I have coordinated with a blogger who would like to test and review my product. What should I include in the package when I ship a sample?
By Kayleigh Fitch
Before committing to sending a free sample to a blogger, ensure the blogger reaches a target audience that will be beneficial to promoting your product. Check out our blog post Bloggers Going Bonkers for Product Samples to help you determine if the blog is a good fit.
Once you decide to move forward with the product review, following are the items you should include in the package along with your product sample.
1. Personal Letter – Address the blogger by name and thank them for his/her interest in your product. Restate your agreement, including the agreed upon deadline for posting the review, and provide contact information where the blogger can reach you with questions. Most importantly, include a friendly reminder that the blogger is required to disclose your product was provided for free in their review. This is mandated by the new FTC guidelines. Ultimately, you are legally responsible for ensuring the blogger makes a disclosure. Read our post on The Impact of FTC Guidelines Have on Blogger Relations for more details.
2. Instructions – Regardless of how simple it may seem to use your product, do not leave anything open for interpretation. Include a separate document that details how to use your product along with extra tips and hints for achieving the best results.
3. Product Information – Provide a list of features and benefits your product provides that will alert the blogger on what results to look for during the testing process and will help communicate key messages to readers.
4. Testing Tools – Your product may require additional equipment in order for the blogger to properly test it and achieve maximum results. Make the testing process easy by including everything he/she will need within reason. For example, include a high quality cloth or sponge to test cleaning products or a paintbrush to test varnish.
5. Photos/Video – Be sure to provide or guide the blogger to a place on your website where he/she can download photos and videos. Bloggers love including product photos and/or videos. Encourage them to shoot their own video or take their own photos. Before and after shots/video can be very powerful.
6. Bubble Wrap – Okay this one may seem silly, but it would provide a poor impression if a blogger were to open your package only to find a damaged product inside. Don’t sabotage the review before the blogger even gets the product; take the time to pack your product carefully.
Need help implementing a blogger campaign? Contact me at kayleigh at sweeneypr dot com or 440.333.0001 ext. 105.
Our company is getting 4-5 requests a week from bloggers for product samples to test and a second product for a giveaway. Should I be sending all these bloggers my product? We are a small business and have to be selective who we send product samples to.
By Jennifer Manocchio
The good news is that if you have bloggers coming to you requesting product samples, you have already generated some awareness in the marketplace. We have typically seen an increase in blogger product requests after media exposure or a targeted blogger campaign.
You should definitely be selective with blogger samples. According to a Technorati study, the average blog has only 6 readers! Yes… 6 readers! Therefore, it is important that you research each blog prior to sending product samples. You certainly want to be sending product to a blog that reaches your target audience, is credible and has a significant number of readers to make the largest impact possible.
Following is how we evaluate blogs to determine the credibility, reach and impact.
1. Review the blog: Ensure the content is relevant and tasteful. Take a look at how the blogger conducts product reviews. This will help you determine what to expect and to ask for any alterations you see necessary (including a link to your web site, retail locations, etc.). Also, some blogs list the number of views or followers. This will give you a good indication of reach.
2. Technorati: Visit Technorati and conduct a search on the blog to determine the blog’s authority. The authority is simply the number of other web sites linking to that blog. The more web sites linking to the blog, the more credible you can consider the blog.
3. Track Unique Monthly Visitors: Free tools like Compete and Quantcast can provide estimates for the number of unique visitors a blog receives each month. The only caveat to sites like these is the free versions do not provide estimates for blogs hosted by WordPress or Blogspot.
4. Other Social Media Sites: Conduct a general Google search on the blog or blogger to determine what other social media sites he or she is involved in. If he or she uses Twitter, Facebook, etc. and has a good amount of followers, that can certainly help increase the reach of your product/brand.
You can usually see immediately if the blogger posts reviews on other social media sites. If not, simply ask if that is possible as part of the product review.
5. Google Page Rank: Determine the page rank using the Google Page Ranking tool. A higher page rank will help influence organic search engine optimization.
Also, if you are short on product samples, consider declining the product for the contest or providing a discount or coupon for the blog readers instead. While the product giveaway will likely increase exposure, bloggers will still consider covering a product without a giveaway.
Need help sorting through all the blogger requests or want to launch a strategic blogger relations campaign to increase brand awareness, increase relationships and increase sales, contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.
We have developed 300 new product sample kits for media. The kits feature everything the media needs to test the new product. How should we go about distributing the product kits?
By Jennifer Manocchio
Since you have invested in developing these product review kits, you want to ensure they will have the greatest impact among both media and consumers. In order to do that, first determine what markets you want to target.
If the product is only available in select markets, start by targeting media in these markets. The media is more likely to write about product available at their local stores. If media decide the product is worth covering, it can help drive retail sales. Additionally, retail buyers like to see that you are supporting product sales in their markets.
Also, consider any long-lead consumer and trade magazines. If you know your product will be available nationally in the near future or if it is available online, national media will consider testing or writing about your product. It could take up to 6 months for a national magazine to cover the product; therefore, start that process as soon as possible.
Once you determine the markets, the second step is determining what media within those markets to target. Certainly you’ll want to start with media that will be interested in the product and media that will reach as much of your target audience as possible.
While it may seem obvious to start with the newspapers, magazines, blogs, web sites, television and radio stations that reach the most people, don’t forget about niche media. For example, consider you are promoting a DIY product. While regional home magazines might have a lower circulation than a daily paper, don’t overlook those publications because the majority of the people reading a regional home magazine are likely your target audience.
After you have developed your target media list, start by contacting the media (by phone, email or both) and determining their interest in receiving a product sample kit. We highly discourage sending unsolicited product samples because it can be a big waste of time and money. Product samples could be shipped back to you or media could simply toss your package in the garbage. While it will take more time to contact the media, the results will be better.
Following product distribution, contact the media again to ensure they received the materials and to answer any questions they may have. This will also give you an opportunity to gauge the interest of the reporter and whether he or she plans on writing a story.
Distributing product samples to the media is a process and requires time and attention. However, if you are taking the time and money to develop product review kits, it is definitely worth the investment to ensure you are targeting the correct media and the media has confirmed they want to test your product.
Launching a new product and want media coverage? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.