Back to blog

Influencer Marketing Resources

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

holiday gift guides

Appearing in a holiday gift guide may feel like a pipe dream, especially for smaller businesses, but it’s far from out of reach. There are a plethora of gift guides these days covering all corners of the retail market, so you’re bound to find a niche you fit into. Instead of sitting around waiting for your dream gift guide editor to reach out to you, why not make the first move? With the right contact information and a few tips, your product could be in the pages of a physical or online magazine just in time for the holidays.

Why You Should Pitch Your Product For Holiday Gift Guides

With over $1 trillion spent on holiday shopping in the United States, it’s easily the biggest time for retail sales. Black Friday alone makes up $9 billion of this spending. You likely already have an existing Black Friday merchandising strategy, but if you aren’t already focusing on gift guide features, you should be. Getting shoppers to bring your products home for the holidays means boosting your brand awareness early, and one of the best ways to gain exposure that drives sales is being featured in holiday gift guides

All types of publications, both print and digital, crank out gift guides for the winter, from Buzzfeed to Marie Claire to Good Housekeeping to Oprah’s Favorite Things. In 2019, 17% of survey respondents claimed to curate their holiday shopping lists based on these guides. Best of all, there’s no need to hire a PR agency to pitch your brand for you — in our experience, editors prefer hearing directly from the brands themselves. Get your name out there this holiday season with the following pitching tips.

Tips for Print Magazines

A lot of brands dream about seeing their product in the pages of a glossy magazine. Appearing in one gives your brand clout like no other, but the road to a magazine feature requires hard work and a lot of confidence in your brand.

Almost all major publications will have a dedicated holiday gift guide editor. A quick Google search or a peek at the masthead should tell 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.)

Make sure to do your research and only pitch publications that may actually be a good fit with your product. Your brand’s new liquid lipstick may be a great fit for POPSUGAR, but not Food & Wine – and nobody likes impersonal emails that were obviously sent en masse.

Here are a few gift guide editors from popular publications:

  1. Dawn Davis, Senior Editorial Director at POPSUGAR/ Oversees the beauty Holiday Gift Guide (ddavis@popsugar.com)
  2. Alyssa Jung, Senior Editor for Prevention, Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day (alyssa.jung@hearst.com)
  3. 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.

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)

40 Holidays and Editorial Timelines to Add to Your PR Calendar - Download the PDF

Other Tips to Keep in Mind

When contacting editors, make sure your email is both informative and courteous. If you can, add in a couple personalized details in each pitch, relevant to the publication or its audience. Be sure to include certain information, such as: 

  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 and trust 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!

Last updated August 2, 2021.