Did you know that Christmas officially begins in July? If you work in food PR, you will know this fact only too well!
In fact, between the Jammers, we have certainly clocked up the hours over the years organising Christmas press shows, taking festive chocolates down to London to present to food editors and writers on the glossy magazines, and munching our way through mince pies at mistletoe and holly-clad events…
But why do the festivities begin during one of the (supposedly) hottest months of the year?
And, as a food or drink brand, how do you ensure that you get your brand and your products centre stage in a very crowded market place?
Here is the Jam lowdown on how to secure top class Christmas coverage for food and drink:
1. Start early!
You may have heard the phrase Christmas in July. In actual fact, festive food PR begins even earlier than that. And, most food retailers and brands will be on top of it. Their Christmas food lines will be created, designed and tested within the first few months of the year.
Food writers on the glossy and weekly mags, national newspaper supplements and daily papers will block out their diary in July, ready for the plethora of press shows and fancy events that are planned by the larger food brands and stores, as well as collaborative shows such as Christmas in July, in which smaller food and drink brands join together for exhibition-style shows that are also well attended by the media.
With this in mind, press packs and photography will need to be drafted, signed off and created in advance, good to go and ready for the season…
2. Establish solid relationships
A good tip for any brands not taking part in the Christmas press show circus is, to take your products to the relevant editors personally with desk drops in the first week or so of August.
These media contacts will be up to their eyeballs with samples and information. The best way to achieve cut-through is to pick up the phone, and arrange to meet the relevant food editors at their offices (mainly located in central London).
At Jam Towers, we never underestimate the power of creating solid personal press contacts. By meeting face to face you can also establish what festive features are coming up, what themes they are working towards for gift guides, and what kind of photography they are looking for, amongst other things.
These meetings will also give you a great platform to give out samples of your products. Top tip: give them a wide range of products that can be shared out with their colleagues on the day. A simple way to get them onside!
3. Know your media deadlines
Did you know that monthly magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Olive work as much as four months ahead? And for the Christmas issues, the food testing and Christmas recipe pages are planned even further in advance than that?
Additionally, weekly magazines such as Best, Bella and Grazia, plus national newspaper supplements such as Stella, Notebook and Fabulous have six – eight-week deadlines. Digital and national food and consumer publications work right up to publication date.
With this in mind, Christmas media outreach never stops from July right up until the big day itself!
Wondering why print media is still a big focus for Christmas? The festive editions of the big glossy magazines sell huge numbers of copies during October, November and December. Most of the content will also be repurposed online nearer to Christmas itself. In fact, according to Hearst magazines, Good Housekeeping’s circulation figures were up 5.35% year on year (from July – December 2018) with a combined ABC of 451,716 per issue. Not to be sniffed at…
4. Have your food PR assets ready to go…
If you speak to any food journalist, the ability to receive information such as product descriptors, allergy information, nutritional information, prices and stockists, as well as high res photography as and when they ask for it is crucial. So, from a PR perspective, you need to have your ducks in a row as soon as you possibly can.
Most print journalists will understand that prices may have to be confirmed and stockist information may be updated as you go along. Making sure you keep on top of requests is paramount to success. It can make the difference between getting great Christmas coverage and missing out.
The Jam team has collectively worked across a large number of food PR clients over the years. Clients have included Thornton’s, Boddingtons, The Co-op, AGA and Life Fork Spoon by celebrity chef, James Martin. To get your food or drink brand centre stage for the festive season, get in touch.