It seems like just yesterday PR professionals and editors lived a simpler, (mostly) friendly give-and-take existence. Heading into holiday season, hardworking media mavens connected with their editorial partners in crime, tossing them witty holiday pitches designed to sell the season’s hottest gift ideas on behalf of their clients, all the while hoping for the coveted Holiday Gift Guide placement. Oh, the good ole days!

A recent PR Bootcamp slapped a room full of hungry PR professionals smack dab across the face. The high energy, quick-to-network New York crowd with friendly hellos went from easy how-to pitching advice from the best-of-the-best to a brass tacks reality check on the way of the world.  Reporters, editors and producers worlds have changed again, and so must we.  And quickly.

Shrinking Media Revenue Driving New Models

What’s going on? Even while magazines seem to be regaining some popularity among consumers, according to Statista.com, the estimated aggregate revenue of U.S.-based periodical publishers has fallen sharply in the past decade from 46 billion U.S. dollars in 2007 to around 28 billion in 2017. As consumers move to the internet for their news and favorite lifestyle content, it has become increasingly difficult for magazines to keep their print audiences, affecting revenue from advertising. It also has created a critical new way to shift revenue opportunities online, leveraging those digital eyeballs.

While magazines continue to manage their editorial content with smaller staff, the bigger headline is that the editorial side of the house is partnering more and more with the publishing (read revenue) side of the house, in an effort to monetize their content online. And Holiday Gift Guides are perfect for driving traffic from editorial pages to shopping pages.

Most of the PR Bootcamp panelists shared how they work with their SEO managers on their publication’s digital content strategy, informing what they do for holiday gift guides. Several editors shared that products available on Walmart.com, Target.com or  Amazon.com, might get prioritized so the placement/recommendation can link to the product sales page.

Enter Affiliate Marketing

By some counts, 90% of online gift guides are Affiliate Marketing programs. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to pitch editorial – it means you have to jump higher than ever to land on the pages of the Holiday Gift Guides.

According to Shopify, one of many commerce platforms, affiliate marketing is an online sales tactic that lets product owners increase sales by allowing others targeting the same audience— “affiliates”—to earn a commission by recommending the product to others. At the same time, it makes it possible for affiliates to earn money on product sales without creating products of their own. Every time someone clicks through your client’s link to Amazon the site gets a kickback. Yes, even O Magazine. (See O’s 2018 Favorite Things here.)

What’s next? As you prepare your holiday pitches, keep these four important points in mind, and you and your clients will be on your way to a very Happy Holiday!

4 Ways To Improve Holiday Gift Guide Pitches:

  1. Know your audience. A email blast to every reporter you know is a sure way to be ignored. Each reporter and outlet is different. Personalize to have a chance of breaking through.
  2. The Subject Line is the first line of offense. Be concise, specific and compelling. Under no circumstance use “I’ve got a great holiday gift idea for you” as the subject line unless you want to break the land speed record for deletion.
  3. Make the pitch good. Lead with trends, provide an expert (BE the expert!) focus on why the product is awesome and what problem it solves.
  4. Attention Walmart/Target/Amazon (other big shopping site) Shoppers. Include the link to a big shopping site.

And lastly – get moving! It’s now or never!