This post was contributed by Margie Zable Fisher, president of Zable Fisher Public Relations, which specializes in ecommerce and product P.R. and publicity. Her company offers free publicity opportunities and tips here.
If you sell products, you’re probably familiar with the value of getting publicity. Some of you may even have been the recipient of thousands of dollars of sales, through product features in magazines, online, and on TV.
But did you know that now’s the time to get publicity for the fourth quarter?
It’s 85 Degrees Out. Why Are You Talking About Fourth Quarter Publicity?
The answer’s simple: top magazines accept product submissions for fourth quarter holiday gift guides well before the holidays. And when they reach their deadlines, they’re no longer open to submissions.
You might be wondering – just what are holiday gift guides?
They’re those product roundups you see everywhere in the media during the fourth quarter, with recommendations for great gifts to buy. Unlike advertising, these features are considered editorial, which means they’re especially valuable in these ways:
- A third-party (the media) is endorsing products as holiday gifts, making the information more credible than an ad.
- Publicity placements are free. (The exception is P.R. firm fees, unless you pitch the media yourself. Either way, the cost is much less than advertising.)
Okay, Got It. Now What?
If you’re ready to get holiday gift guide publicity, you should know the competition is fierce. Because thousands of companies are vying for publicity — some with major brand recognition. That’s why you’ll need some strategies to position your products in the best possible light for maximum media coverage.
Check out these examples of holiday gift guide placements.
Functional to Giftable
Magazines want eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing items for gift guide spreads. So products that really pop will stand out. Fun colors, funky shapes, and other aspects that make your product unique can turn your products from functional to giftable.
Watches are a fairly practical gift. But Tocs added a fun twist by selling watches in vibrant colors and fun shapes. This turned a practical item into a must-have accessory.
And it resulted in our client’s placement in O, the Oprah Magazine’s December Oprah’s Favorite Things feature.
You may want to look at what colors are trending and add them to your product line for the holidays. Another option is to add limited edition holiday-themed designs.
Typical to Unique
A blanket doesn’t sound like anything special. But Ballpark Blueprints turned a plain item into a one of a kind gift. Shoppers can customize blankets, T-shirts, mugs, and other items with a blueprint design of a ballpark, sports arena, or golf course. The customizable aspect of the gift makes it more personal and sentimental than other sports memorabilia.
The media placement above is a gift guide for the elderly, but retailers can pitch this product to a variety of publications. We also gained holiday gift guide placements for Ballpark Blueprints on The Today Show, Vanity Fair, Men’s Health, and Midwest Living.
When pitching your product to media outlets, consider not only who uses your products but also who would buy them as gifts. While Ballpark Blueprints items appeal mostly to men, they can be pitched to women’s publications for “Gifts for Him” gift guides.
Including a target audience in the email subject line of your pitch can help editors find a place for your product. For example, Ballpark Blueprints can be (and was) pitched as a must-have for sports enthusiasts as well as a gift for the man in your life.
So-so to Wow
To get holiday gift guide placements and increase fourth-quarter sales, your product has to be different and memorable. That doesn’t mean you have to be selling something that has never existed until now. Even ordinary objects can become extraordinary by transforming them into something unique.
Snow globes are a common holiday gift. But the snow globes CoolSnowGlobes sells are upscale, unique, and beautiful pieces of art, giving it that needed wow factor. The placement below in Simply the Best is a set of four mini snow globes from CoolSnowGlobes.
Selling gifts in sets is another way to make your product more special and giftable.
Last-minute to Thoughtful
The holiday season can be a hectic and stressful shopping time. As a result, shoppers may forget to buy for loved ones on their list. Or they may just not be able to figure out what to buy someone. That’s why there are lists dedicated to last minute, quick and convenient gifts.
A product that’s popular for last-minute gift guides is monthly subscription boxes. One of the major benefits of monthly subscription boxes is they don’t seem like last-minute gifts. Even if you sign your friend up for a subscription the day before the party, they’ll never find out since they won’t receive their first shipment until January.
It’s also unexpected and different from conventional gifts. Instead of giving a loved one a gift they receive on one day, they’ll receive treats from you for several months in a row.
Gift box subscriptions are also great for the friend who’s difficult to shop for. Furthermore, they’re a good fit for gift guide lists that target a specific niche.
SinglesSwag, the example below, is a monthly gift box for single women. It includes items such as beauty products, organic snacks, fashion accessories, and more.
PopSugar featured it on their “8 Last-Minute Gift Boxes to Send Your Single BFF For the Holidays.”
All images of your products you send to editors should be high quality, visually appealing, and showcase your product well. If you’re pitching a subscription box you’ll want to pay extra attention to visuals. The image should not only include the box itself but also the contents of the box in a way that indicates what the subscription offers.
Pretty Good to the Price Is Right
Many gift guides organize products by price point. You’ll want to make sure your product falls under a good price range for you to qualify. You can make your products more giftable and less expensive by offering holiday gift sets/baskets. You could also offer special holiday discounts and promotions.
There are gift guides for a variety of price ranges, expensive to cheap. But pitching products that are $25 and under can give you an advantage since these gifts are more difficult for editors to find.
The Star Wars Stormtrooper mug by Calendars.com shown below was on a list for gifts under $25.
It’s great for gift guides because not only is it inexpensive, but it also turns a boring item into something quirky and fun.
To get in a holiday gift guide, your product doesn’t need to be big or fancy. Editors are always looking for stocking stuffers. Stocking stuffers should be inexpensive, ideally under $25 or $10, depending on the gift guide. So keep this in mind when pitching.
Editors tend to struggle to find low-priced items, especially in the $10 and under range. Thus, including them in your pitches can increase your chances of obtaining holiday gift guide placements.
Walking Dead playing cards by Calendars.com, as featured in US Weekly, is the perfect stocking stuffer because it’s small, fun, and only $4.
This post provided you with some ideas to make your products exciting to holiday gift guide editors. Creating media pitches with strong subject lines showcasing a target audience, as well as making sure your price points and products are perfect for coverage, will go a long way to maximizing your holiday gift guide placements. Here’s hoping your successful publicity efforts lead to your best fourth quarter ever!