Beyond PR

Sep 20, 2016

Product Sample Checklist to Land Holiday Media Coverage

product-sample-checklistFor consumer brands and retailers, the holidays are the most important time of year for sales and product promotion. More than ever, if you aren’t pitching for social and online media, you will miss legions of holiday shoppers.

A Think With Google analysis of last year’s gift-givers found that foot traffic in retail stores has declined by 57 percent in the past five years, but the value of those visits has increased by nearly 300 percent. People are buying more but shopping less often.

If you aren’t influencing decisions during the holiday season, you are losing out.

The trick for public relations professionals is ensuring that products are featured during those key moments of the buyer’s journey. That’s why pitching products into holiday gift guides and participating in holiday-related media tours is so important.

You must be smart, though, about which tactics you employ in your media outreach. As Maximizing Your Budget with Media Tours examines, knowing which tactics and tools will work best will vary by story and media channel.

When it comes to the holidays, for instance, don’t overlook the importance of product samples. Although a nice-to-have in some media outreach, other traditional and digital publications require product samples.

That’s because the media can’t test what they don’t have.

Use the following checklist before shipping this season’s samples to ensure editors translate your products to media mentions.

Speak with the editor

If at all possible learn what an editor’s sample preferences are in advance. This can include the format or volume of materials required to be shared or even to whom to address the packages. There may be a column planned for a specific type of product that you can capitalize on if you know about it in time.


Notify the recipient

Emailing an editor, even when it is supposed to be a surprise serves two purposes. One, it is an effective touch point in which to provide product information and it opens a dialog with the editor or influencer. Secondly, if the magazine never receives the samples, you can track it down before it is too late and get it into the right hands.

Personalize it

Show that you know and care about editors and influencers by sending products they can actually use. If this is a makeup sample, for instance, consider the skin tone of the editor you are sharing the products with. For clothing, the size and style shared can also be tailored to the recipient. If you aren’t sure of an editor’s size, politely ask.

Provide product information in the package

Not everyone is going to read the email you send them but a self-addressed box is rarely left unopened. Include all product information and your pitch with your sample package, along with a thumb drive of digital assets.

Use packaging that can serve as a background for instant social posts

This can be as simple as the color of tissue paper that items are wrapped in or as complex as a customized set of ornaments to be used on a Christmas tree. If the goal is to get your products promoted by a publication, entice them to do it immediately by giving editors the backdrop for fun social content.

The holidays are a competitive time of year for both the publishing and public relations industries. Product samples can and should be combined with other tactics like media tours to make the most of your campaigns.

Download our free guide Maximizing Your Budget with Media Tours to learn more about driving results during the holidays and beyond.

Author James Rubec, Cision Content Strategist, is a content marketer, researcher and brand journalist who for the past year with Cision has told data stories about global news events, public affairs and what motivates people to take action. This builds off five years as an award winning public relations professional and journalist working out of Canada. Every great story has data behind it; when you find a way to share both, that’s where brands win!

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