Do you dream of seeing your products in a magazine's holiday gift guide and want to know some PR tips and tricks to make it happen? If so, you're in the right place!
We recently reached out to magazine editors and asked them this question: “If you can share some PR tips for Etsy sellers who want to get their products featured in your annual holiday gift guide, what advice would you give them?”
Although their responses are directed specifically at Etsy sellers, anyone who sells products online can benefit from these PR tips. Here at Launch Grow Joy, we've been sharing most of these PR tips for the last few years, especially with members of our MEDIA LEADS program and in our PR courses. However, it's always great to hear them directly from the source – the editors themselves!
If, after you read these PR tips, you feel ready to start pitching, click on the link below to download the word-by-word pitch script that I've personally used to get hundreds of media placements. And if you'd like to get contact information for holiday gift guide editors (and more), check out MEDIA LEADS.
12 PR tips for getting featured in a magazine's Holiday Gift Guide
Etsy sellers should do their research! Find media outlets that share the same demographic as them. Look at editorial calendars or request them to have on hand for each media outlet. Reach out by email directly and use names to address when possible – I never ignore an email that is addressed to me specifically, where I may have to ignore a mass email because of time constraints. Make the email very short and succinct. It's just an intro. The editor will email you back with a request for more info. Have good editorial product photos ready. These should be high resolution, and preferably on a white background suitable for print and web. – Andrea Vance, Publisher, WestCoast Families
One of the best PR tips I can offer is to submit the finished product in the correct packaging. We also want to see the real product, not some micro sample of the product. For a seller to stand out, the product needs to be of high quality, a good value for the $$ it is being sold for and take the extra time to pack the products so they arrive in top condition. Also do not use glitter or confetti that will create a mess that we have to clean up. Phone call follow up are not necessary as well as multiple emails will put them on the bottom of the consideration lists. – Brian F Strauss, Publisher, Living.Well
My biggest PR tips for sellers would be to be proactive about reaching out to media outlets whose gift guides seem like a good fit for their products. I realize it's a lot of work, but you really need to actively pitch yourself to editors, not just sit back and hope they find you, because Etsy is a really big place! Your goal is to communicate with a person who has a name, not the general email line, so I recommend contacting the main phone or email line of the magazine's editorial offices to ask who specifically is the best contact for pitching to the gift guide. Then, when you reach out to that editor (via email, not phone, no one likes to be cold-called), keep it brief. Casually explain who you are, where you're based, and what you make and include a link to your shop as well as your separate business website (if applicable). It's fine to include photos, but not too many. Sending product samples is always great, but I do understand that for many small business owners, that's probably cost-prohibitive. I have generally found that Etsy sellers are happy to send samples when requested, but like to get them back, and that's fine with us. Beyond that, my tips are probably the same as any Etsy “how-to” tips. Excellent, well-lit, graphic, contemporary-feeling photography of your product goes a long way to make it stand out. A blurry shot of your object sitting on a dated bedspread isn't going to get you very far. You don't need to be a pro, but take advantage of natural light and explore different angles (such as getting down low and tighter, more like a catalog photo). Well-written product descriptions with dimensions and other key info (like how long it takes for the product to be made/arrive) are also good. We also look at the number of sales you've had, how well-stocked your shop is, and how you've been rated by shoppers. Being featured in a gift guide means your business may spike, and we need to be able to trust that the seller is going to be able to keep up with a possible increase in demand. And in particular, for Midwest Living, regionality is paramount; we almost exclusively feature Etsy sellers who are based in the Midwest, so we really appreciate it when your geographical information is up-to-date and specific! (Not “Somewhere in Missouri.”) – Hannah Agran, Senior Food Editor, Midwest Living
The #1 thing for us is access to great, still life images. No kids or dogs or scenic backgrounds! – Jenny Lemoine, Editor, Simply the Best
As far as PR tips for Etsy sellers looking to feature their items, we have a few tips. The first PR tip I can say is to make sure that when you email out your product pitch, make sure the subject line really jumps out. I can't tell you how many hundreds of products we are emailed about a day that sometimes we just can't even get to. When it gets to that point, I scan for the most interesting and exciting subject lines. Also, when it comes to product pitches, be nice to the “gate-keepers”. When we get emails and follow up calls about products, if they are not nice to the person answering the phone or getting the email, it is harder to want to push to feature the product to editors. I know for us, we also really love being sent print-ready photos from the get-go. We love hi-res images on a white background of the item so we can fully look at it and see how it might fit on the page. If possible, send a sample or offer a sample when sending a product pitch– if we can see it and can really understand how useful it is, we are far more likely to feature it and to also include it in other editorial pieces (plus, we can sit it on our desks until we plug it into the product page so that we make 100% sure it is in– it is kind of like “out of sight out of mind”). – Krista Byrd, Editorial Assistant, Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine
