Saturday, March 10, 2012

Giddy Kipper - Getting Press coverage

Giddy Kipper 

This is a brilliant blog from Heidi, so good in fact that I am just going to hand straight over to her! I do want to thank Heidi though. She has put the most amazing piece of writing together for us all. Not only has she let us in on some of her own business secrets, she has also interviewed some very influential magazine editors on our behalf. She really has gone all out to put this piece together. THANK YOU SO MUCH Heidi!!!

so who is Giddy Kipper? 

Heidi tells her own story well, but before I hand over to the lady herself, I would just like to blow Giddy Kippers trumpet a little and list their achievements:
  • Winner in the 2012 Wedding Ideas Awards in category Best Special Touches
  • Highly Commended in the 2011 Wedding Ideas Awards in category Best Special Touches
  • Shortlisted for Creative Business of the Year in 2011 Make Awards
  • Finalist in Best Customer Service category of the 2011 Make Awards

over to you Heidi.............

I was so pleased be asked to write a guest post for Ali’s blog as I had recently seen the great posts by Becky (dots and spots) and Jane (Snapdragon) – two lovely small & successful businesses quite like our own.

Giddy Kipper was launched at The Country Living Spring Fair in 2004 but previous to this we had done a lot of ‘legwork’ so to speak starting out at craft markets and fairs nationwide. They were hard work and not always a success but we tried to treat these as an advertising tool…..difficult though when you have bills to pay! There were always unforeseen circumstances to contend with at fairs and we had our fair share of bad luck with the weather especially as most were held in marquees.
(you can read more about ‘how it all began’ here:

A feature in Inspirations magazine and Me and Steve (pic bottom) looking startled at a local Craft Fair 

So we made a big decision – it was time to take the plunge and attend a big fair in London if we were going to move the business forward. We knew that if we could just get our products seen they would sell. Thankfully this expensive gamble paid off and with our new business name we launched Giddy Kipper.

Features in Junior, Ideal Home and Period Living magazines

The show was a huge success and we even ended up on the front page of The Daily Apple newspaper in Hong Kong! We made lots of contacts at that first show – magazines were interested in our products and this was a turning point for us in terms of promotion. We knew that paid advertising in magazines was beyond our budget at the time so we set out on our own (free) PR campaign. It was totally new to us and we had no idea about PR at the time just the common sense to see that magazines needed to fill their pages every month!    

We did our research... 

I happen to love magazines so this was no chore for me – and found the contacts in the magazines relevant to our products. Then we put our press release together including a short piece about the business lots of photos of our work and the all-important contact details. Our ham-fisted attempts actually worked! We have since been featured in the majority of UK magazines including: Coast, Country Living, Ideal HomePeriod LivingBBC Homes & AntiquesPeriod Home, Wedding Ideas, Perfect Wedding, You & Your WeddingThe Daily ExpressThe Daily MailCountry Homes & Interiors… to name but a few! 

We have also recently been featured in The Craftseller magazine in the article ‘A Guide To’ (chosen from almost 2000 sellers now on the site!) and we are also going to be in print as a case study in PR for Small Business in a booby Debbie Leven later this year. Our press coverage has boosted our profile and customer base and has led to being shortlisted for Make Awards for Best Customer Service and Creative Business of the Year and winning the Best Special Touches category at The Wedding Ideas Awards 2012

 Article in Craftseller magazine and proudly showing off our Wedding Ideas award

Not bad for a business that started in my Dad’s shed!

So how did we get into these magazines? Well there was some trial and error at first and not every attempt has been successful but we were determined to get noticed so we persevered. Sometimes being featured or not depends on factors such as time of year or type of article or simply just missing out on a deadline.
We have been very lucky to work with some fabulous journalists over the years and we remain in touch with a number of them who we still send our press releases to. Many journalists move around magazine titles and it can be a job to keep up at times but it is worth the effort to stay in the know! I have recently been in touch with some wonderful such people who were so kind and willing to share their ‘insider’ knowledge with me. I thought it would be extremely useful to see from their point of view as they are sent hundreds of press releases and to see how and why certain products are selected.

