Getting a product featured in a newspaper, magazine or online is a great way to raise brand awareness and drive traffic to your website and social media channels. Whether it’s a regular product page, such as Stylist’s The Style List, or a listicle – eg. this season’s must-have trench coats – this kind of coverage can provide a real boost to your PR efforts. So how do you successfully pitch to a journalist? Whilst there’s no guaranteed formula for success, here are a few tips to get you ahead…
Know your audience
This might seem obvious but when you have a product to sell, it’s so important that you truly understand the customer you’re selling to. Whilst you might have a personal goal of getting into Vogue, if your customer isn’t reading it and your price point doesn’t fit the magazine, it’s pretty much a pointless exercise. Always go to the places that your customers are.
Do your research
Whether you’re a PR expert or a DIY solopreneur, staying on top of the media is one of the most important things you need to do. Looking at what’s trending and spotting what journalists want will be key to your own success. One of my fave things to do is scour the product pages for the latest trends – a quick scan every week and I feel like I’ve got the measure of what’s making the grade. Do this for your own products, in particular; identify where you think they’ll best fit, read those titles and research the pages. This will be key when you pitch your products!
Timing is everything
You also need to consider whether the title is a short lead (daily/weekly title) or long lead (monthly/bi-monthly magazine). The latter will be working 3-6 months ahead, so there’s no point in pitching your Valentine’s themed product in January because you’ll be too late. Also, think about any upcoming dates that might make your product timelier; for example, refillable eco-friendly household products perfectly timed with Recycling Week or new habit tracker journal to help with those January New Year’s Resolutions. Now is the month to be pitching Christmas products, FYI!
This isn’t essential, but can help you anticipate what a journalist might be looking for.
Try to build some rapport
Once you’ve identified where you want to pitch your product, I’d recommend following the journalist(s) on social media, as this might give you an opportunity to get your brand name in front of them in advance of sending your email. Don’t bombard them, PLEASE, but just engage as and when it feels right.
Once you’ve sent your email, I’d also recommend sending only one follow-up email. If you don’t hear back from them, they’re not interested… or at least not right now. I’ve had it before when I’ve received a reply six months later because it was something they were suddenly looking for.
If they do include your product, send a quick ‘thank you’ email and when you post it on social, don’t forget to tag the journalist and media in your post. This might help you get future coverage!
Get your pitch right
Now, this is where your research comes into its own. As tempting as it is to do a “Hi XX…” copy-and-paste email, it’s not going to get you anywhere. Tailor each email and keep it succinct… journalists are busy and your email might be one of a few hundred that day, so personalisation and simplicity might just help you get seen.
For your subject line, make sure it’s an obvious product pitch, eg. “Product for consideration: Style Notebook”
For the email itself, keep it short and snappy, eg.
I’m getting in touch with a product for consideration for ‘5 of the best’ in Style Notebook. I absolutely loved your eco-friendly earrings last week and thought you might be interested in my brand new refillable shampoo brand, which is 100% vegan and aims to cut waste across the cosmetics industry?”
Follow the intro up with the same format that you see products in their page, so if it’s a one liner with the price and URL, then include that. You might also want to include a low res image too, so that they can see what it looks like. Then add a link “To find out more about the business and products available” with a link to your press pack online (Dropbox is usually best).
If you have anything particularly exciting that they should know – eg. an impressive award win or celebrity customer – add that in the email too, but only if you think it’s a game changing piece of information. You want the email to be short and snappy.
Sign it off with your contact details – including the best phone number – in case they need to get in touch.
A picture paints a thousand words
I talk about the importance of high res images in my A-Z of PR, but this really is essential for product page inclusion. A nice photo taken on your phone that works for your Instagram grid isn’t going to cut it for the media. You need professional photos; both cut out product images and lifestyle shots. This goes back to your research; look at how they list products and provide an image that fits.
Make the most of your coverage
It’s worth noting from the outset though that being included in these pages won’t necessarily be the answer to your sales targets for the month, but it can do wonders for your brand awareness. Make sure that your website and social media is ready; have your products listed and available to purchase, and look at how you can capitalise on additional traffic, such as building an email database or running an offer for return customers. PR your PR!
So, whilst this can’t guarantee that your products will get listed, following these steps will put you in the best possible position to be considered. Good luck!