How to get your product featured in a Christmas gift guide
small business woman reading a magazine wondering how to get a product featured in a Christmas gift guide

Magazines and newspapers… even local community papers and event programmes… they regularly include shopping pages of gift guides ahead of Christmas. So, if you’re wondering how to get your product featured in a Christmas gift guide like that, this blog has the answers.
After all, publicity like that can really catapult your business, for relatively little work 😉

But what is a gift guide? It’s a round up of product ideas, often curated in themed sections, such as ‘gifts for men’, ‘gifts for gardeners’, ‘gifts for travel fans’ etc… all for the reader to easily find shopping inspiration for products they’d like to give their loved ones.

As a business owner, having your items included in a Christmas gift guide is SUCH a no-brainer for marketing your Etsy business, or any product-based business. (Service-business owners can often captialise too, say health & wellness businesses looking for editorial in wellness magazines/blogs. A gift voucher is a great idea, right?!)

I was a magazine journalist, editor and brand manager for 20years before I started Swallowtail Social to help small business owners with their visibility. Those magazines featured gift guides every year. And of course, provided other publicity editorials as shopping features and reviews for many, many small business’ products, every single issue of the year.
I could see the huge difference that editorial features such as these gift guides made for small (and especially micro) business owners.
In truth, it’s part of what inspired me to start my current business as a social media coach, supporting you in growing your audience and garnering more visibility and sales.

I was on the receiving end of dozens of emails every single month from businesses looking for editorial coverage – a lot of those emails were very ignorable. Worse than bland. And others definitely weren’t!
They caught my eye and worked very effectively for the sender.
So I’m sharing those secrets in this blog, so you’ll know what pitfalls to avoid and can learn how to get a product featured in a Christmas gift guide.

Truth is, the sooner small business owners can take action on this, in the summer months, the better. July/ August is definitely about right, timing-wise, and I wouldn’t leave it later than the very start of September, unless you want to try and capitalise on possible last-minute gaps.
Follow these steps, and then apply the same strategy later a few weeks later, ready for potential feature in online gift guides and social accounts, doing their gift round-ups.

Product publicity is for life, not just for Christmas.
But it’s extra-powerful at Christmas 😉

If you don’t do anything else, remember this one tip:
That if you’re helping the journalist out, you’re more likely to be featured.
Editors have tight timescales. And they do not need hassle – gift guides aren’t at all easy to put together, so as a small business owner, you can follow the steps below to make the journalist’s life easier.
And they’ll be quick to put your product higher up their selection list. So: work smart!

What’s covered in this article on how to be featured in a Christmas gift guide:

  • Deciding on the best magazines/ media outlets to approach so as to get a higher ‘hit’ rate
  • How to reach out to the right person
  • Do’s & Don’t when composing your own press release
  • How to write the covering email, so that it gets noticed (not deleted!)
  • What photos will be important to include, and what will KILL your chances fast
    … all WITHOUT the need for an expensive PR agency.
    Work smart, not hard, to grow your business visibility!

And don’t miss the real-life examples I share from business owners who’ve had plenty of success with getting editorials.

To save this article for later & Pin it to one of your Pinterest boards for future reference, hit the ‘Pin It’ button in your toolbar & save one of the graphics now! ⬇️

Female sitting reading a magazine, with text overlaying the photo which reads "How to get your product featured in a magazine"
closeup photo of woman's hands holding a small gift box, with text overlaying the photo which reads "Get PR coverage in magazines and blogs this Christmas"

My top 6 recommendations to be featured in a gift guide (or other product editorial!):

1. Start with a bit of research.

If you fancy having your small business’ product featured, begin by referring back to your Dream Customer profile. I go on about this (a lot), as it helps you understand EXACTLY who your products will suit… how exactly you’ll compete in your niche… how exactly you can improve your marketing messaging.
Get. Targeted.
If you need to work on this, to pinpoint your Dream Customer in more detail, start by reading this article.

This level of laser-focus on a small group (or even better, on one single person) stands you in good stead to approach the most suitable publications, and/ or blogs for the editorial press coverage.

