Christmas is just a jump away!
The thought of Christmas on this hot and sunny day is way too much for me, but many publications will already have their festive gift guides and publications underway! Why? Christmas publications invariably start publishing articles and guides in October and November rather than December.
As editors are often looking for a unique product or something different, a small brand has just as much chance of getting listed as a large one. Large brands will get in on the act purely as they have lots more people on the case!
If you have a product or festive service you want to promote, how can you get in touch with these publications?
- Research (again!)
Take a look at all the publications covering your industry or interest area, including national, regional and local publications.
Find out if they usually run a gift guide and find out which journalist is in charge of putting the guide together. You can ask for their email and name if you are calling a journalist but is it also likely to be in the public domain anyway.
The media resource systems are good for this, but they are not cheap so you may want to work with a PR freelancer who accesses these and see how they can help you.
- Making contact
This poor journalist will be surrounded by tinsel already so be kind to them! They will be getting hundreds of emails everyday so make sure your pitch stands out and meets all the needs they have, such as high quality, high res images.
When sending pitches, begin with larger national magazines before moving to local ones. Larger national quarterly or monthly publications will have much longer lead times, while regional and local magazines, regional TV and online publications have much shorter lead times, which could run into December. For national magazines, their deadlines are usually in August, but some are looking right now!
- Writing your pitch
Be concise! Use just two or three paragraphs to explain your brand or product and how it fits into the magazine and will appeal to their readership. Show you have a good understanding of their readers by explaining why readers will buy the product.
Is your product unique? Is it newsworthy? By this we mean is it linked with a topic which the media are already interested in?
Make it clear what your email is about. Using Christmas Gift Guide in the subject of your email works well. You can add in the publication name if you are sending individual emails, which I suggest you do.
Images are absolutely crucial! Gift guides are visual and the product will need to look great with the other products they have in mind. Messy backgrounds or images will not help.
Place your image in the body of the text rather than adding it as an attachment – this can clog up a journalist’s inbox and waste valuable time. Some journalists will prefer a low res image at this stage but make sure you note that high res images are available in the same format. A plain white background or transparent background are often requested and invariably you will need a png and jpeg file of these.
- Sending samples
Don’t be scared to send off samples or offer samples of your product to the journalists. Plan ahead so you have the samples to hand if your offer is taken up and make sure your packing and postage is sensible.
- Following up
Some journalists hate it and others will respond to you, particularly when they want more information on your product. Leave it a week or so before you harass them and only send one email: phone or email stalking will not help your cause!
It can be helpful to ask if there’s someone else you should email at the publication just in case you don’t have the right person for the festive gift guide you’re pitching for. They will invariably send you off in the right direction or just call the publication again and check.
If you don’t get a response, don’t worry as it is pretty normal in PR land! Just move on to the next person on your list.
Keeping an eye on social media can be really handy in the run up to Christmas and during the festive period as journalists sometimes tweet or post on Facebook about products they’re looking to feature. They’re often working to shorter deadlines for local magazines or smaller publications, so remember to reply quickly and within their deadline dates.
If you know you are getting a mention in a publication or on an online site, keep checking both as it is unlikely you will get a copy sent to you. Once spotted, you can use a scanned image or screenshot to promote the inclusion on your social media posts.
It is nice to thank the journalist and goes a little way to fostering your good relationship!
With a little time and perseverance, you’ll be surprised at the results you can get for your business by being pro-active ahead of the festive season. If this is your first time trying to secure coverage for Christmas issues and you would like a little help, please do get in touch and I can help you with adhoc support focusing on developing your pitch, developing your creatives or sourcing journalists.