With the holiday season officially in full swing, the push for client gift guide inclusion is at the top of our wish list. However, it’s important to keep in mind that media and influencers are receiving more mailers than they know what to do with, and piquing their curiosity is much easier said than done.
With this in mind, here’s a quick checklist of do’s and don’ts, along with some feedback directly from the experts. These insights are relevant not just now but year-round, to help you and your clients build strong editorial relationships, break through with coverage, and ultimately perfect the art of the mailer.
Cover the Basics
Developing a media mailer takes time and money, so make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. Not all mailers need to be flashy and extravagant—it’s all about striking the right balance and positioning your product in a manner that’s easy for media and influencers to digest.
“It boggles my mind when elaborate mailers come through that neglect to include all of the pertinent information on the pitched product (press release, note, the actual product itself, etc.). You’d be surprised how often this happens, and it just says to me that this was hastily thrown together without much thought. Having the basic bases covered matters.”
– Brian Underwood, Beauty Director, Oprah Magazine
Make it Personal
Growing relationships with media is probably one of the most critical aspects of PR, but it’s not always easy to schedule those morning coffee meetings or after-dinner drinks with impending client deadlines and hectic travel schedules. Before blindly sending a mailer (which I would never recommend), do some sleuthing on your targets (if you don’t already have an established relationship) through their social media channels or most recent articles to get perspective on their personal passion points.
“At the end of the day, something personalized will always win and encourage me to post, because I know a brand took the time to make this extra special for me.”
– John Philp Thompson, Men’s Lifestyle Influencer
“I appreciate when a brand knows which of their products I love best, and sneaks that into the mailer when I receive whatever new thing they are promoting.”
– Adam Hurly, Contributor, GQ
Perfect the Unboxing Moment
Your main goal should be to ensure your mailer leaves a positive sentiment for your contacts to personally enjoy, professionally write about, and maybe even showcase on their social channels. A perfect unboxing moment should tell a story throughout the process, revealing your message/key points without too many words or explanation.
“Something that displays thought and a true connection to the pitch always gets my attention. And I do a lot of social posts about mailers, so something that will make a nice photograph is always fun.”
– Brian Underwood, Oprah Magazine
Don’t Overdo It
We want to differentiate ourselves and our clients, but it’s important to remain tactical and ensure the product and its messaging remain the true hero. Forget the messy crinkle paper, the branded water bottles, pens and notepads. Trust me, your media friendlies have more of these than they know what to do with! And size matters—office space is precious, so be mindful that media most likely don’t want an oversized box crowding their already crowded desk.
“One small way to cut back would be to stop sending out mailers in gigantic cardboard boxes, filled with packing peanuts and sheets of plastic protecting whatever the product is. I don’t feel great when they’re packaged in dead trees and petroleum byproducts. And please don’t waste money on gimmicks like branded goods… t-shirts or mugs or totes. They sadly never get used!”
– Justin Fenner, Deputy Digital Editor, Robb Report
Don’t Sit Silent
Don’t wait for launch day to see if your media targets posted your mailer on their IG channels or wrote you a great feature. As professional communicators, it’s our job to ensure that it get in the right hands, at the right moment. Conduct preliminary outreach a few days prior to let them know a package is coming their way—it’s perfectly okay to tease a launch without spilling all the details! Your contacts will appreciate the heads-up.
“Please confirm that my address is correct every time. Even if it’s weeks later. I hate when publicists don’t confirm my availability to get a valuable parcel and it gets returned to them. Such a sad waste!”
– Adam Hurly, GQ
Don’t Cause a Commotion
Perhaps your client has told you that they want to create an iconic Instagram moment—but that doesn’t mean you need to create a spectacle. There are plenty of ways to send fun and engaging mailers, while eliminating tactics that may disrupt a workplace environment. Not only does it take away from your main objective, it can also result in a negative reaction.
“Not a fan of Autoplay audio speakers and video screens. We work in (generally) professional environments, and the worst thing in the world is to disrupt the peace and quiet of our offices by doing nothing more extraordinary than opening the mail.”
– Justin Fenner, Deputy Digital Editor, Robb Report