Well it's that time of year again, Valentine's Day.....WHAT ?!? You're probably thinking I've finally lost my mind because if you're reading this in "real time" it's only (barely) the second week of January....How could we be talking about Valentine's Day when we just finished taking down our Christmas tree?
The fact of the matter is, media has already begun planning their short lead Valentine's Day articles, segments and gift guides. (Note to your pr campaign: long lead stories in places like monthly magazines closed in fall 2009, because these publications work 3-6 months in advance). Sure short lead outlets like blogs, television, newspapers and weekly magazines work quickly and turn over stories on a daily basis, but when they know something big like a holiday or annual event is coming, they're sure to prepare ahead of time. They also want to be sure they have the best gift guides, experts, segments and topics squared away and available to us (the viewing/listening/reading public) prior to the holiday so that they can help us shop, prepare and get ready ahead of time.
Because this holiday is only about a month away, they're well under way with Valentine's Day preparation in most short lead outlets. This means as a small business or entrepreneur you need to be well under way with your outreach and Valentine's Day offerings asap. Remember - the early birds get the worms!
With that in mind find tips for pitching products, services and experts, as well as pitching ideas and what you need to do to prepare....so get ready to take some notes and do some outreach!
What you need before you pitch your Valentine's Day offerings:
Before reaching out to the press be sure you are prepared. You can't send a pitch if you aren't ready to go on the air with all relevant components at that moment. Sure you'll probably have advnance warning but if the producers or editors ask for them, you must have readily available:
* Images of products you are offering in high and low resolution
* Media Kit
* Short description of your product
* Quick pre-written pitch about your good, service or yourself. Keep it short, relevant and include bullets to separate different ideas -they are easier on the eye
* Quick tip sheet if you are an expert/service which includes tips on the holiday you can share (these can easily be lifted into blog or print articles)
* Where to buy - Be sure you have a simple and easy way for readers/viewers/listeners to connect and purchase your good or service
* Reel & headshot if you yourself want to be on air or in print
How to pitch products:
There are two ways you're going to be pitching products for Valentine's Day for the most part:
a) Sending your product/products directly to an editor or producer for coverage. This is a straight product pitch which will most likely go to websites, blogs, newspapers and weekly magazines (TV will more than likely require a segment, which we discuss below). Steps include:
* Create a brief Valentine's Day elevator pitch about your product. Include a quick introduction regarding you, your company, your product, and why it is a great gift for Valentine's Day for their viewers/readers/listeners. Even if you use the same basic pitch, make sure you craft to specifically address that outlet and their audience.
* This pitch should how how your product is unique, briefly mention the unique selling points, include the price, where to buy, a link to where it's found on your website, and a brief thank you at the end as well as a mention that you'd love to share more information, images and can provide samples.
* Do not attach anything unless you know the contact already. Sending attachments without permission is a big pitching no-no.
* Send this customized pitch to every short lead outlet you picture your product in - from Us Weekly to USA Today to the New York Times....just be sure you only send it to media who you truly can picture your product or story in. Nothing hurts media relationships more than unnecessary or irrelevant pitches, so be honest with yourself about your pitch and whether or not the outlet is going to be interested in it.
If you'd like to pitch by phone first, be sure you use this pitch as a script to guide you - this will prevent any moment of pitching amnesia when you're on the phone.
* After pitching give the outlet at least a week before you follow up - they are busy and many have cut staff due to the recession so they're already overworked. They also may be keeping you on file as they flesh out their holiday stories so patience is key here. Record each pitch as you make it and then move on. If you haven't heard in a week in a half to two weeks, follow up but include new information or a new spin on your old pitch in the follow up so you aren't simply calling to ask "did you get my pitch". Maybe this would be a good time to see if they'd like a sample, etc.
b) If you are hoping to get your product on television the rules are a bit different. Producers don't want to have 2 minutes of air time turn into a commerical for your brand, and for that reason most holiday segments include multiple product features. To accomplish this:
* Create segments with multiple brands and products - not just your own. As an entrepreneur you are bound to know countless other companies who you could partner with to create a full Valentine's Day segment. If not - simply hit up HARO, the Tin Shingle Google Group, or email us and we'll include your query in our PR Leads. Whether you create "Move over candy hearts, here are 5 must-have foods for love", "Valentine's Day Gifts for under 100.00", "DIY Valentine's Day Gifts", "Valentine's Day Finds for Kids" or "Must-have Jewelry by Los Angeles Designers" these are useful because:
- they aren't just your product being featured which makes them more usable on television
- you have already created an entire segment for the producer saving them time and research and phone calls
Be sure you create a bulletted list when you send this and include each product's price, website and a brief description of it. Do not send attachments until they are requested.
* Don't forget to keep your outreach focused on sharing your brand with magazines, websites and other top shopping or product trendsetters or guides. Often television stations will bring in experts on a regular basis to do these segments for them, and if you get to know these experts and editors, and they get to know your brand, your chances of being taken on the show with them increase. For example, member Michelle Madhok of Shefinds.com often does holiday shopping segments. The more she gets to know your brand or product, the more likely she will think of it when a new segment opportunity comes up. She may also send out a query looking for a specific type of product, and if she knows about you there's a good chance your name will be on the list.
At both Red Branch PR and Tin Shingle we pitch the shopping experts, stylists and regular shopping and holiday contributors nearly as much as we pitch the traditional media outlets. How do we figure out who these people are? By getting to know the outlets and segments we want to land placements in or on! That is part of your job too- knowing the outlets you want to be in!
How to Pitch Experts & Services:
Another great way to get visibility during Valentine's Day is to share your company via your expert status, tip sheets or service segments. Here's how you can get that going as well:
* Create television segments around your expertise with a Valentine's Day Twist, such as:
- DIY Date Night at Home (great for cocktail ideas, recipes, decorating tips, gift ideas etc)
- Valentine's Day Party Decorating Tips
- Love & Relationship Advice from experts
- Love Your Body & Your Heart - tips from health & wellness experts
- Valentine's Day Hair or Make-Up Tips
- How to Look Fabulous on your Valentine's Day Date
- How to Write the Perfect Valentine's Day Card - a great idea for writers!
* Create tip sheets that can easily be lifted into newspapers, websites and blogs. Everyone loves a good tip sheet whether they enjoy them for informative information, a preview for what you can do for a possible segment or filler in a print or online outlet. Every expert or company that provides a relevant service at this time of year should have a few tip sheets that they can offer to the media this season. This could easily turn into a hit online or a segment created around the tip sheets on television. Need some suggestions? How about:
- Top 10 Free Dates in NYC for Valentine's Day
- Love Expert on 10 Ways you can be sure your love will last past Valentine's Day
- How to keep the romance alive during stressful times
- The History of Valentine's Day - 5 traditions viewers may be unaware of
- Top Deals on the Web this Valentine's Day
- How to turn your home into a romantic weekend getaway
and so forth.....Just figure out what you could share, make sure it is customized to the outlet and holiday, craft it and edit it, and you're ready for outreach!
Hopefully these suggestions got your creative juices flowing and you're beginning to think about what you have to offer. Think big: find partners to create segments with, do tip sheets AND editorial pitches, start reaching out to outlets you envision yourself in! Just don't waste any more time!
Happy pre-Valentine's Day!