Meet the experts…

Ellie Tennant is a freelance interiors journalist, blogger and stylist. She started her career as Style Assistant for House Beautiful magazine before moving to Ideal Home where she was Deputy Shopping Editor. While in-house, Ellie wrote the award-winning HomeShoppingSpy blog, which listed in The Times as one of the top 50 design blogs in the world. She left to go freelance last autumn and her work has since been published in a range of print and online publications including Country Homes & InteriorsLivingEtcApartment Therapy and Style At Home. She delivers lectures about social media and has styled photo shoots for commercial and editorial clientsEllie’s website and new blog can be found at

Sophie Warren-Smith is an interior stylist and journalist whose career started 12 years ago at Woman & Home magazine, and who now works regularly for magazines that include Style at Home, GoodHomes, Real Homes, Ideal Home & Period Homes & Interiors. Sophie’s blog ‘all things beautiful, useful & stylish’ can be found at

Charlotte Duckworth is a freelance journalist, PR consultant and copywriter, specialising in interiors and lifestyle. Her work on consumer magazines and websites spans 10 years and includes features in GoodHomes, Kitchens Bedrooms and Bathrooms, Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, and handbag.comCharlotte’s blog can be found at

Suzi Dixon is a journalist at The Telegraph past and present include Western Daily Press, Beauty, P3, Women's Fitness, Perfect Wedding, Brand New You, Your Hair & More

Top Tips from the people in the know….

Getting the timing right…

Ellie says “Be aware of lead times. In the UK, monthly consumer magazines start compiling Christmas issues in July, so if you send out a press release about your Christmas products in September, you’ll have missed the boat. That said, while newspapers and weekly magazines have much shorter lead times, online publishers probably don’t have much lead time at all. So make sure you time your media releases appropriately”
Charlotte also points out “Magazines plan features around four-five months in advance, plus of course 'December' issues come out at the beginning of November etc, so you need to be talking Christmas with them in July. Websites obviously have shorter lead times, but do still have schedules - so try to find out what these are and plan your PR accordingly”
Timing really is everything. Think ahead and get your press releases sent to the relevant publications in plenty of time

Make the right contacts…

Ellie stresses the importance of research “Target a specific journalist. Buy a copy of the magazine or paper and make a list of who writes the pages you want to get your products on. Contact details for all staff journalists are usually listed in the publication somewhere, or you can telephone the office number to find out who’s best to contact. Send emails to individuals rather than to general addresses and, for posted press releases, address envelopes with correctly spelt names and up-to-date job titles. It doesn’t hurt to send a physical, printed press release as well as emailing a digital version. Different journalists work in different ways and you want to cover all bases. Make sure you put the correct name and magazine title in the email content if you are doing lots of copying and pasting”
Making the best of your press release…

Suzi explains “The main point I make in workshops is to let small businesses know that simply emailing a journalist is not sufficient to guarantee catching their attention. Many journalists like me receive hundreds of emails a day, to the point that we simply cannot open all of them - even if we do, a quick skim-read is all time allows if we do not know the recipient”

So how do you make your press releases work for you?

Ellie:  “Journalists have hundreds of emails to wade through every day, so limit yourself to a few lines introducing your company and what your newest or best-selling products are. Attach a few low-resolution images, but don’t include large high-resolution image files at this stage, as it clogs up the recipient’s inbox and your message could even go straight to their junk mail folder if it’s too large. The same goes for a printed press release. A journalist just wants to know the basic facts and to see a few examples of what you sell. Remember to include your contact information clearly”

Charlotte : “When you send out press releases, only include the low-res versions of images or your emails will be too big to get through. Put images and info in the body of the email, not in an attachment, because attachments rarely get opened!”

Sophie : “ I get sent loads!!  Make the subject interesting or it may not even get opened!! Keep it short and sweet, it’s the images that will catch the eye and make sure you have product info/contact numbers/twitter info on it too”

From my own point of view we have always sent lo-res images and then waited to see if a journalist is interested in any we have sent. Then it’s time to get out the big guns and send those lovely large high-res files for publication.

Make sure you are being relevant…

Charlotte: “Target the right publications. Don't send your cupcake press release to a magazine that never features food. So much of the stuff I receive is totally irrelevant! Also be aware of price points and the different audiences for magazines - ie, high-end versus mass-market. Don't send super expensive products to magazines aimed at a mass-market audience, or really contemporary stuff to a magazine with a traditional bent.”

Images images images!

