The pandemic, ongoing protests, election, and climate crisis are altering the media’s approach to holiday coverage. Even go-to press events like Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular! and ShowStoppers, where you can show off your tech wares to a captive media audience, have gone to Zoom.

For consumer tech brands, the holiday season always presents a big opportunity to convert sales, but missing out on gift guide placements can impact that pipeline. So how are you pivoting to ensure you get into holiday gift guides? 

Relying on the tactics of 2019 to get you by in our new normal may mean you fall flat. 

When 2020 is anything but an ordinary year, you need a partner that can help you navigate based on a deep understanding of what the media are saying they need for this year’s gift guides. 

Let me share a few insights I’ve garnered from my media contacts leading into the holiday 2020 madness and how I read between the lines to score results. 

“Our normal procedure is to only include products we already recommend [from reviews] in our gift guides.” — staff writer at national, top-tier newspaper 

It’s a fact. Many big publications draw from their well of reviews throughout the year to inform their gift guides. If you haven’t already secured review opportunities with them, there’s no better time than the present. But remember, securing a yes to review a product is only half the battle. Nurturing the review process from unboxing to hitting publish is what can move the needle from three to five stars. 

“We’re shifting our approach quite a bit this year and focusing on SEO keywords rather than writing the traditional gift guide round-ups.” — commerce writer at internet culture site

It’s all about clicks and eyes guys. Just as much as securing coverage pits your product against competitors, the publishers are duking it out against each other too, but for clicks, reads and shares. When I pitch reporters, I keep my clients top SEO keywords top of mind *ahem automatic cat litter box* and use them from subject line to body copy. Is your PR rep using the keywords that rank highest for your product when pitching reporters? It can be the difference maker between a yes or a no.

“What do you have that’s under $50 or from black-owned brands?” — print editor at major lifestyle magazine

The media are following where the collective attention of our nation has been the past months, and gift guides are going to reflect that. I look for ways to position my clients products to fit within the news landscape, not work against it. You should adapt your holiday strategy to fit what the media need now, but also know when it’s just not the right time to convert so you can circle back later.

“Guides are focusing on the parenting, cleaning, and sustainability space. Products must be available on Amazon.” — writer at top women’s magazine

Is your brand on Amazon? For some publications it’s a deal breaker if you’re not. But I’ve also found a workaround if you’ve got an affiliate program set-up where you can share a commission on each sale with the publisher. Even steep discounts can be the door opener to securing national broadcast coverage. 

“To be honest, I’m hearing from up top that we’re doubling down on paid placements this year.” — head of content, top product review and recommendation site

Earned media is my bread and butter, but paid media has its place and should be a part of your comprehensive holiday PR strategy. Paid gives a brand even more opportunity to shape what publishes, request specific KPIs, direct traffic to specific links, and more. Your agency should proactively find and vet the right paid opportunities so you achieve the biggest holiday results.

Have questions about your holiday PR strategy, or just not happy with the results your current agency is achieving? Fill out the form below to set-up a no-strings attached 30 minute consultation.