Holiday gift guides are the holy grail of product PR. When else do your lovely products get showcased to people hungrily searching for things to buy when they are also effectively promoted by the site or magazine itself? It’s rare, powerful and something you’ll definitely want to achieve.
However – it’s challenging to get your products into a gift guide because everyone else wants their products in there too so journalists have a wealth of options. But here are three steps to give your products the best shot to make it into the guides you want to be featured in.
SMART PITCHING IS ABOUT KNOWING WHO AND WHEN
You need to be very targeted with gift guide pitching to maximise your chances. A good way to get started is to make a list of every possible site or magazine you would like to be featured in, and then check which of those have gift guides.
Next to each listed publication, identify which of your products will most appeal. It’s a good idea to pitch a handful of options. We recommend choosing one hero product to lead with, but also offering details and images on three to five more just in case. Getting hold of previous gift guides will equip you with good insight into what they’re really after.
Once you’ve got your target publications and probable products, think carefully about what kind of lead time they need. If it’s a print publication, especially a higher end women’s or interior magazine, it may be as much as three months in advance.
The big gift guide is of course Christmas, but thinking more broadly will reveal a range of other options. Many online sites also run gift guides for events such as mothers and fathers days, Easter, Halloween, and even seasonal changes.
Once you know what and when to pitch, it’s time to work out who to pitch. Gift guides won’t necessarily have bylines on them, so it can be hard to know who to send your carefully prepared email to. If there is a byline, obviously you pitch them. If not, find the closest section or topic editor to your product or the event as possible.
If you’ve been covered by the target publication in the past, you can also email the journalist or editor you liaised with then. A friendly email asking if they or a colleague are working on the gift guide and here are some options can easily be forwarded on if you have an outstanding product and a bit of rapport to work with.
BE SPECIFIC AS POSSIBLE IN YOUR PITCH & GET IN EARLY
When suggesting your gift for the guide, keep your email as brief (yet personable) as possible. Name the publication, the section, and the gift guide you’re targeting specifically.
If you can reference a recent article or social media post by the journalist that is related to your product, it can help to build a connection. For example, your first lines in the pitch could be something like:
“Hi Sophie, loved your Insta post about your Sunday evening relaxation rituals/article and how taking time for yourself is important no matter how busy you are. It reminded me that you might be interested in our product [insert your lovely product’s name here] for your winter gift guide.”
We recommend sending your gift guides pitches a little earlier than a standard pitch. This means your product is top of mind and can be included into the page from the outset as the journalist or editor begins to create their collection in their mind before they sit down to prepare the actual guide. This also gives you the opportunity to follow up a week or two after the first pitch and have ample time to confirm its inclusion.
Samples can be a very powerful shortcut or deal closer for gift guides. If the journalist or editor has experience with your product, they’re much more likely to include it. Not everything can be sent as a sample, but think about if there are ways to directly connect and impress the journalist to your product or company.
IMAGES ARE MAKE OR BREAK
This can surprise a lot of business owners, because we so often think of journalism as a written exercise. But gift guides are primarily visual works. It’s very normal for a product to be included because it is a good colour or shape to run alongside the products that have already been selected (or in colours that complement the ad running on the other page in a magazine).
To give your products the best possible chance at making it on the page, you’ll need to offer high-resolution images at least 300 PPI (pixels per inch) that both show the product in an attractive context and deep-etched. The best way to send your hi-res images is of course via a trackable Flaunter link! Editors love being able to browse a selection of images and download them on demand with all the necessary details attached PLUS you’ll be able to see if they actually downloaded what you sent them 😉
Gift guides are usually comprised of deep-etched images, but occasionally the image of the product in an attractive context will be used, especially by online sites or by social media. The in-context image also helps you convince the journalist or editor or influencer about how lovely your product is (and therefore must be included).
GIFT GUIDE 101
1. Be super targeted with gift guide pitching. Get started by making a list of every site or magazine you would like to be featured in, and then check which of those have gift guides.
2. Study previous gift guides to get ideas about what type of products, price points and themes are likely to be planned for this year. Remember that if you miss the print publishing deadlines then you can pitch out to online publications instead.
3. Identify which of your products will be most appealing and then pitch a handful of options. Choose one hero product to lead with, but also offer details and images on three to five more just in case. Remember – this is not the time to send everything you’ve got!
4. Create a story that connects your product to the holiday/event you’re targeting.
5. Consider doing something special – limited edition holiday collection, bundled products, publication specific discount, gift with purchase or a charitable/cause element.
6. Be patient with your media contact – assembling Gift Guides takes time. When you do send follow-up emails, try to include something new such as a fresh image or angle.
7. It’s not just about the product. Ensure that your website and social media are up to date and that you have enough stock to meet demand after the Gift Guide is published.
8. Think outside the box and suggest a gift guide theme (an editor will love you for it!). We love “Gifts for your sassy single sister” and “What to get your boss without looking like a suckup.”
9. Images are key – offer hi-res images that are at least 300 dpi that show the product in an attractive context and also deep-etched. The best way to send your hi-res images is of course via a trackable Flaunter link!
10. Oftentimes media will jump on to Flaunter to browse the content library and start collecting images for their gift guides – make sure you put your brand where the media are looking!
Images: Gift Guide by Louisa Parry; Kelly Sikkema via unsplash, Marie Claire Gift Guide Dec 2017