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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas - How to Tap in to the Holiday Publicity Bonanza

If your product or service can be given as a gift, a publicity
windfall awaits at the end of the year - but you need to start
working in June. Each December, media outlets cover the newest,
the hottest and the most unusual Holiday gifts. The reporters
assigned to develop these pieces typically depend on two sources
of information:

1. Phone interviews with local store owners

- and -

2. Press materials that have been sent by publicity seekers.

Let's deal with Point 1. Here's a cool trick: In early
November, write a letter to stores and major websites that carry
your product. Remind them that they may be hearing from
journalists soon about hot gift ideas, and request that they
consider mentioning your product when that happens. Point out a
few reasons why your product is the newest, coolest, best or
whatever. Ask the vendor to drop you an e-mail or give you a
call if a story results that mentions your product.

Now, on to old-fashioned publicity. When to contact the media
depends on the publication or program's lead time (how far in
advance of publication or airing the material is developed).
Magazines like Woman's Day have a lead time up to six months, so
get materials to them now. Newspapers have a lead time as short
as a week for feature material, so send materials in November. In
between are wire services, medium-lead magazines, "in-flight"
magazines and others. To learn the lead time of a particular
media outlet, call the editorial department. If that doesn't
work, try the advertising department.

What you send should be kept simple -- a press release about your
product/service, a pitch letter explaining why it's such a great
gift idea, and, if applicable, a disk with color product photos.
See our articles "How to Write a Great Pitch Letter" and "How to Write a
Great Press Release"
for more details.

As you craft the materials, think about where your
product/service fits. Based on its nature, cost, rarity or
usefulness, it may work with a variety of typical Christmas Gift
stories such as: Great Stocking Stuffer Ideas, Gifts for
Teenagers, Gifts for the Person Who Has It All, Gifts for
Executives, Gifts that Relax, etc. By suggesting a category for
your product, rather than simply stating "Here's a product that
would make a nice holiday gift", you're making yourself stand out
-- and maybe even giving the journalist an idea for a story angle
that he or she wouldn't have thought about otherwise. Either
way, your chances of getting coverage are greatly improved.

Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades as
one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine
and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for
PR-Hungry Businesses ,
he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets of scoring
big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips and
much, much more, visit Bill's exclusive new site:

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