As we barrel into the year’s busiest shopping time, brands are gunning for a coveted spot on holiday wish lists. Pitching the right way to the right publications is critical if you want to secure your place on this year’s list.
We all want to feel confident in the products we’re buying, especially when it’s a gift meant to reflect our intentions. We wouldn’t want to send our top client a clunky gadget that gets tossed in the trash. If you’re anything like me, I want my gifts to be unique and lasting, so much so that they become a staple item in the recipient’s life. I’ve personally relied on gift guides for inspiration and recommendations for years because I’m confident that the products have been tested and evaluated by the trusted editors of my favorite publications. Here’s some tips for how to land on all the gift guides that matter.
Determine which publications reach your target audience
Make a list of all the publications and media outlets your targeted market reads, listens to and trusts. You’ll want to do a little research to determine which editorial contact would be best to pitch. Look for editors who published lists in the previous years or editors who already write about your industry. Andrew Zaczkiewicz, the executive editor at WWD, confirms: “Make sure you pitch the right editor and see if there are any themes or trends. If there are no themes/trends, suggest some that align with your product.”
For example, if you’re trying to promote a product that resonates with runners, Bloombergprobably won’t be the right fit, but Runner’s World or Athletics Weekly could be very promising. If you don’t impress the right editors or reach the right consumers, all your efforts will go unrewarded.
Transform your pitch into a narrative
Connecting your product to people in a more profound way is a great way to grab editors’ interest. Neha Tandon, a lifestyle editor for Odysseyand a freelance reporter for POPSUGARand Business Insider, notes one pitch that immediately piqued her interest because it spoke not only to her publication’s demographic, but also to positively impacting a currently tumultuous sociopolitical climate.
“I recently received a pitch from a [beauty brand], but they were pitching to me about how they are donating 20,000 hours of mental health resources to people of color this year,” Tandon says. “So I was like, that’s a great story. The fact that there is a beauty brand that’s using their power and their influence to do something good. Those are the best pitches.”
Purchasing patterns will be different this year
Given the unprecedented social, economic, and political landscape of this past year, it’s not a stretch to anticipate that people’s purchasing patterns will be affected.
Chris Rooney, editor at POPSUGAR explains, “I think we can expect more thoughtful gift-giving this year to compensate for not being able to spend as much time together physically. Social distancing makes gathering for the holidays tricky, so gifts that make a higher impact could remedy that.”
In a time of extended seclusion, feeling heard, being healthy, and remaining connected to others is imperative to people’s wellness, and they will respond to products that speak to these needs.
Rooney makes the point that gifts touching upon this kind of meaningful care will be highly sought after. “We’re talking more about well-being in a holistic sense this year,” he says. “So I expect a greater focus on health-conscious gifts: pay-for-play fitness and wellness app subscriptions; feel-good gifts like designer flower arrangements; gym equipment we haven’t seen at home typically, like foam rollers; and spa-like gifts like slow-burn candles and waffle robes.”
People are also going to connect to gifts promoting healing and serenity with sustained value. “I look for products with a long shelf life: leveled-up essentials you can use every day, or more-niche gifts that are aspirational: a new yoga practice, a new love of cooking, a better-dressed night out,” Rooney claims. “Giving gifts that promote someone’s goals is an easy way to show you listen to and care about their needs.”
People want to perpetuate something good in the lives of those they care about most. This year especially, it’s not so much about the act of giving, but more about the sincerity and thoughtfulness of the gift.
Once you have an idea of what publications and trends to focus on, develop a concise pitch that encapsulates what your product and company are about while appealing to the editors and media professionals compiling the holiday gift guides and lists.
Rooney advises, “It’s easy to throw the phonebook, but it’s hard to be concise. Keep it short and offer up additional information upon an editor’s interest. Don’t be shy! Just do your homework first.”
Pitching can be challenging, but it gives your company the opportunity to trim away the fluff and consolidate what your product and brand are trying to accomplish.
Create a genuine connection with editors
You can also appeal to the editors on a personal level by investigating who they are and what they like. Check out their social accounts. See what inspires them. When pitching, use that intel to connect with them genuinely.
For instance, say you’ve created a product for indoor plant aficionados and noticed an editor you follow is constantly tending to an ever-growing orchid collection. When pitching, try to incorporate this connection with something like: “I saw that you are quite the plant-lover on Instagram — your indoor garden is gorgeous, especially those orchids! I’m a fellow plant lover myself, and it was through developing my green thumb that inspired me to create a product that helps others to begin planting.”
Here you have the attention of someone who understands the draw your product could have. You’re appealing to the other person in a personal and authentic way, making your interaction more meaningful and memorable.
A company’s philosophy and ability to evolve with the times can also have a strong influence on how editors perceive them. For Anna Maria Giano, editor at Vogue Italy, she wants to be inspired. “At the moment, what I’m looking for most is a brand that can surprise me,” she explains. “The keywords are sustainability, inclusiveness, and the desire to dare.”
The world feels ever-divided, so companies that seek to mend the ailments of today — diminished environment, marginalized identities — through transparent means, will gain traction with editors, while companies that bend to the will of business-as-usual won’t. “Fashion is not just clothes, it is the reflection of our way of life. I am looking for someone to introduce me to the dream of a better tomorrow,” Giano says.
Building a following and anticipating an editor’s vision is one feat, but keeping it is a long game best played through constant and rigorous planning, thought, and research.
Editors like Giano are not just hungry for products that impact the present, but for companies that demand meaningful, positive change for the future.
Don’t wait to reach out
Editors are often operating with long lead times for holiday features, and they have a lot riding on what they choose to showcase.
“Don’t wait for the holidays to make yourself known,” Giano encourages. “I want to fully understand a brand, get to know its philosophy and its modus operandi, as well as its products, before proposing it to my readers.” Editors don’t just have deadlines to think about, but also their reputation and the integrity of their publication as a whole.
Zaczkiewicz, noting the long term work that goes into curating holiday guides, offers the following advice. “Make sure you know the publication’s lead time on gift guides,” he says. “Many publications work on gift guides well in-advance of the holidays and on separate deadlines from regular features.”
Holiday guides also offer an opportunity to devise a plan centered on exclusivity and time-sensitivity to motivate people to purchase your products and support your company during the holiday season. “It is always a guarantee to invest in a one-shot product, ” Giano says. “Placing a time limit on the purchase gives the consumer greater incentive, especially in this period of the year, as [they are] particularly inclined to indulge in some extra whims.”
No one wants to feel like they’re missing out, so this can be a very impactful strategy, especially given how people are more apt to buy while feeling the additional stress of the holidays. If you’re offering a solution to a problem, and its availability is limited, people won’t want to hesitate.
When sending your pitches, be sure to include hi-res images of your products, links to social media and note where the product can be purchased. Remember, editors are particularly busy during holidays, give them everything they need should they decide to move forward.