5 Tips For Getting Your Products Into Holiday Gift Guides
Photo Source: Zastavki
Oh, the mighty Holiday Gift Guide! For many of us in the pet industry, a spot on a national gift guide is as important as a star atop the Christmas tree. Every major publication compiles a list of their absolute must-haves, and getting your product featured can be a total game changer. Regardless if you are reaching for “Oprah’s Favorite Things” or hoping to get your name out there on industry specific lists, I have compiled a cheat-sheet with five tips on how to get your product to the top of everyone’s wish list.
1. Give editors a reason to love your product.
The first step to getting an editor to consider your product is to make them realize how amazing it is in the first place. Of course, you have the best product, but I assure you that they’ve heard that, one too many times. Try focusing on what makes the product so amazing to you and try to convey that in your initial pitch. Did you design your revolutionary line of cat condos after rescuing a cat that struggled with anxiety? Is your company’s dog food packed with certain natural ingredients after you found your dog undernourished with his previous kibble? Those are the kinds of pitches that get editors thinking about their own pet at home—why they love a product and why they need a product.
2. Understand writers’ deadlines.
As crazy as it sounds, most national publications work anywhere from three to six months in advance, which means PR and media professionals start pitching for Holiday Gift Guides during summer. So, it is important to always consider a writer’s timeline before you send them story ideas if you want to make an impact.
Don’t expect to pitch your product in November and see it in the January issue of a magazine, but online/TV outlets are a different story. Most online or TV Holiday Gift Guides are still narrowing down their final list in the weeks leading up to publishing/airing in early December.
3. Quality over quantity is important.
Before you pitch, do your research. I can’t stress enough how crucial it is to understand a media outlet’s audience before pitching its editor. The last thing you want is for a writer to be annoyed because you pitched them a product that is light years away from the focus of their outlet. Try narrowing down your ideal media outlets and then finding the perfect writer at each outlet to pitch. That way, you aren’t just aimlessly sending pitches to writers who don’t cover your industry. In doing research for editors to pitch, look at previous gift guides to see what they’ve included in the past, and assume that they’ll probably do a version of that again—this might be the best way to secure coverage.
4. Be prepared to send samples at the drop of a hat.
So, your pitch worked and they want a sample? Congrats, you are halfway there! During Gift Guide pitching season, be ready to send out A LOT of product samples because most editors require a sample before they even consider your product. Make sure you put in more time than usual when sending the media samples. Trust me, a personalized handwritten note can really make a difference. Also, be prepared to overnight samples or provide hi-resolution images at the editor’s request. Gift Guide season is hectic for all parties involved, so your prompt assistance is beneficial in the end.
5. Don’t give up…try again next year.
Holiday Gift Guides are extremely competitive, on every level. Sometimes, even after doing everything right, the editor decides to go in another direction. Even if an editor tells you they’ll publish your product in the their Gift Guide, as I always say, “It’s not confirmed until you see it in print.” There’s been too many times to count that a product was supposed to be featured, but didn’t make the cut at the last minute.
If you don’t make a gift guide, don’t let it discourage you. The best coverage often comes after months of following up and catching that writer or editor at the right time. Use this as an opportunity to stay in touch, and catch them early next year.
When it comes down to it, every missed opportunity is a way to grow and be better the next year.
Kerry Sutherland is the Founder and CEO of K. Sutherland PR, a boutique public relations, social media and branding agency specializing in the pet industry. Contact Kerry directly at Kerry@ksutherlandpr.com, or learn more about the agency online at www.ksutherlandpr.com.