How to Pitch Your Holiday Story: Tips From Journalists and Influencers

6 Ways to Get on Journalists' “Nice” List This Holiday Season

'Tis (almost) the holiday season, which means it IS the season to start your holiday-related pitches. Hoping to get your company or brand highlighted in a holiday gift guide? We asked members of the media who focus on putting together these guides to tell us about the pitching behaviors that put them in the holiday spirit.

Do some window shopping. 

Do your research before pitching to ensure the product or event you are pitching makes sense for the audience of the journalists and influencers you’re reaching out to. If they don’t see any relevance in your story, product or event they will ignore your email at best and, at worst, relegate your email address to the spam folder.

Don’t be a grinch. 

Practice patience. Journalists are flooded with pitches throughout the year, but especially during the holidays, so it may take them a while to respond. “I welcome nudges, but please give it a few days or even a week,” one journalist said. Before following up on a pitch, know the do’s and don’ts of following up. Time it right and avoid following up on irrelevant pitches to stay off a reporter’s “naughty” list.  

Offer up a holiday treat. 

If you’re hoping to get your product covered, be prepared to send a sample, as most journalists told us they won’t cover something they don’t truly believe in. “I do not do ‘blind’ reviews based on a pitch,” one journalist told us. “I must receive a sample to test the item personally before I write about it.” And be ready to act fast – most journalists are on tight deadlines, so they need those samples ASAP.

Be gracious. 

Remember that, while reporters may want or request samples, sending one does not guarantee they will write about it. From not receiving the sample in time to test it out, to ultimately deciding it’s not right for the publication or audience, there are many factors journalists are weighing. It’s okay to ask for the sample to be returned; it’s not okay to demand coverage (lest you want to end a potentially beneficial relationship before it starts).  

Avoid unnecessary stress.

Not sure if you should follow up? Losing sleep over whether or not your story will be picked up? “Make it easy for the journalist by adding a ‘not interested’ link [to your email pitch],” advises one journalist. That way, a journalist can simply click the link to let you know there isn’t interest in the product. Not only can that save you the time of following up, it can also prevent you from getting on that journalist’s “blocked” list.

Put a bow on it (but don’t overdo the decorations).

While your subject line should grab your audience’s attention, avoid “clickbait” subject lines that don’t truly describe the product. The most effective way to grab a journalist’s attention? “Keep [your pitch] short and describe the best features of the product.”

For more holiday-related pitching tips – including the products reporters are most excited to cover right now – check out our Holiday Gift Guide Pitching Kit.

About Mary Lorenz

Mary Lorenz is Editorial Director at Cision and writes about best practices and thought leadership for marketing, communications and public relations professionals. She has a background in marketing, public relations and journalism and over 15 years of experience in copywriting and content strategy across a variety of platforms, industries and audiences.

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