A PR's advice: media pitching for the holidays

Image credit: Ben Smith / Unsplash

Image credit: Ben Smith / Unsplash

The difference between a story getting written and published - or going straight to the ‘deleted items’ is dependant on the timing of your pitch.

If a story is pitched too late to be published (even if it’s still relevant), a journalist won’t even pass it along for approval. If sent too early, it’s highly likely it will be forgotten.

In the lead up to the silly season, where journalists are working tighter deadlines than usual, timing your pitches can get especially tricky.

When should I pitch?
It completely depends on what type of publication you are pitching to. If you’re pitching to long-lead media (your glossy, monthly / bi-monthly magazines) or short lead media (online, tv, radio, newspapers).

For long lead, August is when I start reminding clients about information, images or products they would like considered for holiday gift guides and by September (three months in advance), I like to be pitching these in.

For short lead media, I begin pitching end of October / early November – approximately six weeks in advance and continue to follow up regularly until the second week of December.

Is it ever too early?
Holiday pitches around July are too early; media won’t be thinking about Xmas yet and it’s highly unlikely clients will have all the necessary information or launches in place by then.

If you do happen to have the necessary information for long lead media, go ahead and pitch to them but be aware the further out you pitch to them, the easier it is for journalists to forget. Four months out I would say is the longest lead I would give as they are hopefully not being bombarded by other pitches for Christmas and you will remain top of mind for them.

For short lead titles, even October could still be too early. I do like to start conversations around that time though so when it comes to following up, it is more likely they will remember my pitch.

As key outlets and journalists have their own way of working, I would suggest sending them a quick note asking when the best time to touch base with a full Xmas-themed pitch would be; you have alerted them that you’re going to be pitching to them, and they will keep their eye out for it.

Have I missed the boat?
For those super-short leads, you could still have some luck in mid-December but I strongly advise to have started the conversations well before then. Gift guides and holiday issues take a lot of time, so the sooner you can send in, the better—but make sure to follow up so you don’t get lost.

With long-leads - don’t even attempt to pitch anything at this time. They would have already started putting their January and February issues to bed.

As a publicist, timings are crucial and you need to respect the media’s editorial calendars. If you are organised, you should know exact deadline dates for key issues (such as holiday issues, which are usually planned months in advance) – otherwise you risk not being taken seriously for future pitches.

What is so important about timing?
For a journalist, especially freelance journalists, having pitches from PRs in plenty of time to then pitch to their editor increases the chance of the story getting approved.

Being aware of timing and having information that’s relevant to a journalist and their publication will give PR’s the best chance of being taken into consideration.

If stories are timely, there’s usually a very short window to pitch. Because of these deadlines, it leaves the writer very little time to filter through every pitch so ensure your subject line is direct and the point of your pitch is covered off in the first few sentences.

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