Getting your product reviewed in the press is one of the most competitive areas of PR. The media are interested in stories not products, so the main route for getting coverage for a newly launched product is through specific review pages or ‘tried and tested’ sections.
It is hard to weave in a reference to a new organic, ethically-sourced, mineral-base, UV reflective foundation (for example) through a general feature, no matter how gorgeous it is. Yet many PRs send press releases about new products to all types of journalists in the vague hope they may be able to do something with it.
Here are some PR pointers for sending press releases about the launch of new products.
Pinpoint review sections
Writing reviews is a very specific type of journalism and is usually done in-house by staff journalists, rather than by freelance journalists. You will find that magazines have more product review pages than newspapers. Reviews are regular slots with a dedicated team working on it. A publication doesn’t just produce one randomly. If you want someone to mention your new glow-in-the-dark school satchel, don’t just send it to any journalist who says they specialise in ‘parenting’. The chances are they cover features about parenting and can’t do anything with news of a new product.
Do your research: Magazines commonly feature product reviews, newspapers are less likely to
Send Samples at your Peril
As a journalist covering ‘fitness’, I often receive press releases for dietary supplements, yoga wear, electric magnetic muscle stimulators… If I were not so professional I could easily say ‘yes please’ to offer of samples, knowing full well I don’t have any scope to mention those products because generally, I write features. So if you do offer a press sample research the journalist to see what sort of thing they’ve covered before. If a journalist or editor asks for a sample don’t be afraid to ask if it is a commissioned piece and which page/section/publication it will be for.
Don’t Preach to the Converted
If a journalist has confirmed they are covering your product – hoorah! It means they already think it’s fab enough for a mention. Don’t continue to force-feed them with advertorial language about how brilliant it is. A journalist’s wording will read very differently to the frills of a press release. I have written review pieces for On Test in Metro and it is frustrating when I ask a technical question about how something works or what material it is made from and I receive paragraphs about how it is state of the art, the best in the market or perfect for XXXX. This just makes the journalist’s job more difficult because what they really want is facts to craft their own wording.
Avoid stylised images like this one: A simple shot showing your product in its raw form is best
For reviews, make sure you have high-res images ready of the product you are pitching. The photo should be as unstyled as possible. (i.e. Avoid images which includes a model using it, or with it strategically placed in front of a luscious ocean). Look at how different newspapers or magazines lay out their new product listings. They use simple images so the reader can see at a glance what it is. Often a publication will want to ‘cut out’ the image and float it on the page, in which case having the image on a plain white background is useful. Avoid sending an image showing several products in the same range because it’s most likely a publication will want to feature one specific item to fit their chosen theme, not a whole series of products from the same brand.
If you find these pitching tips useful, consider coming on one of our PR training workshops. We run courses on pitching to the print media and broadcast media. See our events list.
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