Gift Guide Pitching: Christmas in October (And September and August and July…)

Christmas in July is more than a cute saying. In the communications and PR world, planning and pitching for the holidays begins in the early summer.  Gift guide pitching is a key tactic for consumer brands – and not just for those offering products as experiences and services have become more popular gifts in recent years.

Pitching early is key, and here are the main ways to reach influencers and media with what matters:

  • If you’re late in the game, don’t bother with long lead: Know who writes for the print issue of the publication and who writes for online. Long lead pitching happens as early as July for gift guides. Most glossies have already put their holiday print issue to bed by September, so focus your outreach on online contacts.  Do your research and see who wrote the guide last year – they’ll be the perfect first person to reach out to.
  • Give them the kitchen sink Day 1: Though each reporter’s preferences are unique, certain elements of your pitch should remain constant throughout contacts. In your initial outreach, be sure to send an image as well as any relevant links.  If your client is comfortable, offer samples.  A reporter is much more likely to include your product if they can say they tried it and found it useful themselves.
  • Know your angle, but try many: As PR professionals, it’s easy to get stuck in the rut of pitching the same people over and over again because they cover your client’s beat. Kitchen products go to food editors, exercise gear to health or fashion correspondents.  Knowing who your go-to’s should be is important, but don’t be afraid to branch out.  If the product is relatively inexpensive, try a reporter who covers saving.  It may be perfect for a 50 under $50 roundup.  Many outlets publish several different types of gift guides, so if you can make it fit, send the pitch.
  • Don’t stop until it’s the big day: Though online outreach begins in October, that doesn’t mean it slows down any time soon. Most publications start seeding holiday content in November, but gift guides continue issuing until Christmas Day, and there are even a few after the fact (New Year, New You, anyone?).  Even if the odds are slim, keep trying until you get feedback that all gift guides have closed for the year.

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