How to avoid e-Restraining orders during holiday media pitching

I first met Kim Lieb (then Kim Lichtenstein) in 2006ish when we were both interviewed for Atlanta-based, female-focused magazine, Pink – which soon after became a digital only publication called Little Pink Book.

While Pink’s evolution was a sign of the crazy, shifting media times, it was also the beginning of a match made in PR heaven (or at least in my mind) for us. Over the years Kim and I have riffed on story ideas, mulled over growth strategies for our respective firms, and of course lamented over the dearth of effective PR measurement tactics.

All that is to say, I respect her immensely and have enjoyed watching her firm, k101 Agency, explode over the past several years. A few weeks ago, in preparation for a story I was working on with Bloomberg (which ran on November 21st) I sat down with Kim and picked her brain about holiday pitching strategies.

The conversation ended up being extremely insightful, so I asked her to put together some tips for an article. The following is her take on what works and what doesn’t for holiday media pitching…

What works:

#1 – Get your initial pitch out early, like when Halloween ends and the Christmas décor pops up the next day. Just think of the irritation sprinkled with excitement that you feel. Same idea.

#2 – Make your pitch personal to each media target and explain why your holiday pitch may be useful. Often times, we like to reference a previous holiday-themed article/segment/blog they have done or even an Instagram photo or Tweet that you could masterfully weave in to your pitch.

For example: “I noticed you Tweeted a picture of a Gluten Free sandwich, and I thought I would reach out to let you know that my client Roti Mediterranean Grill has an extensive GFree menu and is offering BOGO Gift Cards for the month of December.”

#3 – Use informative headlines and present the info in an easy to read email. I like to spoon feed some info to tie into common holiday gift themes like:

  •  Last minute gift ideas
  • Gifts under $50
  • Gifts for the women in your life
  • Locally sourced/made gift ideas

#4 – Avoid attachments with the first round of outreach, if they see value in your pitch they will ask for more info, images, videos, etc.

#5 – Always follow up via email or phone, because media does get bombarded around this time of year. Quite frankly, the worst that can happen is that you get a BIG FAT rejection. Who cares! They expect us to be stalkers, so often times I will insert a bit of humor when appropriate.

For example: During follow up I may say something along the lines of: “Please don’t file an e-Restraining order [yet], I just want to confirm that you received the Gift Guide pitch I sent you last week.”

What doesn’t work:

#1 – Attaching large files/images

#2 – Sending mass emailed press releases

#3 – Unspecific unclear subject lines

#4 – Boring, uncreative, irrelevant media pitches

I will interject and add here…

#5 – Stretching a product’s narrative to align with a holiday theme

Such as a pitch like this:

Santa will only bring you presents if you have clean teeth. Our new ToothFairy iOS app can tell you if you need to go to the dentist, start flossing more, switch toothpaste brands, get a root canal, or if you are doomed to a lifetime of halitosis. What a lump of coal THAT would be!

I think Kim would agree with me there.

Annual Today Show Appearance

Al Roker from NBC’s Today Show gets his Caboodles on…oh yeahh!

Because I find Kim and her k101 team so create-licious, I went one step further and asked her to provide a very specific client example.

Knowing they rep Caboodles (90s saaay whaaat?) I gently suggested that perhaps the dancing, cheerleading, slumber partying, former-big-permed gals in the audience would greatly appreciate this reference, while getting the inside scoop on the resurgnce of this totally fabulous throwback brand.

Here’s what she had to say about their Caboodles holiday pitching strategy this year…

It’s a sad world for PR since more often than not lifestyle and shopping experts “sell” spots on their round-up TV segments. While pitching holiday gift ideas for our client Caboodles to various national and regional shows, we decided to take a 360 approach.

When strategizing, our team went in with the realization that getting Caboodles on the show simply based on its brand integrity and appropriate content for their viewers was highly unlikely, so we devised a plan to dodge the advertorial bullet by pursuing the expert, the producer, the station/talent’s social media (to reach their audience and hopefully create a demand for more info based on retweets, likes, shares, etc.).

Additionally, we wanted to introduce Caboodles’ new products. We reached out to experts who regularly appear on TV for gift related segments. One of our targets was Dana Holmes, editor in Chief at Gifts.com and guest blogger on Huffington Post. We sent her a detailed pitch, as well as a Tweet in response to her @Giftsdotcom Tweet: “Fill in the blank: All I want for #Christmas________.”

Our Tweet was “favorited” by Dana. In addition, we saw that she recently appeared on KTLA5 Morning News, so we also reached out to Sarah Grooters, a producer for the morning news.

For reference, below is the Tweet she favorited and the email pitch we sent.

TWEET:

@k101agency @Giftsdotcom RT: Fill in the blank: All I want for #Christmas is my very own @realcaboodles #Target #Walmart #Ulta pic.twitter.com/KbiJbHydQG

EMAILED PITCH:

Hi Dana, hope all is well!

I can’t believe it’s already Nov. 6th! I guess it’s safe to assume that any of your on-air appearances for holiday gift ideas from Gift.com are fast approaching. I was hoping to toss Caboodles in your idea hat as a gift option for your viewers. Caboodles is a Chicago-based company that has been the leader of the beauty organizer category for the past 26 years.

Caboodles recently debuted a new line of chic styles at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in NYC this past September – and they were a HUGE hit. There’s truly a Caboodle to fit every personality and age. Caboodles products are available at all major mass retailers (Target, Ulta, Walmart, etc.) and range in price from $10-$50, making it the perfect gift choice for all the women on your holiday shopping list!

Below are some ideas on how Caboodles might be incorporated into one of your Holiday Gift themed segments:

#1 For a round up – we’d love to send you some products to consider for inclusion on a segment (segment ideas include: affordable gift options for every lady on your list; pop culture/retro gift options; gifts under $25; a beauty must-have this holiday season; how to stay stylish and organized on the go, etc.).

#2 Caboodles’ Story – it all started in 1987 when Vanna White shared with People Magazine that she used a Plano tackle box to store her makeup. Plano Molding (parent company of Caboodles in Plano, IL) created a pink version of their tackle box and “ta-dah”, Caboodles was born and the cosmetic organization category was created! We would be happy to have a spokesperson from Caboodles on air to discuss their unique history and how Caboodles has remained a style icon throughout the years (from Vanna to Debbie Gibson to most recently, Rachel Zoe).

#3 Last minute gift idea – since Caboodles is available at most major retailers, they’re the perfect last minute gift idea for females of every age (over 75 styles, from twinkly and tween to stylish, sleek and sophisticated).

#4 New Year segment on getting organized – Caboodles is owned by Plano Molding (the leader of mens’ organization products for the outdoors – tackle boxes, tool boxes, etc.). We would be happy to provide pointers on the best products to help men, women, children and even crafters get organized in 2014. The brands featured could be from the 100’s of products produced by Plano Molding Men’s Division, Caboodles and crafting favorite, Creative Options.

Should you need it, I have high-res product images as well as some photos from Fashion Week of celebrities sporting their Caboodles including Rachel Zoe, Betsy Johnson, Bella Thorne and Joan Rivers. I am happy to send any samples your way, as well.

-Kim

Well, Kim…once again, your genius has inspired me to re-think this whole holiday media pitching thing. And what’s more, I am definitely going to get my Caboodles on this year (that was Al Roker inspired). Who says PR doesn’t lead to sales?

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