Do your research on them, especially their different audiences – remembering that their actual audience might vary from what you think it is. So don’t make your assumptions too fixed 😉
You’ll have a far greater chance of success and will waste less effort, by prioritising your press release in the right direction.
The more overlap between your ideal audience and their (actual) audience, the better. Similarly, if they have a specific theme(s) for their gift guide.

Align the product you want to give the visibility to with their feature.
A press release that doesn’t align is going to quickly end up in their recycling bin.

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE:
Lisa from Stylish Home Signs had one of her gift items featured in Baking Heaven magazine last year:
“We heard this magazine was looking for unusual gifts, so we sent off a photo and a small email to them and it worked! It was a thrill for a small family business like ours to be featured in a magazine for the first time, and alongside John Lewis’ products!”
The Baking Heaven magazine was a great fit specifically for Lisa’s personalised baking box design, a perfect pressie for fans of cupcakes, cookies and cobblers. Aligned 😉

In summary: Get featured by doing the prep, so you can focus on titles that have greatest cross-over for your brand.

2. Speak with the right person.

Google is your friend. Find the email address specifically of the editorial department for that magazine publication, or of the ‘press features’ inbox for the blog.
Even better if you can find the name of the person who’d be most likely to be compiling the gift guide.
(For big magazine brands, look for the Features Editor or News Editor.
For smaller, niche or local magazine brands, try a Production Editor, News Editor or Editorial Assistant.)

Ending up in the right inbox will 100% matter.
Sad indictment: journalists are stretched thin, so a random scattergun approach means a lot of publicity pitches by small business owners flop.

In summary: Get featured by remembering that a small business email popping into the general mailbox is more likely to be lost among every other reader letter and spam message. Take a personal approach.

3. Use an email subject line that spells. it. out.

On a similar note to point 2, be super-obvious with your email subject line.
Editorial magazine staff get squillions of emails every day. Literally.
Same for bloggers (even ones who use spam filters!).

Your clever email that doesn’t scream what obvious-goodness it has inside can easily get overlooked in their deadline frenzy. Don’t slip under the radar.
Forget about creatively worded emails, which won’t ever show up in their inbox filter or their search on the day they’re scheduled to work on their gift guide. Just say what your email is for:
“PR Product feature for Christmas Gift Guide: necklace for a pet lover”.
< Insert the type of item you want to be featured, as appropriate >

In summary: Get featured by NOT being creative. Forget word play, puns or being fancy. Aim to get your message opened with straight-talking.

OK, you got into the right person’s inbox at the right publication…
Let’s make sure they read it.

4. A covering email is smart if it’s brief and to the point.

Just stick to the point.
That point being that you have a product, and they have a gift guide. And a press release (attached) will tell them about it.

Start the email using your chosen person’s name and refer to the name of their magazine/ blog too. (You did the sleuthing for a reason, didn’t you?)
This covering letter is to demonstrate how come you’re messaging them – not some other magazine/blog – and you’re confident your press release will be relevant to them.
It’s not to sell the item; that can come across as a bit desperate.

In summary: Get featured by writing a COVERING letter, not a repetition of the press release itself.

5. High-resolution images are the deal-breaker.

The best lesson in ‘give the journalist what they need’ is… a decent photo.

It doesn’t mean a beautifully styled, professional location shot. Usually gift guide editors need a super-simple photo, what’s known as a cutout.
It’s only the item. No textured background, no props, no gift wrap. Definitely not your business logo. No filters or edits, or photoshoppery.

A simple photo. (Even your phone camera is plenty good enough for that.)
Ok, if you have a fancy lifestyle-styled shot on location, but that would be best as a 2nd additional shot.

Save TWO versions, like this:
✅  JPG or TIFF. 300dpi is a must. Typical file size 1-2MB, no bigger.
Upload that one to a fileshare server like Dropbox or Google Drive (making sure the link won’t expire please!)
✅  Exact same image, as a JPG, this time saved as low-resolution so it’s only a few KB.
This is the one to attach to your email, so they can preview before downloading. Label this one as LowRes Preview.

