Fall has only just arrived, but if you’ve got a product you’re promoting, you’re probably thinking ahead to the holidays.
The holiday gift guides offered by so many print and online publications provide great opportunities for publicity, especially for products that are unique, very new, or have some other quality that makes them novel. There are also lots of niche publications that may leap at the chance to share specialty items that reflect their readers’ interests.
While it’s not too late to pitch newspapers, bloggers and other online news publications – if you start right now! – you may be disappointed if you had your heart set on getting into a monthly or quarterly national magazine. Most (if not all) of those publications plan their issues months in advance. For future reference, start pitching gift guide ideas to those “long-lead” publications about six months out (June for Christmas). And remember, this year Hanukkah begins at sundown the day before Thanksgiving, so it’s already very late for those guides.
But our print division manager, Ginny Grimsley, says daily and weekly publications also offer great exposure and they don’t plan quite so far in advance. If you act now, you may still get into some of them – especially publications in your community or region, which tend to favor local entrepreneurs and businesses.
Many of them will be publishing their guides in November, when shoppers start hitting the stores in earnest, so get going! To give you some help, Ginny offers the following tips:
- Make sure to identify the journalist in charge of gift guides at each publication and customize your pitch for their audience. Take time to research which department, editor and/or reporter is responsible for the gift guide at each publication you target. Pitching to the right person is much more effective then blindly sending out emails. Make sure you shape the pitch so it’s appropriate for that publication. For instance, you wouldn’t want to send a pitch that says “This will make a great gift for your wife” to a women’s magazine.
- Double- and triple-check to be sure you’ve included the necessary information. Write a short description of the item, the price, website for more information, and any brick-and-mortar shops where it can be purchased. Many editors for regional and local publications like to tell their readers where they can find the item in their community. It’s also helpful to include a phone number where you can be reached.
- Add a colorful image of your product. Don’t send the image as an attachment, which may prevent the email from going through to the recipient because of spam filters. Instead, embed it into the text. Use a low-resolution image, but have a high-resolution (at least 300 dpi) image available for journalists who request one. (Low-resolution images may look great online but they’re too small to reproduce well in print.)
- Keep your subject line clear, straightforward and informative. Be sure to use “holiday gift guide” somewhere in the subject line. You might also say something – briefly! – about the product, such as “New beauty item for your holiday gift guide.” Keep your subject line to 50 characters or less and avoid using promotional jargon, all capital letters or exclamation marks.
- Be willing and prepared to ship your product to journalists. While you should not mail unsolicited products to publications because it can be a tremendous waste of your time and money, once you’ve pitched your gift item, you may get requests for samples. Many journalists and bloggers will not include a product in their gift guide until they’ve seen it and tried it. Since they are, in fact, endorsing the items they include, it’s reasonable to expect that they would want to be sure the products live up to claims. They may also request more than one product, so colleagues can try it out and compare notes. (By the way, sending a product does not guarantee that it will be included in the gift guide.)
Thank you, Ginny!
Keep in mind, Christmas and Hanukkah are not the only holidays that inspire a slew of gift guides. Now’s the time to also be thinking ahead to Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. If you do your work well in advance, you’ll give journalists time to respond to your email, receive your product and try it out.
Merry gift guiding!