This step is all about approaching the media. It's the fun bit!
We’ll take you through the etiquette of contacting the media to give you the best chance of success, we’ll show you how to find the right journalists who love gift guides. Some of contacts may be on the media list we gave you when you first signed up, so make sure you check that list before you start your research.
We’ll also quickly teach you about the different types of media, how they operate and we’ll prepare you for any interviews you might have.
Once you’ve worked through this step, you will be ready to go out to the media.
TYPES OF MEDIA
Print magazines and online magazines are the most likely to do gift guides for each occasion. Think women’s mags, men’s mags, health and fitness mags, food and travel mags etc.
Newspaper supplements are the mags you get in the daily and weekend papers. They also tend to do gift guides.
TV shows don’t often run gift guides as such. The ones that might are the magazine shows like Today Extra, but they are very few and far between.
The radio shows that might choose to do a gift guide are those with segments that relate to a specific topic, eg the food & drinks and health & wellbeing shows on both Talking Lifestyle and the 2GB network.
You should concentrate on print publications primarily.
You also need to be aware of the timelines that media work to. All media work to lead times but not all their lead times are the same.
Monthly magazines are known as long lead publications because their lead times are three months – this means that they write their stories and send the issue to print three months before you get it in your hands.
It follows that you will need to find out if they are running a gift guide about four months in advance. Remember also that they are always a month ahead, so the Christmas issues will come out in November.
Weekly magazines and newspaper supplements are known as medium lead as their lead times are approximately 4-6 weeks. Their guides will come out a month before the occasion so you need to get your product to them roughly a month before that e.g. mid October for Christmas.
Now we need to work on building your media list. Refer back to the first worksheet you filled in when you outlined your target audience.
Now think about what they are reading, watching and listening to as this tells us which media you need to approach to get your product or service into a gift guide.
When you signed up, you got a link to a media list – view it, copy the media you think are right for you and paste them into a blank excel spreadsheet so you have a working document you can update as you go.
The list will be updated regularly, so don’t forget to go back to the link and check for any changes before you begin an outreach.
HOW TO FIND NEW MEDIA CONTACTS
So what if not all of the media you want to get into are on the list we’ve given you? Well we’ll quickly show you how to find your own contacts.
For magazines, the best way to find out who is compiling the gift guide is to speak to the editorial assistant or editorial coordinator (same thing!) on each publication.
You need to find the general number for each title and ask to speak to the editorial assistant. Once you get hold of them, ask them firstly if they plan to do a gift guide and if so who is looking after it.
Get their name, email address and postal address and put it in your blank media list. Then contact that person to see if your product is right for their guide. If they say yes it is usual to send a sample of your product to them.
For newspaper supplements, grab a copy and see if there is an editorial assistant. If not, you can contact the editor or deputy editor to ask. Repeat the process above.
HOW TO CONTACT THE MEDIA
Most journalists expect to get an email these days, so it’s quite ok to email them to find out if they are doing a gift guide, however calling can be very effective too, so if you like to talk then this could be a great option for you.
Either way, you need to work out your pitch. You can’t just send your fact sheet on its own and say ‘please see attached and let me know if you’re interested’, similarly if you call, you need to work out what you’re going to say to hook them in. You need to tell them why your product is worthy of being included in a gift guide.
Never send out a bulk email cc’ing or even bcc’ing everyone. They will know that you simply blasted it out to everyone you could think of and they won’t respond well to that. You need to contact each person individually.
The pitch email for gift guides is very simple; it’s just a case of outlining why you think your product would work for their guide.
Some things to think about:
- Is it a luxury guide? Expensive, high end and limited edition items work well for these
- Is it for mums? What about your product appeals to mums? Is it about pampering her and giving her some me time?
- Is it for fitness fanatics? Is your product healthy or sporty?
- Is it a food gift guide? Why does your product appeal to foodies? What’s special about it?
- Can it be ordered online so it's available to everyone in the country?
Download the pitch email template and we’ll walk you through what you need to do.
SENDING YOUR EMAIL TIPS
- Use the journalist’s first name if you have it.
- Get to the point quickly. They really might not read past the first few lines, so you need to grab their attention fast.
- Keep it short and punchy. Don’t just cut and paste your fact sheet into the email. Pick out the highlights and explain why it’s interesting to their audience.
- Attach the fact sheet to the email and direct them to it for more information.
- You can also attach some images as sometimes this can help as the journalist can see what it might look like on the page.
- Include a link to a Dropbox folder with all the images to choose from (it’s a good idea to use bit.ly to create a shorter link that you can customise).
- Be friendly but professional.
- Remember to include your contact details and how best to get hold of you if they want more information.
So you’ve emailed the person pulling the guide together.
Hopefully they will get back to you quickly to let you know if they are interested. If they are, usually they will ask you to send a sample to them to look at.
Keep a record of who you sent the product to (and which product you sent to whom if you have multiple skus).
Just because they asked you to send the product over doesn’t always mean they will include it, but it’s a good sign.
Give contacts a chance to reply, but if you haven’t heard anything back for a week, then you should follow up with the journalist by email once more, then it’s time to find someone else on the title to ask.
Remember to contact the journalist that wrote the story to say thank you.
It can go a long way to making you a memorable contact and one they’d be happy to work with again. They may even reach out to you next time they are writing a story on your topic.
Q. When do I send a sample of my product?
A. Usually you wait until the journalist gets back to you before sending it, but if your product has to be seen to get the full effect, then you could consider sending a sample as soon as you find out who is looking after the gift guide. Make sure you include your fact sheet and a note saying that you’ve sent it to be considered for inclusion in the gift guide and why.
There are a number of handy tools that PRs use that you might want to consider using too.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a popular sourcing service for the English-speaking world. It connects journalists and bloggers with relevant expert sources. It sends out alerts every day from reporters looking for content for their stories.
Click here to set up
It’s a call out service that media use when they are looking for story content. There are often call outs for small business owners and entrepreneurs to share their stories.
You can sign up to get their alerts for free. You can also put yourself forward as an expert so that when a journalist searches for a person to speak on your topic, your name comes up.
Click here to set up
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