Don’t ever be tempted to embed images into a Word .doc or a website. They’re unusable and wasting people’s time.

festive flowers from By The Sea florist in Wales, for a magazine press feature

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE:
Marie of By The Sea flowers, in Pembrokeshire, Wales says: “One of the best decisions I made was to invest in a photo shoot of my flowers. Being able to send professionally shot, high-resolution images meant that I was picked up by pretty much all the publications I sent them to. I had editorial coverage in many wedding magazines, as well as some craft titles, which really boosted my profile. From this, I was contacted by Coast magazine, who ran a four-page feature on my floristry workshops!”

If the editor wants a styled image, they’ll be ahead of the game enough to a) ask you for one, or b) ask you to send a product sample so they can set up their own photo shoot.

Whether it’s for a Christmas gift guide or other editorial press coverage – the picture is the gamechanger 😉

In summary: Get featured with high-resolution photographs on a plain white background and with minimal shadows. These will be prioritised for press product features.

6. Follow these ‘dos & donts’ for your DIY press release.

A short Word .doc is all that’s needed – one product per press release, per magazine/ blog.
Write it in the 3rd person, and leave the excess words out… so all that stuff about your backstory, your passion, your inspiration… it’s not needed for this type of feature.
Get savvy by tailoring your press release to cover just what’s needed, and don’t overcook it.

Plan out which product to submit to which editorial gift guide, and change up the wording for each press release to suit. Here are the elements you’ll need, in order:

  • Functional heading
    eg Sweet Christmas gift idea, for adventurous foodies
  • One or two sentences that say why your gift is a must-buy for their reader
    TIP! Approach this by saying how your product makes a meaningful difference to a person’s life.
  • Subheading: state the product name, reference code (if applicable) and price
  • Add a few (around 5?) bullet points, to cover the product features
    eg How many colours are available? What materials is it made from ? How is it unique/ different from others on the market? Can it be personalised? etc
  • One sentence as a recap/ extra oomph, to describe a key benefit of the item or to provide more context
    eg explain why it matters that you specifically designed it that way, or how it is better than last year’s edition, or if it has won an award.
  • One sentence, overarching about your brand as a whole
    Think of this as your ‘elevator pitch’, aka what you’d tell a stranger in 60seconds if they ask what your business does.
  • One sentence with your web address, email and phone number (if applicable) for customers to find the item

THEN: Extra points for adding what’s known as ‘boilerplate’ info to the end of your press release. This will help the journalist as they have less research to do.
Boilerplate means a list of reference bits which are standard for your business.

Use a subheading of “Notes for Editors” then list the following as bullet points:

  • Your full name and the business name
  • Editor contact: <your direct contact phone number>
  • Your email address
  • Web address of the business (the homepage)
  • Social media “@” handle(s)
  • Customer contact: <your business email>
  • Customer contact: <your business phone number>

In summary: Get featured with a ideal press release. It has the minimum number of short sentences, no fluff, and makes it easy for the editor to help your customers buy. (Which is what that person wants for their reader.)

Knowing those 6 simple steps, you can repeat for different publications/blogs and your different products.

I’d send a follow up email a week after the first, if you don’t hear a reply – follow-ups are expected.

Put this task on your ‘to do’ list this week – remember summer is when it counts, when you’re in ‘slow season’ 😉 Do your future self a favour to be in with a chance of capitalising on some great press coverage when peak shopping season comes around. 

Good luck, and fingers crossed for those extra web visits and orders to come in.
Let me know how it goes,
Ruth

PS. For extra coaching help with how to use PR for bigger editorial features and to leverage your business, beyond gift guides, look out for my “PR for non-PR pros” online workshop or just email here to see about a 121 Powerhour that’s tailored to be specific for your brand and to fit your learning style.
I’d love to share my insider knowledge to help you reach new audiences.

1 Comment

  1. Yusuf

    Your writing style is really engaging. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Reply

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