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Xmas comes early for magazines

The emergence of digital publishing and social media, as mentioned in previous inVocus articles, has changed the nuance if not the nature of PR pitching. The avenues between brand and consumer have become more public. As publications move to digital mediums, lead times have shrunk. But in the world of consumer print publishing, it is never too early to look ahead to future issues.

Each summer, consumer magazines look to the upcoming holiday season to plan their annual gift guides. Holiday gift guides are aimed at helping readers vet items for their holiday gift list. Even during print media’s decline after the recent economic downturn in 2009, over 100 consumer print magazines published holiday gift guides. Consumer magazines begin to feature holiday-related gift guides in specific sections (or even as inserts) with their November and December issues. Getting featured in a gift guide is an attractive pitching prospect for any PR professional, particularly as U.S. consumer confidence declined in June for a fourth straight month. Placement within a magazine’s holiday gift guide garners the eyes of the brand’s readership during the nation’s busiest shopping season. Real Simple is looking for new items priced at under $50 that have been in the market for six months or less. New products should be in stock when the gift guide issue ships (in November) and should not have received prior coverage in another national print magazine.

PR professionals looking to get a product placed within a holiday gift guide should act now, as most deadlines expire by the end of summer. A recent product guide or previous-year gift guide may further hint at the type of products being sought. Magazines look for products that resonate with their readers’ demographics and editors generally prefer to receive an initial email about products rather than the products themselves. This year, AARP The Magazine will feature tech items, which should be directed to editorial projects advisor Frank J. Yuvančič. Ladies Home Journal is wrapping up their gift guide this week, which will focus on items under $50 for home, food, pets, and guys. They are not seeking gift items for children. Inquiries to their holiday gift guide should be directed to assistant editor Lauren Piro.

Regardless of whether your product is techie or homey, get those pitches out before the summer comes to a close.

–Tayne Kim

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