The festive season may barely be on your radar yet, but you can bet that editors and journalists at the largest publications have certainly already got Christmas on the brain.
Small businesses and brands often don’t know where to start when contacting journalists, so we have put together a step-by-step guide detailing how to get products into festive magazine gift guides, to make everything simple and easy. In our guide you’ll learn:
- How to find publications best suited to your brand
- How to contact journalists responsible for festive gift guides
- What to do after you’ve sent your pitch
It takes a bit of effort and perseverance, but there are some brilliant benefits to having your products feature in the Christmas press:
– If you manage to win coverage in a small publication, this will give your brand credibility and may help open the door to larger publications when sending pitches
– You’ll increase awareness of your brand and get your products in front of more eyes
– Of course, you’re likely to see a bit spike in sales and inquiries as consumers spend more during the festive season than any other time of year
A Step-By-Step Guide to Securing Festive Gift Guide Coverage for Your Business
It’s important to remember that magazines, especially those with a very large readership, work up to four months in advance, so they’re already starting to plan features and think about the types of products that they’ll need for their Christmas issues.
If you remember that publications start to print gift guides and Christmas articles in October or November rather than December (when consumers may have already finished compiling their Christmas shopping lists) then it makes sense that the earlier you start thinking about securing Christmas press coverage, the better!
You might think that only very large or well known brands are included in festive features, but this often isn’t true. At this time of the year, editors are looking for unique products, while consumers are on the hunt for something special that could make a gift for that friend or family member who has everything (and we all know at least one of those!). Despite this, it really pays to be pro-active when it comes to Christmas press coverage as you can’t expect a busy journalist to just happen across your products.
There are several steps that you need to follow when pitching products for festive issues and it’s important to not miss any out. But if you put in a little bit of time, you should see big rewards!
Let’s move onto the first step:
Step 1: Gift Guide Research
The first step in pitching for coverage is to do your research. You need to take a look at all of the publications available in your industry, including national, regional and local publications to find out:
- Which publications usually run gift guides?
- Which of these publications would my products be a good fit for?
- Who is the journalist in charge of putting the guide information together?
- What is full name and email address of this journalist?
If you’re having trouble deciding which titles are best for your products, think about the different types of customers they could appeal to. For example, would they work well in a gift guide for dog lovers? Foodies? New mums? Travel enthusiasts? Shoppers on a budget? Once you know exactly what kind of person you’re aiming your products at, it will make choosing publications and pitching much easier.
Although most publications lift their staff on their website, it might be tricky to find the exact contact details for the specific journalist that you want to email. You can try social media, LinkedIn or Google to find their contact details, however, if you have their name, this is often enough to work out their email address if you know the format that the magazine uses for their email system.
For example, you’d like to contact ‘XYZ Magazine’ and the journalist in charge of the section that relates to your products is called Anne Smith. You have seen an email address for Joe Bloggs which is j.bloggs@XYZmagazine.com, so you can conclude that Anne’s email address is probably a.smith@XYZmagazine.com.
Step 2: Making Contact with the Journalist or Editor
The next step is to make contact with the journalist via email – always do this in writing rather than over the phone so that the journalist can very quickly see all the important information about your product. Journalists can get hundreds of emails a day at this busy time of the year, so you want to make things easy for them!
When sending pitches, begin with larger national magazines before moving to local ones. Larger national quarterly or monthly publications have much longer lead times, while regional and local magazines, regional TV and online publications have much shorter lead times. For national magazines, their deadlines are usually in August, but it is still worth researching publications if you’re writing pitches later in the year.
If you’ve left it very late, websites and blogs often have very short lead times, so you might still be able to secure some type of coverage for your products or brand.
Writing and Sending Your Pitch
Thinking about the Text of Your Pitch
– When writing your pitch, you should use two or three paragraphs to explain your product or brand and how it fits into the magazine or publication.
Be sure to explain why the magazine’s readers will want to buy from you as this shows you have researched the publication and have a good understanding of what it is looking for. Keep your first contact short – a busy journalist won’t have time to read pages and pages of information.
– To make your pitch stand out, you might think about what makes your company different as well as why your products are unique – have you managed to create a new Christmas tradition or does your team work on Christmas day?
– Show your intent from the off by using ‘2018 gift guide’ or ‘Christmas gift guide’ in the subject of the email. Adding in the publication title and type of gift guide you’re pitching for will ensure your email doesn’t look like it was copy + pasted to hundreds of journalists. For example ‘XYZ Magazine New Mums Christmas Gift Guide’.
Adding Images to Your Pitch
Remember to include a picture of your product with your pitch – this is crucial. Gift guides are visual and the recipient of your pitch will want to make sure your product is going to look great with the other products they have in mind for the feature.
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.
Don’t be scared to offer to send samples of your product to the journalist. You should plan ahead in case your offer is taken up, so think about the logistics of postage and packaging ahead of time. Packaging your gift in an over-the-top way will only impress a busy journalist if you’re showing off an unusual product feature. Instead, take the time to package samples in a simple and careful way.
Before sending pitches, make sure you have all the product information to hand ahead of time. This could include dimensions, finishes, colour options etc. Also make sure you have additional images ready, including high resolution images, which are a necessity. Images on a plain white or transparent background are often requested, so ensure you have at least a couple of these if you don’t already!
It is also worth reading our blog post on the 5 things interiors and gifts journalist don’t like before you double check and send your pitch.
If you receive a reply from a journalist, don’t dither before getting back to them – not replying quickly could mean you lose out on coverage for your brand.
Step 3: Following Up
Following up is something you should definitely spend some time doing, as you can expect more enquiries to come from your follow up email than your original email.
About a week after sending your original pitch, send another email to the journalist asking if they require any extra product information. You can also offer to send another sample of your product.
Journalists receive lots of emails every day, so don’t follow up too soon or send more than one email if you don’t receive a reply. 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.
If the journalist replies and indicates they’re thinking about your brand for festive press coverage – great! If not, don’t be disheartened, just move on to the next journalist in your list.
Keeping an eye on social media can be really helpful 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!
After You’ve Been Mentioned in a Christmas Press Feature
Journalists and editors will likely be too busy to send you a copy of the publication or link to the article, so you’ll need to check yourself to find where you’ve been mentioned. Once you have a screenshot or a scanned image of the gift guide, tweet or post about it on social media to make sure potential customers see that you’ve been mentioned in the press!
Finally, don’t forget to thank the journalist with a quick email – this is not only polite but also great for fostering good relationships with journalists in the hope that they will think of your brand again in the future.
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, you may be nervous, but follow our tips above and you’ll be well on your way to success! If you have a question, why not leave a comment below?
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