Deconstructing Holiday Gift Guides: Here Are What Products Rarely Make the Cut

Holiday gift guides are a top priority for many tech brands. Earning a spot on these Christmas-themed lists and roundups isn’t just considered a high honor – it’s the best press any company could ask for heading into the gift-giving season.

However, in a season where hundreds of new gadgets hit the market, it’s becoming more difficult to get your client’s newest invention featured in some of the biggest print and web publications.

Most blogs, sites, and magazines follow a specific criteria or theme when curating their “Best of” lists. What your client has lined up could either be the perfect fit or too left field for consideration.

If the endgame is to get a buzzworthy gizmo onto the web pages of Buzzfeed or the New York Times, which should always be the case, then learn to master these dos and don’ts on holiday gift guide pitching.

What Should Brands Know When Pushing for HGG Coverage?

The client expects their product featured on every major platform, you expect every editor to be receptive and write about the product, and the editors expect the product to be both an appropriate fit and an e-commerce driver. That’s rarely ever the case.

This is what brands and PR reps should know about holiday gift guides before setting their expectations too high.

  • Coverage is Usually Guaranteed to the Highest Bidder: Nowadays, it’s all about ads and e-commerce. If your client’s product isn’t something a publication can make money from, they’re likely to be disqualified from contention.
  • Customer Testimonials Speak Loudly: A high volume of positive reviews on Amazon and other retail sites highlights the popularity and quality of a product. If it’s anything below 4 stars, expect little interest.
  • Exclusive Deals Always Draw Interest: Any brand that can offer a publication exclusive deals for their readers will receive serious consideration.
  • Know the Publication’s Core Audience: Would you pitch a GPS system to Food & Wine? Or a sex toy to Teen Magazine? Determine whether this product is an ideal fit for the publication’s reader base.
  • Product Images Are a Deal-Breaker: Attractive product shots influence both consumer shopping and gift guide inclusion. Ensure your clients photos look professional and have a lifestyle theme to them.
  • Seed Out Samples to Publications You Desire Most: Your chances of coverage dwindle if a sample never makes its way onto an editor’s desk. Period.

What Type of Products Rarely Make the Cut?

It’s about optics and knowing what does and doesn’t work for a publication. Keep in mind that you’re fighting for the same block of space as hundreds of other brands, but only the right products make the cut.

What are some of the most popular tech gifts? Fitness trackers, headphones, smartphones, smart devices, and video game accessories. What aren’t? Take a look below:

  • “As Seen on TV” – These products have a reputation for being silly and useless. Hence, if they look and sound like something that was featured on the Home Shopping Network back in 1995, don’t expect much interest.
  • Super-Luxury Items – Cars, fancy jewelry, and anything in the price range of $5,000 (and over) doesn’t make for the most ideal gift.
  • One-Platform Ponies – Think of smart gadgets that only support one operating system (iOS, Android, Alexa).
  • N.A.F. (Niche as F*ck) – Something that’s incredibly unique and serves a specific purpose, but only used a handful of times.
  • Prankster Gifts – White Elephant has made gifting comical and worthless gifts a fun event around the holidays, but unless a publication has plans of creating a roundup around this traditional holiday game, it’s likely a no-no.

The Right Time to Pitch for Holiday Gift Guides

According to the National Retail Federation, 40% of U.S. consumers start their holiday shopping research in November, with 18% starting as early as September. Many publications start planning out their holiday gift guides immediately after Labor Day. Several others like to play the SEO game and roll out their coverage around July/August.

Monitoring when publications publish or update their existing gift guides can offer great insight into when it’s best to start shooting pitch emails. Otherwise, sticking to a post-Labor Day rollout is your safest play, as it keeps whatever you send fresh in an editor’s inbox.

This guest blog post was provided by Ed Hecht, VP of Business Development at Max Borges Agency, a premier PR firm for Consumer Electronics Brands. Ed can be reached at 646-430-1800 or by email at edhecht@maxborgesagency.com.

If you’re looking for PR strategies to get your brand through a slow period of the year, consider Max Borges Agency.