Question: I notice every year that some of my competitors get their products into the holiday gift guides that come out in the fall. How can I get my products in those?
Answer: Your question is a timely one, because many print publications with long production cycles are putting together gift guides now for their fall and winter 2014 issues.
As your competition has probably noticed, getting into these guides can significantly boost your sales at a crucial time of year, just by putting your product in front of consumers who are in holiday shopping mode. If you succeed, you may need to ramp up production immediately to ensure that you meet the increased demand you may face around holiday time.
That’s a good problem to have, of course. Here’s some advice on how to get featured in the first place:
Find the guides. If you’re working with public-relations or marketing consultants, they will have access to various media databases. If you’re in do-it-yourself mode, try a resource such as Cision, which allows you to search editorial calendars, says Heather Atherton, president of Atherton Public Relations. These calendars announce what topics will be covered in which issues of a publication, along with providing contact information to would-be advertisers and contributors. Search for “holiday gift guides” and collect as much specific contact information as you can find for the publications you’d like to target.
Reach beyond your typical customer base. Sure, pitch the editors of the magazines or websites that regularly review and recommend products like yours, at your price point. But remember that at holiday time, lots of people who wouldn’t ordinarily be your customers are looking for gift ideas—and they may splurge. For instance, Woman’s Day readers may not be interested in your guy-oriented tech gadget nine months out of the year. But if you position it as a “gift for Dad” or “what to get for the husband who has everything,” you may be a perfect fit.
Tailor your pitch. Target each press release you send out to the readership of the specific publication you’re pitching. “Short, brief messages with detailed information below your signature is a safe bet,” says Joel Andren, co-founder and chief executive at PR software company PressFriendly. Make sure to include: a one- to two-sentence product description with colors and sizes, if applicable; the price at holiday time; and how-to-buy information (most likely your website address).
Include images. Holiday gift guides almost always include lavish photos. “Make sure you have high-resolution artwork at the ready,” Atherton says. “If you’re scrambling to get pictures from your manufacturer, an editor doesn’t want to wait for that. They’ll pass and go with someone else.” Distribute artwork via a downloadable link, not an attachment, Andren recommends.
Be ready to send samples. If an editor is considering recommending your product, she probably will want to see it for herself first. Have product on hand that can be sent out as soon as you get requests, Andren says.
Get creative. Think about how these gift guides are organized. Often they are grouped into lists such as “classiest items under $25” or “gifts for the cook in your life.” Suggest ways that your products can fit into those categories and you’ll make life easier for writers and editors scrambling to meet deadlines.
Don’t give up. If you don’t get your act together to pitch right now, don’t despair. A few weeks or months from now, it still won’t necessarily be too late to be featured on websites or in newspapers, which typically have much later deadlines. Put your press releases up on your website and consider sending them out through services such as PR Newswire. Even if it doesn’t get picked up for publication, “just putting it on the Web will help with search engine optimization for your website and help boost your Google profile,” Atherton notes.