email, which is why it’s critical that we provide them with all of the information and assets concisely. Editors require high-resolution photos to go with the feature, so include it up front. Send photos through Dropbox or a Google Drive link. Unsolicited email attachments can doom your message straight to the spam folder.
Be prepared to provide samples
Almost every publication will require samples. Communicate this with your client ahead of time so they are not caught off-guard when you’re asking them to ship a free product. At The Brandon Agency, we work with clients to create a code or a media discount so we can order the product straight from the website to the writer to streamline this process.
Since you planned in advance and have given yourself time for outreach, follow up to all target media that did not respond. Editors receive hundreds of emails daily. Yours could have gotten lost in the mix. By following up, you get one more chance to prove your product is worthy for inclusion. Include details and provide any additional assets that might be useful.
Don’t get discouraged
Keep your head up. Even if you don’t land your dream (or your client’s dream) holiday gift guide, you can still build relationships with key media along the way that you otherwise might not have. By doing this outreach, you introduced yourself and your brand to a handful of quality editors and reporters that will come in handy down the road.
3 hacks to winning this holiday gift guide season
1. Create your own gift guide
Hosting a gift guide on your client’s website is a great way to get exposure for your products. Involve your SEO team to provide insights on key search terms boosting your brands presence online.
2. Check HARO
Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is one of the fastest growing publicity sources in North America. Through HARO, journalists submit queries specific to topics they are on deadline for, with hopes that the best PR source can swoop in and shed their expertise. Around the holidays, countless blogs and publications turn to HARO for the best products to highlight in their upcoming gift guide.
3. Cultivate media relationships
Throughout the year, we build relationships with media members and pitch them unique story ideas. Capitalizing on these relationships for quick holiday gift guide features is a must for PR success.
There isn’t one magical potion to get your brand featured in the most coveted magazine in the industry. But at The Brandon Agency, we use these tactics to develop a strategic program to share the products of each of our clients. Interested in learning more about how we can help your brand? Contact us — our experts in Charleston, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, and Orlando, are here to help you implement a program that will ultimately move the needle on that sales dial.