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How to Pitch Magazines for Holiday Gift Guides [Editorial Calendar]

holiday gift guides

With over $1 trillion spent on holiday shopping in the United States alone, it’s easily the biggest time for retail sales. If you want shoppers to bring your products home for the holidays, you’ll need to work on boosting your brand awareness. One of the best ways to gain exposure that drives sales is being featured in holiday gift guides. Oprah is best known for her gift guide, but she’s not the be-all and end-all. All types of publications (print and digital) create gift guides for every audience. There’s no need to hire a fancy PR agency to do this for you. In our experience, editors prefer hearing directly from the brands themselves. Being featured in a holiday gift guide is tough, but can be worth the extra effort. Here’s what you need to know:

Tips for Print Magazines

It’s a lot of brands’ dreams to see their product in the pages of a glossy magazine. Appearing in one gives your brand clout like no other.

Almost all major publications will have a dedicated holiday gift guide editor. A quick Google search or a peek at the masthead should show you who you need to pitch. (If it’s a smaller print publication, the editor-in-chief is usually your go-to for gift guides.)

Here are a few gift guide editors from popular publications:

  1. Carly Cardellino Vaccaro, Holiday Gift Guide Editor for Beauty at Cosmopolitan (ccardellino@hearst.com)
  2. Dawn Davis, Senior Editorial Director at POPSUGAR/ Oversees the beauty Holiday Gift Guide (ddavis@popsugar.com)
  3. Alyssa Jung, Gift Guide Editor for Prevention, Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day (alyssa.jung@hearst.com)
  4. Marcie McGoldrick, Editorial Director for Holidays and Crafts for Martha Stewart Living (marcie@marciemcgoldrick.com)
  5. Maya Litovksy, Editor and Publisher of FashionsWeek/ Oversees Holiday Gift Guides (mlitovsky72@gmail.com)

Take note that some publications’ gift guides are in their November issue, and others are in their December issue. Some publications don’t even have a dedicated December issue, and instead opt for a winter issue to hold them over until February - but this is not always the case.

For example, this year Marie Claire will have their “Accessories Shopping Guide” in their October issue (on sale September 24, 2019), which might be a better fit for a jewelry brand rather than the crowded gift guide issue. Food & Wine includes their gift guide in the December issue (on sale November 22, 2019). It will vary from publication to publication, but aiming for the November issue is a good rule of thumb.

Print Magazine Timeline

Keep in mind when reaching out to editors that they are on strict deadlines to get content ready for print, and you will need to work on a deadline to match that. Pitching magazines gives new meaning to “Christmas in July” because you’re in holiday mode in the dead of summer. Here’s a general timeline for you to follow:

  • When you should first email editors – July
  • When you should follow up with editors – Mid-August
  • Editors make their finishing touches – Late August/early September
  • Gift guide issue goes on sale – Mid-November

Tips for Online Publications

The good thing about online gift guides is that they're not restricted by page limits or only products with mass appeal, as is the case with print magazines. There are plenty of oddly specific opportunities for your product – like Huffington Post’s gift guide for the matcha obsessed or Buzzfeed’s roundup of mint green must-haves. Plus, their editorial deadlines are a little more flexible. So, all around there are more opportunities for your brand.

Online Publication Timeline

Timelines for online publications vary slightly from print magazines. The deadlines are usually a little later, but are still important to stick to. Here’s a timeline to reference:

  • When you should first email editors – End of August/beginning of September
  • When you should follow up with editors – End of September/beginning of October
  • Editors make their finishing touches – Early October
  • Gift guide goes live – Mid-November (pre-Black Friday) through mid-December (for those last minute gift-getters)

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Other Tips to Keep in Mind

When contacting editors, make sure it’s for a strategic reason and that your product is relevant to the publication - no one likes their time wasted.

  1. Subject line – Always include ‘holiday gift guide’ in the subject line so the editor knows exactly what your email is about and so they can add you to their list of brands to follow up with.
  2. All about gifting – Your email should center around why your product is the perfect gift to give during the holiday season. Product features that don’t directly relate to gift-giving should be scrapped.
  3. Be search-friendly – If your product is a great “gift for her” make sure your product page has those keywords so search engines (and editors) can find it.
  4. Include the price – Most publications will have a “gifts under $20” or something to that effect. So bold it. Underline it. Whatever you need to do to make the retail price obvious.
  5. Include where it’s sold – Highlight where it’s sold. You should only pitch national publications if it’s available nationwide. If it’s available on Amazon, that should be front and center. Gift guides would rather link to your Amazon seller page than your website. For example, all of Oprah’s favorite things in recent years have been available on Amazon.

Holiday gift guides are a prime opportunity to increase brand awareness and get your products in front of potential customers. At Statusphere, we help brands boost their exposure so you can focus on your other marketing efforts, like keeping up with a print publication’s submission deadlines. Click here to learn more about our process and get in touch with one of our influencer marketing specialists!