Ah, the holidays. It’s the most wonderful time of year, full of parties and reunions with loved ones. But it’s also a time that both media and publicists are incredibly busy pitching and writing holiday gift guides – this can make it overwhelming, exhausting, and frustrating – especially if you find a brand or product is not getting the placements you had hoped for.
So, before you take another step in pitching a brand or product for this season’s gift guides, make things easier on yourself by being as prepared as possible. Consider this post something of a checklist for everything to keep in mind when sending those holiday gift guide pitches.
Are you following instructions?
I think it’s hard to comprehend the number of responses every holiday gift guide (or any roundup, really), will get. If I am writing a guide to 10 great gifts for a starter kitchen, I’ll get thousands of pitches. That means the vast majority will not be included – but those who are cut immediately from the running are those that do not follow instructions.
In the average call-out for pitches in my newsletter, I’ll ask for deliverables such as the name of the product, links where sold, certain specs about the product, and a high-res image with appropriate credit info. Those pitches that do not include all the necessary information are eliminated from the running. So, if you want to make the final cut, help yourself out by giving me everything I’m asking for – by the deadline, and on the topic I’m requesting. (i.e., if I’m looking for boots for a boot roundup, don’t pitch me socks for the boot roundup in case I randomly decide to write a sidebar on socks – that’s not going to happen.)
Very often, these roundups will have specific qualifiers, such as the retailer, price range and specs. Be sure if you are pitching it, it fits all of those asks, and is currently available.
Are you pitching the right journalist?
Every single one of us has our own roster of beats and clients. Sure, we have overlap. But if you are pitching someone you know is a food journalist or a tech journalist, pitch them what you know they can cover. I have one outlet I have been writing for regularly for upwards of a decade. I’ve always covered food for that outlet. Yet I am often pitched strollers! Do your research and see what a journalist writes about and where they write it, and save yourself the disappointment of pitching them something simply don’t have the opportunity to place.
Consider your subject line very carefully.
Be strategic here. If your subject line says FOR YOUR GIFT GUIDE or PRODUCT TO CONSIDER, it tells me absolutely nothing.
Better subject line is along the lines of:
Starter Kitchen Gift Guide: Spice Mill for the Barbiecore Fan!
Or something along the lines. It tells me which guide you are pitching, what you are pitching, and even what trend it speaks to!
Take the clarity inside as well.
Just as we want a really precise and concise email subject, the content of the pitch should be similar.
Consider the inverted pyramid we were taught about in college journalism. What is the product? Who is the expert? Where did this happen/where is it sold? Go with simple bullet points even, sharing specs on the product, the price and outlets where it’s sold. Also, a link to an image. no attachments, please!
Remember the old adage about how a skirt should be long enough to cover everything important but short enough to keep things interesting? Keep this in mind when writing a holiday gift guide pitch.
Less is more.
I really don’t need or want to receive an email with a list of 20 URLs. That just stresses me out, does not help at all, and may even end up filtered into spam. Please NEVER do this.
Tell me what makes that product a good fit. What makes it different from every other air fryer or wide calf boot or lip gloss out there? If you just send me a list of URLs, I’m going to assume you are not invested in it enough to know what makes it special, or, it’s just not special. Both are going to work against your pitch.
Make sure the product is currently available.
You’d THINK this is obvious, I know. But every single day I click on the retail link for a product pitched and discover that it actually is discontinued, out of stock, or only has limited availability. If someone cannot order a product, why are you going through the trouble of pitching it? It can’t be in a gift guide if it is not a gift people can ultimately buy.
This is a big issue and it’s probably enough for its very own post. Please never send a huge gallery of 400 photos of your knife set in various lifestyle poses. Or your 400 different knives. No one has time to browse your lookbook or gallery. Send me a handful of clear product shots for the actual product you are pitching and no other, and make sure they are CLEARLY labeled as to what the photo is and share any credit information I need to keep in mind. Avoid any image titled “img0001” or “screencapture12” but rather “Pinkchefsknife–brand name” – You don’t want the wrong photo or wrong credit being used, right?
Think out of the box.
Everyone is going to pitch “gifts for her” or “gifts for him” – but think of things that everyone is not also thinking of. Like, gifts for the person who loves the royal family. Or gifts to upgrade the bar of someone who really likes pink. Be super specific, and you just may stand out.
Follow up – but do so with a light hand.
Yes, follow up. Of course. But understand everyone is getting about 1,000 emails a day right now and juggling a ton of deadlines. These past few weeks, I’ve been averaging 2-3 stories a day and more emails than I can count. So, I will answer if I need more information or if I have an answer. But if you don’t hear from me – that doesn’t mean a no, either. It just means I don’t have an answer quite yet.
One great way to follow up is with purpose. Try to add some value to the pitch you originally sent. Is there a special deal or promotion now? Is it now available in a special gingerbread flavor for Christmas? Let me know. Or share some images (with a link!). ADD something to your pitch, don’t just respond back to the original thread. Give me additional reasons why you may be a fit.
And then be patient.
This is a long game. If you don’t end up in a holiday gift guide, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduation, and a million evergreen product roundups are right around the bend…the door is never closed.
This post is part of Durée & Company’s ongoing Guest Blog series, The #DynamoDigest, where we have tapped select journalists and influencers whose work we admire and respect. In this series, top tips and best practices are shared across a variety of topics impacting the public relations industry today.
By Aly Walansky, contributor to Today.com, Forbes.com, Food & Wine, Business Insider, Food Network, Bravo, Reader’s Digest, Men’s Health, Men’s Journal, Goalcast, YourTango, POPSUGAR, Spy.com and more. Subscribe to Aly’s Substack newsletter here.
About Durée & Company
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