Ellie: “Images are crucial.…most journalists will just require a high resolution ‘cut-out’ image of a product. You may not want to show blank background images in your shop, but take the trouble to shoot every item you sell individually on a white background (a plain, flat bed sheet or a big white piece of paper does the trick!) with a good quality digital camera and keep these simple ‘cut-out’ images to hand somewhere so you can email them across quickly if a journalist requests one. If you’re really tech-savvy you could cut the items out yourself using Photoshop or similar, but most publishing companies just need a simple image with no background interference for them to cut out professionally at their end. Often, journalists are working to a tight deadline and won’t have time to call in a sample from you and shoot it themselves on a white background in a studio, so being prepared with these high-resolution cut-out images is a must. Make it clear on your press release that you can supply high-resolution (at least 300 dots per inch or DPI) cut-out images as well as high resolution versions of the pretty lifestyle images”

If you can afford to get some professional shots it may be worth the expense as Charlotte points out : “ Images are everything. Make sure you get all your products shot professionally and have images on hand to send journalists straight away. Obviously make sure they are high res. If possible, get both lifestyle (your products within a 'setting') and cut-out (the product on a white background) photos done. Style the lifestyle ones tastefully - use a professional stylist or friend with an artistic eye! If your images are horrible, it doesn't matter how great your products are, they won't get used”

Styled shots: Images courtesy of Emma Case (
and Eddie Judd (

Sophie feels strongly about the photos she receives “My biggest bug bear is images, and this goes for any size company! You'd be amazed at which major ones can't supply us with good high res images and therefore don't get used. If you can supply good, clear cut out images of the majority of your products then automatically you have a better chance of getting some press. Images need to be 300 dpi and measure at least 10 x 10cm. The John Lewis website is a good example of how to shoot cut outs - cushions straight on, folded throws etc.
Lifestyle images also have their place, but a stylist may need to help with this for the best results”

cut out images

We have built up a folder of ‘cut-out’ images and add to this as we go along so that we have images to hand to email off straightaway. I taught myself Photoshop and can now cut out all of our images when necessary. Definitely worth investing in photo editing software – saves a lot of expense in the long run.

Make yourself available…

Ellie: “Make sure that you’re available to answer emails and take phone calls every day. A journalist on a deadline isn’t going to have time to call you several times – they will simply find another product from another stockist. Similarly, if a journalist wants to borrow a product for a photo shoot, make it as easy as possible. Send it first class or next day delivery, and enclose a label with the return address written clearly on it.”

Charlotte: “Response times are also really important. Try to have someone around 9-6 to answer journalist's queries. I know it's hard if you're a small business but if you don't answer the phone or an email within the same day, you probably won't get used because the journo will go to someone else..”

Sophie: “often when I'm looking for images - which is the majority of the time - I can also be up against a deadline so response time is what makes me more likely to use a company - if I don't get one within 24 hours and/or the image is lo-res than I will look elsewhere.”

Don’t forget to keep checking your emails, voicemails and phone messages throughout your working day – you never know when an opportunity might arise!


Ellie says “Keep journalists informed regularly, but don’t bombard them every week or every time you introduce a new product to your shop. Post out press releases and CDs of images, email newsletters or releases”

Charlotte offers good advice “Don't phone journalists directly to try to cold sell your products. It's really annoying. When I worked in-house my phone rang non-stop and if I answered every call I would never have got any work done. Email and post are much better methods of communication”

Sophie also says that sometimes even your house can help you get some coverage “if you have a lovely home then that is another way to get free press plus beautiful shots of your house” Please feel free to contact Sophie if you think your house is up to scratch!

Social networking...

Aside from magazine coverage social networking now has it’s own place in small business promotion. Twitter and Facebook are now essential free PR tools for small business. We use Twitter everyday – it is one of the best free PR tools around!  I do all of the tweeting for the business but it’s not all promotion as this can really put people off.  It’s called ‘social’ networking for a reason – you have to chat to people and take an interest in others”

We’ve had work come directly through Twitter and Facebook, been asked to be involved in a number of photoshoots, been featured on blogs and have also been picked as one of *Theo Paphitis’ #sbs winners – Theo picks just 6 favourite businesses each Sunday evening (sbs stands for Small Business Sunday) and retweets them to all of his followers…he currently has over 220,000!! Promotion like this is priceless to small businesses and it’s all free! Theo is even throwing a party for all the winners at the end of March…and we’re hoping to meet the man himself!
*Read more about Dragon Theo Paphitis here

Tweet tweet!

