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5 things to do in June to get ready for holiday media placements

We are excited to welcome PR expert and boutique agency and consultation firm co-founder, Nora Wolf, to share her expertise on getting your products featured in media during the holiday season. We are BIG FANS of Wolf Craft and highly recommend checking out their content for insanely helpful PR tips and advice for small businesses. Thanks Nora! 


The holidays are the biggest time of year for consumer spending. Many of my retainer PR clients make the majority of their sales in the four weeks before Christmas.  Getting their products into holiday gift guides is a crucial part of this. Almost every magazine, blog, and newspaper you can think of publishes at least one holiday gift guide, and most publish several. These guides have more products per page than any other media features, making them an abundant opportunity for press success!

I know the holidays can feel really far away if you’re reading this post in June or July. But, from a media perspective, they’re actually much closer than you might imagine. Since I’ve been successfully securing gift guide placements for over ten years, I wanted to share tips about holiday media pitching with small businesses owners, like you. Specifically, how and why the timing for pitching for gift guides is so different from all other media outreach.

You’re still reading, meaning you probably want a piece of the holiday gift guide pie! To get your products included in these valuable shopping round-ups, you need to start early.

If you want a piece of the holiday gift guide pie by getting your products included in these valuable shopping round-ups, you need to start early.

Here’s what you can do to get ready:

1. Research publications that are a good fit for your product

Why gift guides are such a great opportunity for brands who sell products: During the holidays, publications that don’t typically feature products, like fitness magazines, open their pages for holiday gift guides.

For instance, we think of Better Homes and Gardens as a home publication but none of these items in this gift guide are really for the home.  They are all those giftable items they generally don’t publish. But they are publishing them for the holidays! This means more product placement opportunities for your product!

Men’s magazines rarely feature home goods, beauty products, womens’ apparel, or jewelry—except during the holidays. For instance, Men’s Health published "76 Foolproof Christmas Gifts That Will Impress Any Woman," offering 76 product placement opportunities. And that's just one of their gift guides.

To take advantage of all these media opportunities you’ll want to start researching publications sooner rather than later.

Pro Tip: Don’t know where to start? Check out where your competitors have been featured to help build your media list.

2. Get ready to pitch print national magazines early

Text message with PR team about holiday gift guides pitching given this national publications timeline.

Exhibit A- to the left is a text correspondence between my team and I from March 17th. Literally March. The editor is already scouting holiday gift guide content and will start officially working on guides in June.

Print national magazines are the ones you can find anywhere in the United States, think Real Simple, Men’s Health, Cosmo, Better Homes & Gardens. If it’s in an airport newsstand, it’s probably a print national.

Holiday gift guides are a major effort for publications. Editors have to source many more products than in typical monthly features, and these products must fit into specific themes. This is why print national magazines usually begin holiday gift guide work in July.

To accommodate all this extra work, lead times can extend to sometimes over 6 months for holiday gift guides. To pitch effectively, you need to know who to contact and have your materials ready by July. Start this prep work in June.

Pro Tip: Identify the editors responsible for holiday gift guides through their bylines and add them to your media list.

3. Refresh or re-do your photography

Image examples of advice about how to photograph and merchandise your products for holiday gift guide pitching. Examples include sets, kits and collections.

If you’re working on holiday gift guide pitching for the first time, the more time you have to prepare the better. As you research publications, pay attention to the types of products that are featured, as well as also how they are featured.

What does the photography and merchandising look like?

Great photos are essential for securing placements. Look at how products are featured in the publications you're targeting. You may need to re-photograph or re-merchandise your products to have the right photos for the publications you’ve researched.

Pro Tip: Publications often prefer gift sets or kits, especially for consumables like coffee sets or cocktail kits.

Holiday gift guides featured:

4. Plan for Both Early and Late Digital Outreach

Selection of digital holiday gift guides that were published in October and November.

Digital outlets often start publishing holiday gift guides as early as October, especially digital versions of print magazines. To secure these spots and get valuable backlinks, start your holiday gift guide pitching well before October.

We recommend beginning outreach in mid-September for well-known blogs that publish early gift guides.

Selection of holiday gift guides with last-minute gifts and quick ship options.

Pro Tip: If you miss the early pitching window, there are still many opportunities later in the year. At Wolf PR, we pitch digital publications up until the week before Christmas. Focus on digital opportunities with titles like “quick ship” or “last minute gifts.”

Wolf PR website is an example of why we are holiday gift guide pitching pros.

5. Leverage Expert Guidance

We’re holiday gift guide pitching pros. As an active publicist, I work full-time in PR, not just teaching courses. After seeing many talented designers and brands miss out on crucial holiday opportunities, I created a course on how to pitch holiday gift guides.

I wanted to build this very specific niche course because I’ve seen so many amazing designers and brands (and friends) get passed over during a time of year that could be really impactful for their small business and careers.

I’m also inclined to think this PR course (and my advice in general) is really good because I’m still doing the work. Literally every day.

And if you want more info and tips for free, sign up for one of my free live gift guide pitching workshops here!

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A photo of Nora Wolf, owner of boutique agency Wolf Craft PR, offering PR for small independent brands
About the Author

Nora Wolf

Nora has worked in PR her entire professional life and has been running her boutique public relations shop Wolf PR since 2011. Nora’s undergraduate degree in art and design continues to inform and inspire her current work as a design publicist. In 2020 she decided to launch a second business, called Wolf Craft, to address PR needs that her first company, Wolf PR, was not designed to do. Wolf Craft was born out of a desire to work with companies and individuals who haven’t been able to engage with a PR firm in the past due to budget or content constraints. Through Wolf Craft, Nora has created the tools and expert guidance you need to do your own PR and create long term media strategies.