Publicity seekers know that Christmas can provide a bonanza of media coverage. Every media outlet, it seems is cranking out a special edition on gifts for the winter holidays. So, Christmas is the time to get ink for your product.
For many of these opportunities you need to be thinking at least six months out so that your product or service finds its way into the special sections. Magazines like Better Homes have long lead times, while newspapers have deadlines a few weeks from the holiday. Don't forget trade magazines that reach your customers. Electronic media typically will work closer to the actual holiday date. Another avenue to consider is syndicated columnists, who also have shorter lead times.
A great way to get coverage is to suggest an overarching story idea into which your product or service fits. Think about the users as well as the use for your offering, and think about the publication.
Let's take some of my clients for example. Charleston Cookies might be positioned as part of a story in Southern Living about Gifts of the South, or Gifts For Southerners Who Moved North. Bank of Commerce stock, which is now on sale, could be part of a story on Kids' Gifts That Keep On Giving. Ty Boyd's Executive Speaking Institute might be part of a story on the Gift Of Learning.
A pet store might publicize Warm and Fuzzy Gifts. Your product might fit into Gifts for Teens, Gifts for Executives, Gifts For Chilling Out, Gifts For Those Who Have Everything: you get the idea.
Now, here is what you should send to the media. Send a pitch letter, or email, that explains how the gift fits into their editorial needs and with their readers or viewers. A one-page release and product photos also should be sent. If you send via email, do not attach a bunch of photos. Find out how the editor prefers to receive them and follow her instructions.
Our next task is to decide where to send the information. Yahoo! has a directory of media that you can use for free. There are all sorts of paid services ? like Bacon's - that provide media lists. Better still is the excellent Christmas Gift Guide produced by the League of American Communications Professionals.
Get to work now, and get the gift of coverage this Christmas.
Harry Hoover is managing principal of Hoover ink PR. He has 26 years of experience in crafting and delivering bottom line messages that ensure success for serious businesses like Brent Dees Financial Planning, Levolor, New World Mortgage, North Carolina Tourism, TeamHeidi, Ty Boyd Executive Learning Systems, VELUX, Verbatim and Youth Link USA.