Love this idea from Ellie “Create a list of journalists on Twitter and study their tweets each day to see what they’re looking for or working on. Make the most of networking events and make as many contacts as possible. Social media can be hard work, but it opens up a whole new way to contact people and get their attention. Use Twitter to network as well as to send out links to your site”

And although Sophie isn’t a fan of Facebook “I really can't see how it can generate as much interest as twitter can” but adds “am willing to be proved wrong!” She goes on to say “However, twitter is great and I have had work from it. It's a much better support of smaller companies, and enables them to contact the mags in a way that a few years ago wouldn't have been possible” 

Another good tip from Suzi “I recommend contacting journalists on Twitter, Facebook, interacting with them, following them on Pinterest - make them aware of you and your brand without the hard sell. Don't push your products on them - instead, find out what features they are working on and find a suitable slot for you. Be helpful, journalists do have a lot of space to fill and not much time to do it! Quality products secure quality coverage, it is often a case of time and patience.

And finally….

The truth is” Charlotte explains “that a lot of it is common sense, and actually, there's no surefire way to get your products featured…magazines all have very different criteria”

But don’t ever give up hope!
We’ve persevered and have had our products featured regularly. As Sophie says “all you smaller companies out there - there has never been a better time for you all to get press - the big companies need a run for their money so don't feel threatened by them in anyway as if you do the above you have just as much chance to get press coverage as they do!!”

A huge thank you to Ellie, Charlotte, Sophie and Suzi for their fabulous input and for being so generous with their time and expertise.

Thanks also to Ali for giving me the opportunity to write this post!
Our case study will be published in ‘PR for Small Business’ by Debbie Leven later this year

Read more about Giddy Kipper and Heidi’s giddy life at


thank you Heidi.....

What an amazing blog. I'm sure Heidi would LOVE some feedback as to what you thought of all this information that she has gathered for us. Please post all you comments below. Writing blogs is hard work and very time consuming. Trust me, the odd comment really does make it all worth while :)

Don't forget. Next week we have Poppy Treffry guest blogging for us (I'm so tired, that I almost wrote gusset blogging!!) and the Cheeky Chats will be back, with a brand new look, over on tickle the imagination's page on Tuesday 20th March, 8pm. Tanya, from tickle and I have now collaborated and all the Chats will now be held on her page. Very exciting stuff! 

Read last weeks Cheeky Blog about getting into magazines with guest bloggers tickle the imagination and Thea from Thea and Sami here

You can read more about what's new in Cheeky Pickle land here

If you enjoyed this blog, you may be interested in reading all of the Cheeky BLOGS

See you then!



  1. A brilliant article Heidi! You & Steve have built up your fantastic business through determination and hard work with a whole lot of energy and fun Ginny xxx

  2. Super informative and helpful. Anyone who works for themselves and in similar situation should read and take note. How lovely that you are generous enough to share your tips and tricks. x

  3. Rosemary's rag rugsMarch 11, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Many thanks for all the info in this article. I'm looking at contacting several magazines to get some coverage for our upcoming Open Studios in July. I now realise I may have left it too late for some but this has given me the knowledge and confidence to approach the press.
    And thank you to Ali for coming up with the idea for all these helpful articles.xx

  4. Thank you so much for such generous information, and congratulations on your successful business. I'm at the just starting point, so it's interesting to see how you started. I will definitely bookmark your information which will be really helpful in the future. Thankyou again and good luck in your future ventures.

  5. Excellent guest blog Heidi, very helpful for the tadpole business such as myself,great to hear the journalists point of view on what they are looking for, also that we have a chance too, will definitely be following this up.

  6. We've been lucky enough to have had products featured in magazines and newspapers but there is always so much more to learn! Thank you for sharing. x

  7. Thanks for all your lovely comments :) Ali xx

  8. What a brilliant article. Good PR makes such a difference in promoting a business. It's hard work but if done well, the rewards can be massive.

  9. A fab read, thanks to all! x

  10. Well done H, very generous and thorough. x G

  11. Thanks for all your comments. It's very much appreciated x

  12. Thank you so much Heidi for your generosity in sharing your tips, advice an contact information. Ali - once again than you. Helen

  13. Thanks so much for all the lovely feedback - I'm so pleased that the information has been helpful. I know how difficult it can be to get your products seen.
    Thanks also to Ali for asking me to write this
    Heidi (Giddy Kipper) xx

  14. Really great advice will try and follow your words of wisdom!