Each year, the clock for getting out holiday-related press releases starts ticking earlier. Recent holiday seasons have proven to be ultra-competitive because of genuine fears that consumers would not be spending money like they had in the past. These fears push purchases back, causing retailers to discount more heavily in an effort to reduce inventories. So when it comes to holiday planning, it’s imperative that manufacturers and service providers push the value element of their products when doing public relations.
Many companies shy away from this, which is a mistake. Value doesn’t mean that a product is cheaply made; it just means that the product is cheaper than what a competitor offers, or that the product offers a compelling value for the price. Value does not just come in the form of a physical product. Services can also offer value. While placing a service-oriented product in a holiday gift guide is sometimes difficult, it can be done.
A few years back, one of my company’s investment newsletters found its way into a holiday gift guide. We had offered our subscribers holiday gift subscriptions for friends and family, and I decided to pitch our newsletter as a holiday gift idea. We squeaked into a major magazine — had we put out press releases earlier, we may have scored more publicity — which promoted our product under the headline “A Gift That Can Also Make You Money.”
While print publications have historically helped move holiday products, the online world has quickly become a go-to for holiday shoppers. Companies such as Yahoo!, AOL, MSN and CNET all publish well-trafficked online holiday gift guides. Typically they launch these micro-sites a few weeks before Thanksgiving, meaning that editors at these properties are already hard at work putting their holiday gift guides in order in September or earlier. The good news is that unlike print gift guides, their online brethren can be updated regularly.
Not many blogs run full-blown holiday gift guides, but reaching out to bloggers should be part of your holiday gift guide strategy. Word-of-mouth marketing has helped land breaks for thousands of products, and bloggers are today’s frontline when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. Target bloggers with whom you already have a relationship or those covering your industry. If you send product samples, treat bloggers as they were journalists and don’t just try to grease them with free products.
One of the best ways to get into a holiday gift guide is to create one yourself. I’m not saying that you should go out and print one. Instead, pitch holiday gift guide stories around your product.
One of the pitches I used for our newsletter was to suggest to journalists that they write a story about what type of subscription services a person could give as a gift to another. I went so far as to break it down by subject/demographic. You, of course, want to keep your competitors out of your gift guide pitch, but by offering up an idea that’s not just tethered to your product, you may score some serious points with journalists.
Consumers may not be thinking about holiday shopping in the early fall, but media outlets will be. The window closes fast if you want to be included in holiday gift guides, so get your press releases on the newswire and your press kits in the mail come back-to-school time.
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from 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/.