‘Tis the Season: Top 6 Rules to Think Outside the Liquor Holiday Box

If you’re just getting to it now, you’ve missed the deadline for the top tier, long lead magazines for the holiday gift guides (read: Real Simple, Vanity Fair, Bon Appetit, etc.). Another year totally blown.  While the December issue is closed at the end of June, my thoughts are that editors know what they want long in advance. So if you happen to rep a spirit or a wine, the chances of you getting your product into the most sought-after issue of the year is slim to none.

I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.

It used to be easier. When I began working with wine and spirits, there was no Twitter, no Facebook, no blogs and a lot less products vying for the same editors’ attention.   It was quite simple, actually. I researched the magazines by looking at past issues and gaining contact information by cold calling and using one of my favorite books ever: Bacons (something about that paper, the smell, ahh, memories!).

The long lead publications remain the most sought after. Not only is circulation the highest at this time of year, but the issues stay around in the household longer than any others. And since you have to be on your game 6-8 months in advance, what is a public relations professional supposed to do for his or her brands? Here are some additional ideas that might help for those short lead holiday gift guides you’re planning for September (RIGHT?!!?)….

1)     Start early. Every year I say, I will give myself PLENTY OF TIME. And yet, it doesn’t happen. Plan it, make time for it. Do it. Maybe January would be a good time to start?

2)     Think outside the holiday box. Not too long ago, I wrote about making up holidays – I still stand by that. But in this case, everyone is pitching editorial the perfect cocktail to have for the holidays, or the perfect wine stocking stuffer. Think outside of the wine box this year and come up with something loopy or funny – something that will put your client on a whole new platform, perhaps.

3)     Trend-Guesstimate: Guess and check out the trends you think will happen (when in doubt, ask a millennial!) and run with it.

4)     PICK UP THE PHONE. I feel like a broken record to many young’uns around me, but when in doubt about a close date, pick up the phone and call someone on editorial to find out the date. Also, maybe actually ask them what they’re even looking for in a holiday guide. It’s as though people today only know how to text or Tweet. I mean, seriously!

5)     Think Local. Hit up publications that aren’t the most sought after. Check out local magazines in priority markets where product is available. They often have gift guides and their lead time is around 3-5 months.

6)      Talk to your client. Make sure your client is on board. Often times they’re getting holiday packaging approval one year in advance. Get that info and run with it. Otherwise, confirm the vintage they want to push months in advance and, when in doubt, get it in writing.

This is the first year in a long time that I’m not going after long lead media for the holiday gift guides for liquor – it’s amazing, quite frankly. I feel as though my summer has been released. But do not fret, come September, I’m pitching short lead, and I have my action plan all set. Now, if only I can organize this sort of thing for a personal to do list…


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