Around this time of year, editors are constantly bombarded with product pitches. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to read every single one. My best PR tip: Make your subject line sing. Don’t send a pitch that was clearly part of a mass mailing. Target the magazine, and even better, target the editor. Know what they cover and how they cover it by reading their work. Does the editor specialize in book reviews, and you make book bags? Maybe that’s something that would interest them, so craft your pitch specifically for them. “I notice you review and write for an avid readership of bibliophiles, and I thought my tote would be a wonderful gift for book lovers.” This lets the editor know you read the publication and have an understanding of who their reader is. Remember: Editors craft gift guides all the time, so if your angle is “my product is a great holiday gift,” go back to the drawing board. Technically, every product can be a holiday gift. Research gift guides from previous years to gauge a publication’s taste level and the kind of products they regularly feature. You’ll get hints at what they’re looking for. Keep your pitch short and sweet, but include a link to more info like your blog or Web site. Speak like yourself; sell the product but skip the hyperbole. Not everything has to be the best, first and greatest to be newsworthy. Also, editors hate attachments. If you can’t tell me about your product in two short paragraphs, I’m not going to open a 10-page Word Doc. Grab our attention with punchy, authentic language and embed a clear, enticing image into the body of the email (again, attachments are annoying). Too many follow-up emails (or worse, phone calls) will not enamor you to an editor. Follow-up a week after your initial pitch, but after that, let it go. Do your research. You want as little friction as possible in placing your product, so know who an editor’s audience is and the tone they take when writing about products. Match your pitch to that tone, and you may just strike a harmony (and future relationship!) with that editor. Help them help you. You can lay a lot of this groundwork down months in advance by following them on social media and interacting with them in a productive, non-creepy way. You’ll see what they’re interested in (what they Tweet or Instagram) and get to know them. Trying to converse with them once in a while, without a specific “hard-sell” in mind, helps get you on an editor’s radar in a natural, organic way. Who knows, they may reach out to you if you’ve engaged thoughtfully, respectfully and authentically. – Joseph Hernandez, Associate Digital Editor, Wine Enthusiast Magazine
I would say anyone with an Etsy store who is hoping to get exposure in the magazine's gift guide should just send a short note via email, with the words “Holiday Gift Guide” somewhere in the subject line, and definitely include images. I get quite a few emails pitching items that don't include visuals, which I will never understand because with the volume of emails I receive on a daily basis, the odds are I won't respond with a request for those visuals. However, if I see them right away when I open the initial pitch email and they intrigue me, I will respond immediately so that I don't forget to include what may be a great idea. – Lori Capullo, Editor-in-Chief, Aventura
I would recommend emphasizing your local connection when contacting magazines, blogs and newspapers in your region. Local publications love to write about people and products that have a meaningful connection to their community. I also recommend that you keep your proposals short and sweet. Editors are busy people, or at least we think we're busy, and we prefer people get to the point quickly when they contact us. A cutesy introduction that doesn't get to the point in the first sentence or two will likely end up in the “deleted” folder. – Pamela Hayford, Editor, Southwest Florida Parent & Child
My biggest piece of advice would be to know who you're pitching to: do a little bit of research to find out what type of products make sense for the magazine's audience. Don't pitch your vintage clothing line to a magazine that doesn't cover fashion—you're wasting everyone's time. Pictures are key. Even if you have the greatest products in the world, if they don't look great in photos, you're not going to make it into a magazine. With shrinking budgets, magazines can rely heavily on getting pick-up images from the suppliers. If you've got a high-resolution image of your product on a white background, that makes life easier for the art director and makes it more likely that you'll make the final cut. Every magazine is different, but holiday gift guides get put together months ahead of time in many cases, so make sure you're sharing products that will definitely be available in December for purchase. Nothing is more frustrating than finding something great for your list, only to find out last minute that it won't be for sale when the magazine comes out. – Stacey McLaghlan, Associate Editor Western Living Magazine
It's most important to feature a well-composed, well-lit, silhouetted image in any Etsy pitch because that makes it easy for an editor to instantly assess the Etsy vendor's level of creativity and professionalism. Attach a hi-res image suitable for print, plus a low-res image that's better for blog posts. Also, write a concise SINGLE PARAGRAPH describing exactly what is being sold. By providing an image plus a clear description, the Etsy vendor makes it super easy for any editor to grab and use. – Susan Brierly, Style Editor, New Jersey Monthly
My best PR tips – Be prepared and be professional. Send it out way in advance of the season. I want to start seeing ideas in September for the holiday season. Major print publications have an even longer lead time than that. Make it easy for me to see exactly what you’re hoping to have featured. Include links to high res images and page with complete product & creator information. Images should be shot in a ‘styled’ format and on a white background. It makes it easier for the media to use them in their layouts if they have options. Write a great intro paragraph – short, sweet but with a hook to catch my attention. Be willing to send samples to media outlets that request – if applicable. Be sure to include all contact info including links to the seller’s Etsy shop. – Maryanne Lechleiter, Editor in Chief, Stimuli Magazine
For us and probably other regional magazines, the locale is everything. We wouldn't likely feature any item without a local CT tie in. – Mitchell Young, Publisher, New Haven Magazine
I hope you found these PR tips helpful! What are some magazines that you'd like to get your products featured in? Leave a comment below and let me know!