It feels incredibly odd to be talking about the importance of holiday to-do & media contact lists when I'm sitting on the porch in 80 degree weather wearing sunglasses to block out the glaring afternoon sun, but it's a fact: long lead magazines are right around the corner from holiday issues and that means you need to be beyond prepared by the time their quickly approaching deadlines get here.
First let's talk about the timing: as you know when you go to a newsstand the issue is always a month ahead of the true calendar, in other words if I were to visit look at all my subscriptions for this month (May) they will read "June". Such is the media calendar. What does this tell me? Holiday gift recommendations and guides will begin popping up in November, which in the "real world" is actually October! Now if long lead magazines tend to work 3-4 (some even 6) months ahead, those issues are coming up and the editors will soon be deciding on categories, and starting to think of cool products or holiday-related services they've come across in the recently. Sure some will wait to finally close it until the last minute, but no matter how you slice it, those magazines have to be at the printer by their close-date and if you want your product or story to be on their pages when it heads to the printer, there are mandatory steps you can be taking right now!
MANDATORY CHECK LIST:
1. Your product or service for holiday: be sure you are fully certain that whatever your holiday offerings will be, they will be available and on your website for holiday, and that you have samples and photos of them (in both high and low res) ready to go. You are not allowed to pitch until you do.
2. Your pitch: you should have a pre-created pitch that you can use as a script and an email ready to go and in document form before you pick up the phone to pitch an editor. That way you have a guide when you're speaking with them, and when they ask you for an email to follow up it's all laid out and ready to go - hesitation can ensure you lose your chance and connection with that editor.
3. An updated press release: Be sure you have an updated press release that covers your holiday offering whether they are a good or service. This does not have to be a lengthy project, but rather a brief release announcing (in an active voice) your brand's holiday story. Be sure you have clearly laid out contact information on the release as well.
4. An updated media kit, photos, and samples: As I said in #1, when the media is interested they will want your product's photos (or yours if you're an expert), a sample most likely (which you should always have returned to you unless you want to gift it or if it's make-up or something similar), and a media kit to accompany it. Your media kit should include at the very least a company backgrounder/your biography, a one-sheet if you are an expert (with topics you can discuss that are seasonal for holiday), past press, and photos and fact sheets. Be sure if you have a product that you include line sheets with pricing (in retail only) and if you have one, a look book.
5. A fully functioning website: if you are selling a product you must have a website that includes e-commerce to fully take advantage of press outreach, and to benefit from an editorial placement. If you are an expert it's also essential you have a professional website that invites people to connect and experience you, your tips, and your expertise. ***** I think it's also essential to every website that you have a newsletter easily located on the homepage that allows visitors to enter their email address for updates, promotions, etc. This ensures even if they don't buy this time, you can reach out with enticing offers in the future.
6. Holiday Media List: The last yes certainly not least important part of a successful holiday pitching equation is a fully updated and holiday-specific media contact list. This is where you will track your contact with the media (who you pitched, who has a sample) and should include their outlet, name, email, phone number, and outreach status at the very least. Note that just because you are in fashion or accessories, these editors may not be the correct people to reach out to for the holiday gift guide. Also note that the magazine's gift guides often have specific themes and price points. To get the most bang for your pitches it's essential that you reach out individually to each outlet you're interested in pitching ( and would be a good fit for) and find out who to pitch and what their theme is, as well as their deadline.
*If you are a Core member of Tin Shingle you can find some of this information via the editorial calendars, and we will do our best to bring you as much information on holiday outreach as possible.
Again - it may seem like it's spring but we're beginnign our holiday outreach next month - we see those july and august deadlines quickly approaching - by fall all the long lead issues will be closed!
That said, soak up the sun now but also start strategizing your holiday pr plans!