Christmas comes early for PR pros

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Smiley sandy snowman at beach in christmas hat with golden gift.As the summer deadlines for gift guide issues approach, we’ve reached out to advertising contacts to discuss the booking and pitching process. Their responses highlight several different ways to utilize a magazine’s holiday gift guide issue.

In the traditional mode, editors generally select products that fit their magazine’s area of coverage. Therefore, it’s always best to underscore how a given product fits into the context of the target publication. In a torrent of products, pitches that make the editor’s job easier by being relevant are more likely to stick.

For example, Health magazine’s annual gift guide is called the Healthy Holiday Gift Guide. The advertising representative we spoke with said that while the guide does accept pitches for a variety of categories, including food, beauty, home, tech and fitness, it makes sense to tailor those pitches to the general theme of healthy living. How could someone incorporate your product into a healthier new year?

Of course, gift guides don’t only feature editor’s picks. Paid advertorials are a part of the industry in general and of gift guides in particular. In some cases, advertising commitments to a given brand can yield a spot — supplemented with privileged endorsements — on that year’s print or online gift guides. The representative from Health sketched out a typical arrangement: advertising commitments can lead to “custom promotional listing (in-book and/or online) in our promotional holiday gift guide page,” with typical listings consisting of “copy, your product and a call to action.”

In addition, print publications are increasingly using new technology to increase audience engagement. One fun gift guide trend we’ve noticed this year is the increasing use of mobile phone apps that allow readers to quickly scan product information from the page in order to buy the product directly online. All You magazine is one major consumer publication to use this technology. Their gift guide will feature several sections this year, with titles such as Great Gadgets, Stocking Stuffers, and Great for Kids. It’s easy to imagine readers scanning and ordering a NutriBullet blender or the latest computing tablet right off their December issue. It’s also interesting to note how mobile and digital technologies — ever pushing us towards a paperless future — have come full circle to enhance the printed page.

We’ll close this year’s gift guide musings with a 2014 gift guide cheat sheet for several major consumer magazines:

  • Family Circle is looking for gifts under $50.
  • Good Housekeeping is covering toys in a Best Toys Awards feature.
  • Parents magazine will name their 10 Best Kids Books of 2014.
  • Inc. magazine will feature toys, tools and gadgets for businesses and professionals.
  • Rolling Stone will run a compilation of history’s most innovative albums alongside its gift guide.
  • Discover magazine is interested in the year’s “most popular and game-changing consumer electronics.”

— Written and researched by Brent Treworgy, a senior media researcher for magazine content at Vocus

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