Now is the Time to Get Free Publicity for Your Product in Holiday Gift Guides

Did you know that May is when you need to start trying to get media publicity for the fourth quarter holidays? That’s when many major magazines start accepting, and even have deadlines for, submissions for holiday gift guide publicity placements.

And if yours is a product business, most likely the fourth quarter of the year is absolutely crucial to your bottom line.

One of the most effective sales and publicity strategies for your product is to be included in Holiday Gift Guides that appear in the media (magazines, TV, newspapers, radio, Internet) in November and December.

Holiday gift guide for free publicity

This past December, I got one of my clients featured in O (Oprah) Magazine’s gift guide.  The client was able to attribute well over $10,000 in sales in December alone to that one placement. I’ve heard from others that they have reaped millions in sales from just one top holiday gift guide placement.

Why are holiday gift guide placements so great for sales? Because Holiday Guides offer recommendations for gifts people should consider buying.  Why is this so important? Because the  holidays are the time when readers or viewers are READY TO BUY and eager to see what a media outlet recommends.

Best of all, the media usually includes a Web site and/or telephone number where people can buy the recommended gifts (in many publicity articles this information isn’t included).

But you need to get moving on this now, so you don’t miss any deadlines. Many magazines have a 6 to 7-month lead time.

As you might imagine, getting into a Holiday Gift Guide is not all that easy. There’s a great deal of competition from hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other companies that are also pitching their products.

So, here are 10 tips to help you get your products covered in Holiday Gift Guides:

1. Send your pitches at the right time. Timing is critical. Know the deadline for each Holiday Gift Guide. Here are the typical deadlines for sending in submissions:

  • Most magazines (other than News Magazines): Six months prior to issue date
  • News magazines: Two to three months prior to issue date
  • Newspapers: One to two months prior to issue date
  • TV/Web/Blog/Radio: One to two months prior to broadcast or publication date

2. Determine the category of gifts that each media outlet covers. For example, one in-flight magazine may only include technology gifts in their Holiday Gift Guide this year, while another in-flight magazine may only cover upscale items.

3. Pay attention to your packaging and shipping. I’ve been told many times by media people that products often arrive broken, or with unappealing packaging, and the media people often won’t even consider those products for coverage in the Holiday Gift Guide.

4. Offer inexpensive products. Many media outlets cover gifts under $50, $25 or even lower cost stocking stuffers.

5. Send in your most colorful products. Most media outlets are visual, and color looks better in the pages of a magazine or on TV than drab colors do. If you flip through magazines with Holiday Gift Guides, you’ll notice that most of the items are bright colors. So, make sure that either your product or your packaging has eye-catching color to capture their attention.

6. Donate a portion of your product s sales or profits to charity. Some media outlets ONLY cover products that donate to charity. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases your chances of getting publicity. Be sure to mention this in all of your pitches.

7. Offer something that is brand new to the marketplace. Remember, Gift Guide Editors are just like other media people — they want something new. If you create a new product, you’ll get the media’s attention.

8. Don’t forget products for pets. Pet Holiday Gift Guides are becoming very popular.  I’ve seen them in health and women’s magazines. Remember, there are millions of pet lovers out there who consider pets their family and want to buy holiday presents for them. If you have a unique gift for a pet, you may very well get coverage.

9. Mention any celebrity tie-ins. Some entertainment media outlets will only cover your products if celebrities use them. Other media outlets like to know that celebrities use the product, because readers and viewers are fascinated with celebrities, and want to use the same products. So, if your brother-in-law’s cousin knows someone famous who’s willing to tout your product, go for it.

10. If you can get a major retailer to sell your products, include that information in your pitch. Gift Guide Editors feel more comfortable recommending products sold by major retailers.

So start celebrating the holidays this spring, by pitching your products for media coverage now.  By fourth quarter you’ll be reaping the sales from your efforts!

Get a fill-in-the-blank pitch you can use for your gift guide pitches.

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Margie Zable FisherAbout the Author: Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, a small business public relations firm, and is the founder of the WBO American Dream Program. She offers free award-winning Public Relations tips at


Margie Zable Fisher Margie Zable Fisher is the President of Zable Fisher Public Relations, helping small businesses connect with clients and potential clients online and offline through Public Relations, Social Media and Marketing. She offers free, award-winning tips at Zable Fisher Public Relations.

18 Reactions
  1. Martin Lindeskog

    Margie Zable Fisher:

    Ah, X-mas is coming early this year! 😉 How “free” will the publicity be? Do you know if the magazine that produces the holiday guide and make room for your product and offer, will automatically send out their sales people in order to get future advertising booked, new subscriptions, etc? I am all for this, but I am curios how it works in the media industry.

  2. Margie, what an excellent read. I like the advice you give regarding timing and I also agree wholeheartedly with #8.

    People really love their pets these days and they’re more than willing to spend on their furry friends, too. And if most people are like me, even if they don’t spend heavily on extras throughout the year, many will spend a lot extra on them at the Holidays 🙂

  3. Wow, I had no idea that you had to start preparing this early. This is a great set of tips to help us get started. To me, packaging is so important. Many people overlook how important a few simple changes can be. The first impression is earned from the first look at your product, especially for gift giving. Buyers want to give gifts that have that wow factor when opened by the recipients. No one is going to give a gift that looks dull and boring, it must have some pop to it.

  4. Hi Margie
    I have to agree with Martin — Christmas is coming early… But you got us all thinking about being early to the game. I always make it a habit to download editorial calendars from magazine sites or their media kits to find it. But you are right about being 6 or more months out for some. In this market, it would pay to be early and to cover more than one publication. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, as they say.

  5. Hi Margie,

    I was surprised how early should one prepare for their holiday marketing strategy. I just realized I was nurturing that false/incorrect assumption that I must do good in pitching about my product when the holiday season comes. Well, it should be the season we get the fruits of our labor. Thanks for that! 😉

  6. Nice summary Margie. We also suggest to our clients to form B2B alliances in local markets to find synergies and to attract new demographics.

    Retailers will have a tough go this season, so they should reach out for branding and PR advice very early on.

    Again, nice article.

    Tom Kelley
    Managing Partner
    Concept Branding Group

  7. Hi Margie,

    I didn’t have an idea that this is how early we should take our move. So this does apply on the rest of the holidays, right?

  8. Thanks for all your comments. Each year, especially this one (2011), I’m seeing much more interest in under $10 / Stocking Stuffer items. So if you can come up with a product, or a smaller version or travel size that is under $10 and a great gift, you’ll be ahead of the pack.