The holiday season is often the busiest time for many businesses. While there are a lot of ways for businesses to stand out with their marketing, getting included in gift guides can create a bigger push for sales. It’s also great for general visibility among your target audience.
So how do you get your product included in holiday gift guides? Here is everything you need to know.
#1: Get to know your audience
It should always start out with who your customer is. But when it comes to pitching media or creators, you need to look at who THEIR audience is. Your audiences should match up so your product/service will resonate with their readers/followers. Most outlets and creators that are worth working with won’t include products and services that aren’t a good fit. So if you just blanket pitch everyone, you’re wasting your time and theirs.
Once you have created your pitch list, you also need to decide what you want from them. What’s the ask? What are your overall goals for the campaign? Figuring this out early on can help you shape your campaign so it’s more successful.
#2: Get your product and visuals ready
You need to make sure you have everything together BEFORE you start pitching. This way, if your contacts ask for a sample or images, you can send them over right away. Sometimes you may find someone on a tight deadline and if they have to wait for photos, you could miss out on the opportunity. You should have a handful of high-resolution images to choose from. It’s standard practice to have both product shots on a white background as well as lifestyle shots. Not every outlet is looking for the same thing.
In terms of product samples to send out, realize that most will not be returned to you. You should have packaging and your processes ready to go so you can pop a package in the mail on a quick turn around. For holiday gift guides it can also be great to get a little fancy with your packaging so opening the product is an experience in itself. Have a peek at this blog on PR packages to get some ideas!
#3: Get your messaging ready
One key to a great campaign is consistency, so having those key messages ready to go is super important. Remember to keep it simple. You don’t necessarily want to dictate what a journalist or creator says about your brand and product, but you should give them a few important things to include. Make sure you include the following:
- Product description
- retail price point
- Where can the item be purchased (online and in store)?
- Product dimensions
- Sizing, colours, etc
#4: Build relationships
Your campaign should be built on strong relationships. Any work you do with an outlet should be for mutually beneficial outcomes. This is why it’s so important to identify and reach out to key contacts after you have identified the right target audience(s). In order to communicate effectively you need to ensure you are creating a compelling pitch and story angle as well as personalizing your pitches so they are tailored to each outlet/journalist. Personalization is key for any relationship to build and grow.
#5: Timing and Planning
While there are some gift guide media that will work on short turn around times, others, like magazines will need 4 – 6 months lead time. Even now, I am getting requests for gift guide pitches from media and content creators and it’s September. So when we say it’s not too early to start your holiday marketing, we definitely mean it’s not too early.
Build your timeline based on your target journalists and creators and then make sure you prepare for any follow ups and potential media inquiries. Setting up and mailing out your product will take time and you want to ensure that things happen quickly once a request has been made.
#6 Common Challenges
These types of campaigns aren’t without their challenges. Here are a few common ones to look out for:
- Rejection and setbacks: You might love your product, but that doesn’t mean every outlet will say yes. In fact, things may just not go as you hoped. It’s important that you don’t take it personally. You could ask why they aren’t interested. Regardless it’s important not to dwell on it and just move on.
- Adjusting strategies based on feedback and results: What worked? What didn’t? Your campaign won’t become successful overnight. Sometimes you need to take the feedback you get and adjust your pitch and your approach.
- Stay positive, stay consistent: Through setbacks and the rejections, you need to maintain consistency in your strategy. This can be challenging.
Are you planning on doing a gift guide campaign this year?
Candace Huntly is the Founder at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in media relations, influencer marketing, organic community engagement, content, and adapting strategies for any sized business – large or small. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.
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A version of this article was originally posted to the SongBird Marketing Communications blog.