How to Pitch to Holiday Gift-Guide Editors Like a PR Rock Star

by : 

Megy Karydes

September 12, 2016
Marketing Mondays - How to Pitch to Holiday Gift-Guide Editors Like a PR Rock Star

It’s holiday gift-guide season, and many long-lead magazines are already ramping up their gift-guide coverage. Some local and regional monthly magazines might still be seeking recommendations from independent retailers, but I’d focus on short-lead outlets such as weekly newspapers, television, radio, podcasts, and websites.

Retailers can increase their success rate for securing media coverage any time of the year by developing a relationship with reporters and bloggers throughout the year. For long-lead magazines, it’s ideal to pitch your products 3-6 months in advance of the publication date. For short leads, depending on the outlet (print vs broadcast), it’s usually about a month out for holiday gift guides.

As with most emails, two things stand out to increase your open rate:

  1. You have the correct email address (you don’t want to send your email to the publisher, for example). Take the time to find out who is handling the holiday gift guide(s), and while you’re making a call or sending an email, ask if they have a certain theme so you can tailor your content to what they’re already looking for.
  2. You have a relevant and informative subject line. Be as specific as you can with your subject line. Use “Great Gifts Under $100 for Your Holiday Gift Guide” rather than “XYZ Company Is the Exclusive Carrier of New Men’s Line of Skin Care Products for the Holidays.”

Once your email is open, don’t disappoint with long paragraphs of content and an attachment. Most people still won’t open attachments (and with free services like Dropbox, you can send a link to your hi-res jpg image so you don’t need to send large attachments).

Your email should be short and concise. Share the details of your product recommendations in paragraphs of 2-3 sentences (bullets are even better). Make sure to include who your gifts are best suited for (kids under 10, moms, teachers, etc.), what’s so special about your products, where they can be purchased, the retail prices, and a link to your website. That’s it.

Editors skim emails, and yours might only get 10 seconds before an editor decides she wants to either include your product, needs more information, or wants a sample sent to her.

A lot of work goes into preparing holiday gift guides, and often magazines will assign a specific editor to lead the work on the holiday gift guide as a solo project or with the help of various editors. Knowing who’s in charge increases your chances of getting covered.

While print is still very much valued, don’t dismiss online holiday gift-guide bloggers and vloggers. They’re constantly searching for new things to share with their readers and viewers. Are there particular blogs your customers like to read or vloggers your customers like to watch? Ask them on sites like Facebook and then research those outlets to see if they’re a fit for you. If they are, reach out and let them know a customer sent them your way, or ask if they’d be interested in receiving recommendations for a holiday gift guide.

Once the holidays are over, make sure to update your media list so you’ll have a solid working list of media to reach out to regularly throughout 2017 and during the busy holiday seasons.

Megy Karydes helps small businesses harness their marketing power. She’s also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic’s CityLab, Midwest Living magazine and Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at