This post is contributed by Margie Zable Fisher, president of Zable Fisher Public Relations, which specializes in e-commerce and product P.R. and publicity. Her company offers free publicity opportunities and tips here.
Recently, I conducted a webinar for ShipStation customers on the topic of Holiday Gift Guide publicity—summertime is when we begin pitching our clients for long-lead magazine fourth quarter Holiday Gift Guide coverage.
While I cover many subjects, certain pieces of information were deemed very valuable by many of the survey participants. Here is that information.
What is a Holiday Gift Guide Placement?
After pitching on behalf of clients for many years, and writing countless articles and offering webinars and presentations, I thought everyone knew what a Holiday Gift Guide placement was. Nope! This year I included the definition in my webinar, and it was well-received:
- Inclusion of your product in editorial coverage, such as a Holiday Gift Guide print or online feature or TV or radio segment, usually with an image of the product, a brief description, with a website URL and/or store where the item can be purchased
- Costs you nothing, other than the price of samples/shipping; additional cost might be hiring a P.R. firm
- Is unlike advertising, where you pay a specific price to receive a guaranteed place in the media
What Kind of Results Can I Expect?
While most people understand that a media placement during this time is likely to lead to sales, they always want specifics. What exactly can they expect, in terms of placements and sales, during a Holiday Gift Guide publicity campaign?
In this year’s webinar, I included information from my client and ShipStation user, Ballpark Blueprints. Ballpark Blueprints makes artwork (blueprints), mugs, and t-shirts featuring blueprints of various sports stadiums and courses. The owners participated in last year’s webinar and hired my company to do publicity. This is a niche product, and typical of many companies. Here are the fourth quarter 2015 publicity results I shared, with permission from the owners:
- Obtained media coverage in Vanity Fair, Family Circle, Midwest Living, Today.com, MensHealth.com, Gear Patrol, Cigar Aficionado, Design NJ, Golf Chicago, CA Home Design and more
- “Our expectations were exceeded in both the number and prominence of the placements we received. I don’t think we imagined getting into something like the Vanity Fair holiday gift guide.”
- “Our fourth quarter gross earnings were up more than 22% over 2014 Q4.”
- “Zable Fisher Public Relations also provided us with feedback from the media suggesting additional publicity opportunities if we had a more varied product line/price points. We were able to use that direct market feedback to expand and diversify our product line, which we hope will pay dividends during the 2016 holiday gift guide season, and which has already helped us gain placements in Q1 and Q2 2016.”
What are New Holiday Gift Guide Trends?
While many things stay the same, including how to make your product irresistible to the media, and what to include in your pitch, timing, sending your pitches to the right media outlet, following up and issues with images, there are a few trends that have been gaining in popularity. They include:
- Themed holiday gift guides. While many gift guides offer a general title, such as “50 gifts under $50,” inside you’ll see guides for specific gift recipients – men, women, kids, etc. Beyond that, we’re seeing uber-specific guides, such as “Gifts for Chocolate Lovers” or “Gifts for your BFF.” Without knowing what level of detail a media outlet will cover, you can share this type of information in your pitch. If you offer bacon with chocolate (yum!) and other bacon products for example, your pitch could include a section on what types of folks would love your items – and they might include bacon lovers, foodies and chocolate lovers.
- Discounts and deals. Who doesn’t love a great deal, right? But the amount of deals in holiday gift guide coverage has exploded. Be prepared to offer a special discount code for readers or viewers, and include that information in your pitch.
- Made in the USA. So many items are made outside of the U.S. Some gift guides are actually themed “Made in the USA.” Others include that information as a way of setting products apart. If your items are made in the USA, include that in your pitch.
This information will help you as you put together your Holiday Gift Guide publicity plan. Get started today and your efforts could lead to big holiday sales!