Pitching holiday gift guides, blog monitoring, and more

When must I start to think about pitching holiday gift guides?

When must I start to think about pitching holiday gift guides?

A well-timed question, says Amy Bates Stumpf, president of The Gift List. "Holiday gift guides often have a longer lead-time than you expect," she adds. Many national glossy titles review submissions in June. By June 30, a portion have closed.

"[Most] holiday gift guide editors want press submissions in by early July," Stumpf notes. "Unfortunately, many PR pros don't start holiday campaigns until after Independence Day."

Starting a proper campaign in June requires a targeted press list, a detailed schedule of preferred submission dates for each editor, and "a plan of attack," she says. "Holiday and seasonal tweaks to standard 'evergreen' media kits should be in the works, as well as press releases, pitch letters, and images."

By starting in June, you can exploit the greatest number of holiday feature opportunities, structure your budget, and plan a schedule to align with the outlets' submission dates.

"The result," says Stumpf, "will be more time for follow-up and better results for the client. By August you will be done with the long leads and have time to prepare for the newspaper, wire, syndicate, television, and radio pitches."


What tools help track and measure blog conversations?

Free search tools such as Google or Technorati are good, but, says Janet Eden-Harris, CEO of Umbria, a market intelligence company that recently partnered with PR Newswire to offer MediaSense blog measurement, free services can have down sides: Misleading spam, inability to determine positive or negative sentiment, and no indication of who is blogging.

Why do these factors matter so much? "Blog counts can be inflated by as much as 80% by spurious posts," she adds. "[And] total mention counts tally mentions with no regard to positive or negative sentiment. A hundred mentions where 90% are negative paint a very different picture than the same number of posts where the discussion is largely positive."

As for who is blogging about a topic: companies launching a product often target a consumer segment with very specific messages, ones that often miss those outside of that target. "When ascertaining the success of those messages, the momentum and uptake in the online world," Eden-Harris continues, "it's critical that companies are able to assess comments in light of the target demographics."

Trade shows

How can your client attract prime media attention at a crowded trade show - particularly with little to no news?

One way is to host a unique event that piques media attention - enticing attendance and making an impression that inspires them to write about your client amid a sea of show news.

"For instance," says Porter Novelli VP Kerry Walker, "you can try organizing a 'Speed Briefing' event involving your client, customers, and partners also attending the show." Modeled after speed dating, editors move from table to table with a buzzer going off every 10 minutes signaling that it's time to move on. "By providing a one-stop shop for all companies editors want to meet in a particular category," she adds, "you are helping them maximize their busy conference schedules."

A key to success, of course, is convincing partners - some of whom might be competitors - to participate in the same event alongside each other. "You really need to make your case and rally them behind the common good of elevating the overall category, driving a higher degree of mutually beneficial success," notes Walker. If done right, the companies won't be competing for media attention, but uniting to tell a cohesive, multi-faceted story that compels editors to write.

Please send your questions to toolbox@prweek.com. Please contact Irene Chang if you are interested in contributing to PR Toolbox ot to suggest ideas for future columns.

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