As a blogger with a good amount of followers (thank you all – I don’t want that to sound smug!) I often get approached by people to review their products or services. I have no problems doing reviews, whether it be for books, products or services – but I want to share with you a few of the rules *I* think are important when pitching your products to bloggers in order to get reviews.
1) Make sure it’s relevant
This is obvious to a lot of people, but not so obvious to sooooo many more! Think about it; I’m a Mum, I work in Internet Marketing and you could probably pick up from my various social media profiles that I love my Wii Fit, am trying to lose weight, live in France and love movies and jewellery (oh and handbags – I’m a woman after all!)
Therefore I’m happy to review baby stuff, marketing books, products and services, stuff to do with losing weight or keeping fit and products or services to do with films, and have done across various blogs and review sites (some as me, some anonymously as requested).
In my business life I promote websites in various ways – so ebooks and services related to marketing and online marketing are always good, online courses and training that i can recommend even better.
The PR company that approached me to review a football DVD could easily have found out I don’t like sport. The person who approached me to review his series of ebooks on the Law of Attraction should have known it doesn’t fit in with what I do (or what I believe, but each to his own on that score!).
I’m not saying that you have to know the ins and outs of the bloggers you’re asking to review things, but it does help to do a little research. If your product isn’t relevant, then even if the blogger DOES agree to review it, it’s probably pretty pointless as the people reading their blog probably won’t be interested too.
2) Ask nicely
This may seem obvious, but I get a lot of pitches telling me how good it would be for ME if I review this or that product. Let’s be honest here, if a blogger reviews your product, THEY are doing YOU a favour. Yes, they get a free product or service, but at the end of the day, the blogger is the one sharing details of your company with his / her audience – which could be considerably large. A personal review from someone a person ‘follows’ will often hold more sway than any PR piece.
Ask nicely, and don’t badger if the person doesn’t get back to you within an hour 🙂
*** EDITED TO ADD***
Thanks to Gareth for his comment below about how to approach a blogger. PR companies that simply send random Press Releases to bloggers are more than likely to be deleted before being read. You want a blogger to promote your product? Do your research, tell them why you want them to, ask them nicely and explain what you hope to achieve. Think personalised not generic. Yes, it’s harder work – but your client will thank you for it!
3) Establish where your blogger is based
If your product is physical, this could be quite important. I’m based in France, a fact that I don’t hide, and is easily found out by looking at my website and most of my social media profiles. Yet I get asked quite frequently to review something physical and when I mention I am in France, the PR company (it’s usually a PR company, sorry!) suddenly realises that having to send this item to France is a bit of a hassle and perhaps they’ll not bother.
So, be aware of costs if you have to ship something to someone (and bravo to HP who couriered a rather large printer to me via Arrow Light Haulage for me to review).
4) Accept that a review can be good or bad
This is the one that seems the hardest to get across. See, you’re not ‘paying’ (as some people see it when giving a product or service for review) for a good review, you’re offering your product or service in the hope that you’ll get a good review.
In order to remain true to their followers, most bloggers will give an honest review of what you have sent to them – this doesn’t always mean glowing praise.
Accept that a blogger will flag up the good and the bad of your product. Personally if a product is really bad then I will let the person know and ask them if they would rather I don’t review it – other bloggers would print the bad review as that is their agreement with you – an honest review.
If you want a 100% positive review, either have a 100% perfect product or service or send it to your mum to review 😉
5) Realise that full disclosure must be given
FTC guidelines for bloggers state that full disclosure should be given for gifts or items received for review. Most bloggers will abide by this and you should expect that they will say in their blog post that you gave them the product or service, for free, to review.
They’re not going to pretend it’s a service they’ve bought and are just sharing with their readers, or that this fab product was a gift from a friend – the majority of bloggers will either open or close their blog with the disclosure that they were given the item in return for a review. Don’t insult them by asking them to hide this fact 🙂
6) Agree the rules
If you want a review of a specific length, or a specific part or function of your item to be talked about, agree this in advance with your bloggers. It’s not the start of a beautiful friendship if your blogger lovingly crafts a 1000 word review and all you wanted was 400 words, or reviews your service in general but you wanted them to focus on a specific part.
Also, agree whether you get to approve the review before it goes live – although you won’t be able to change it, there may be some things that the blogger hasn’t understood, and you could straighten them out. And of course if it’s a bad review you could agree in advance that you get approval and can ditch it if it’s negative.
7) Send the product in good time (and, send the product!)
I get asked to review a fair amount of baby stuff for various sites, but as well as that, I obviously buy a fair amount of baby stuff for Baby O. In the case of actual items that I would have bought anyway, there’s nothing more annoying than being asked to review something, waiting for it to arrive, and… nothing. I’ve also been asked to review cameras, business card scanners (yeah, that was a while ago 🙂 ), graphics tablets, gardening stuff, some fitflops, and jewellery, all of which I was happy to review on various blogs (not this one, obviously as this one is more business focused) but never turned up. It’s not the blogger’s job to chase you for the item – if you change your mind, or can’t be bothered, be polite and let them know.
Incidentally this doesn’t just go for physical products, I’ve also been offered ebooks, subscription services, marketing services and more ‘non-physical’ products / services that haven’t materialised. I’m not moaning, because if they don’t get to me I don’t have to review them, but it is something to be aware of.
Whether you’re a PR company looking for ‘blogger outreach’ for your clients, or a company hoping to get reviews from bloggers, and whether it be a product or a service, the above points should help you.
And here’s the mini plug: If you’re looking for bloggers to review your products or services, no matter what they are, drop me a line as I can probably find you one or more to help; it’s something we’re doing a lot more of, so watch out for our Blogger Review matching service coming soon 🙂 firstname.lastname@example.org
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