You say it every year: “I can’t believe it’s the holidays already!” If you are a business owner, you can’t afford to let the holidays sneak up on you. Being unprepared for holiday marketing robs you of many opportunities to get lucrative, free exposure! Follow this proactive guide to get the most holiday exposure possible, so that when your competition is stressing last minute, you’re busy enjoying the rewards of the groundwork you laid mid-summer.

Editors, reporters, bloggers and producers begin laying groundwork for holiday promotions well ahead of time.

1. Plan your Pitch. Getting holiday publicity starts with an effective pitch. “Pitch” is the media industry term for a brief introductory letter sent via email. A pitch needs to be concise and to the point, not more than three short paragraphs. Highlight the features and benefits of your product or service explaining why you think it deserves space in the desired media outlet. Offer a free sample, if applicable. Editors and reporters can spot a poor pitch from a mile and you only get one shot. If you are unsure how to design an effective pitch, please call us and we can help, and look for a future blog post on this topic. Timeline for Planning Your Pitch: May/June (6-7 months ahead) for print magazines; August/September (3-4 months ahead) for newspapers, websites, blogs and television.

2. Send Your Pitch. You’ve strategized your pitch, designing it to highlight its features and benefits for the press. Now target the recipients. Focus on magazines that are good showcases for your products or services. What TV shows are appropriate? Most national talk shows such as Today, The View and Ellen do holiday gift programs. Submit your pitch to blogs and websites with holiday gift guides, or sites with contents that dovetail with your product or services. Timeline for Sending Pitches: June/July (5-6 months ahead) for print magazines; mid-August/September (2.5 – 3 months ahead) for newspapers, websites, blog sites, and television.

3. Stay Organized. Put all the pitch recipients on a spreadsheet, with contact information and the date that you sent your information. This is very important for several reasons. You don’t want your hard work (and money spent) to go down the drain because you lost track of an important contact, and you don’t want to be inappropriate with your follow up. A good rule of thumb for following up if you have not been contacted is to do it two weeks after you sent your pitch. Never ask, “Did you get my information?” The best sources are inundated and surely did receive yours. When you follow up, either by phone or by another brief email, be sure to be helpful and interesting: Send an additional piece of information or include facts you didn’t send in the initial pitch.

We hope that this timeline of recommended activities is useful in giving you a game plan for action to achieve holiday media coverage. Next time, we will highlight four additional tips you should know to get free media coverage during the holidays.

Special Offer: Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc. loves working with small and emerging companies to raise their brand awareness and name recognition. We offer a complimentary 30-minute phone consultation. Email to make your appointment today!

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