In the world of PR and lifestyle brands, Q4 kicks off the peak holiday season for short-lead media. That means we have about a two-month window (until late October) to curate press lists, fact check product copy, and finalize images to ensure that everything is in place to successfully pitch gift guide story angles to online journalists and broadcast media.

Getting the attention of overloaded editors to secure brand exposure is part of a multi-pronged pitching strategy that calls for due diligence, ingenuity, and ongoing engagement. It also involves tapping into the most relevant marketing tactics available to help support your brand goals and get the maximum impact of your pitching activities – from content creation and execution to reaching target audiences.  

Due diligence is the centerpiece of a well thought-out approach to placing your brand in front of the right media outlets at the right time throughout the year – not just Q4. Identifying and nurturing the most important press contacts for your brand’s target demographic are key components for success.  

Best Practices for PR Pitching - Q4 and Beyond

Ingenuity and compelling story angles and subject lines are core elements behind the actual pitches. However, be sure to keep your talking points clear and concise, while highlighting product facts, like price and availability, in an easy-to-read format. The most creative pitch can get deleted in a heartbeat if an editor can’t figure out what the product is or where to find it.

Ongoing engagement is my favorite topic because it’s so rewarding and turns the profession of public relations into a personal foundation of lifelong relationships.

Building trust, credibility, and ultimately “top-of-mind” status with the media is an organic process that involves sharing information and insights that might have nothing to do with your brand; it’s more about being a knowledgeable resource and sounding board over time.

This is not something to put on the “to-do” list for Q4 holiday pitching and expect to see results from by next month. It is, however,  something to establish as part of your holistic pitching strategy, after doing the up front work needed to put an effective plan in place.

We will discuss this in more depth below, but the underlying elements needed begin with identifying approximately six media contacts who reach your target brand demographic; researching their stories and backgrounds; and building a dialogue with those editors.

Maximizing your marketing resources

When outlining your long-term pitching strategy, keep your overarching brand goals in mind. Whether it’s leveraging social campaigns, influencer collaborations or email marketing, the most effective pitching tactics are developed in conjunction with other core branding strategies for the company.   

Below are other takeaways for essential pitching practices, as well as some marketing tactics that will make your strategies as impactful as possible:

Proactive planning and opportunities

Evergreen story ideas, seasonal themes, and brand-specific topics should be identified and mapped out in advance as part of your annual branding and pitching strategy.

Key guides/roundups throughout the year include: New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Spring Cleaning, Earth Day, Memorial Day, Christmas in July, July 4th, Back-to-School, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and December Holidays. Trade shows, special events, and other related venues should also be incorporated into your annual pitching strategy.

Best Practices for PR Pitching - Q4 and Beyond

Think like an editor

Like most of us, editors have more work than hours in a day, and less tolerance than ever for people who waste their time. Do your homework; make sure you are reaching out to journalists with information tailored to their areas of specialization.

Make me laugh” is as important as “Tell me why I should care”

The most effective pitches answer that pivotal question, “Tell me why I should care.”

If there’s a way to drive home the distinctive benefit of your product with humor, then go for it! Whether it’s a 15-second video, graphic or “problem/solution” anecdote, this is a memorable approach. And besides, who doesn’t like to laugh?

Build connections with credibility

The best media relationships begin before you have a story to pitch. Cultivating engagement with press contacts and other industry experts organically and consistently will ultimately result in you being viewed as a valuable business resource.

Building casual conversations over time around relevant industry issues and events will also significantly increase the likelihood of brand inclusion in gift guides, product roundups, and other editorial opportunities throughout the year.

Do what you say you’re going to do

Being a knowledgeable, trusted resource also means that editors can count on you to answer their questions in real-time as they write and fact-check their stories. Be responsive and meet their deadlines; no exceptions.

Say thank you

Thank editors for coverage and send a testimonial if it’s appropriate (this applies more to trade than consumer press).

Knowledge is power

Also focusing more on the trade press segment – aid editors in learning new business sectors as they are assigned new product coverage categories. For trade press, it is very common for editors to take on additional beats or be assigned new beats altogether. As a reliable PR pro, sharing what you know with the editor will further build your relationship and help him/her have an easier time entering new terrain.   

The Holy Grail: face time

Some of the best pitch ideas bubble up during a face-to-face conversation with an editor at a trade show, or over coffee. Nothing replaces the art of an actual conversation, in person. (Think trade shows and desksides).

The go-to resource  

The end game is for you to be able to pick up the phone and call one of your top press contacts to get their feedback on an event or industry issue, as well as your brand. Likewise, your key contacts would do the same; view you as an expert resource for market insights, brainstorming, and ultimately, brand/story tie-ins.

Next Steps

So, where do we go from here? The beauty of today’s media landscape is that we have a wealth of new and longstanding tactics available to ensure that pitching strategies are successful, while helping to drive overall brand growth. By combining PR fundamentals with relevant marketing tools, you are poised for an effective pitching plan year-round.    

Is your company looking to make the most out of Q4? Contact us today to get started on your Q4 plan and learn how we can help!

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