Journalists always know the holidays are upon them when they begin to receive pitches geared towards holiday-themed gift guides and such. Every year the holiday season seems to extend itself, so if you work in the public relations industry it’s best to start circulating your holiday-related pitches early in order to get the jump on the competition. The following tips should help public relations pros make the most of the hectic months before the holidays finally arrive.
Best Way to Get the Pitch Started
If you’re pitching a product, almost every media outlet does some sort of holiday gift guide. Local morning TV news shows love to roll out segments on “hot holiday gifts.” More recently there’s been a trend highlighting obscure gift ideas and high-priced items.
Email pitches should be simple asking if the journalist in question is doing any holiday/gift-related stories. If so, would they mind receiving some product information or a demo?
Don’t wait until it’s too late to get into most magazines, though. Big titles tend to start working on holiday-related features over the summer; more importantly, that’s when they’ve started to book ad spaces. (Though I don’t promote the practice, buying an advertisement is always an “in” when it comes to getting some publicity.)
Remember that most holiday/gift-related stories concentrate on trends or certain topics–gadgets, gifts for mom, etc.–so you’re going to have to share the spotlight with your competitors and their products.
Every year there are trends and hot holiday gift ideas. Remember the Cabbage Patch Kids craze? But there are some perennial hot topics you can always exploit.
Gift Cards: Gift cards–the 21st-century’s plastic gift certificates–are increasingly becoming the gift of choice for many. If your company offers gift cards, try pitching a general story about the topic–“gift cards take the pressure off both the gift giver and the gift getter”–and use non-competitors as your examples.
Services: Getting a physical gift is great, but whether it’s a day at a spa, a house-cleaning from a maid service, laser eye surgery, or dog poo removal, everyone loves a great service. Try pitching a story about how service-based gifts help consumers avoid the embarrassment of a returned gift.
Last-Minute Gifts: As long as there are lazy or forgetful people, there will always be stories about last-minute gifts. If your company is offering last-minute shipping or gift certificates that can be bought and redeemed online, try pitching a general story about these services.
Convenience: Our lives are so hectic that even thinking of spending a Saturday at the local shopping mall brings tears. If your company offers online or catalog shopping, push the convenience factor. Shopping online and through catalogs also cuts back on taxes, especially if there’s free shipping involved, two more angles to consider in your pitch.
Gadgets: Consumer electronics are always on everyone’s list. Pitch those MP3 players and high-definition TVs, but be ready to send out a demo model.
Food: We all eat. We’ll continue to eat. Food- and drink-related gifts are very popular. Every year I get some nice bottles of Scotch and a fruit basket or two. Definitely good for corporate gift giving stories. Pitch the fact that food-related gifts involve a little personal touch. In some cases, they’re even healthy.
Press Releases and More
Now is also a good time to put out a press release. One nice things is that journalists are also consumers, so they’re looking for gift ideas as well. Press releases before the holidays will get attention from these journalist consumers. Just make sure your press release gives a retail price.
You should also be preparing your holiday card list. Sending out actual gifts to journalists is expensive and there are ethical rules governing what a journalist can accept as a gift. A nice card with a personal thanks to a helpful journalist is the best way to express your appreciation. If you’re having a holiday party, suggest the journalist stop by for a drink or a cookie. Chances are they won’t, but it’s the thought that counts. And just in case any journalists do happen to stop by, make sure the staff knows they may be coming and to keep their tongues in check.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.