The landscape of blogger relations and product review campaigns is changing. Through our ongoing work with bloggers – from mommy bloggers to baking bloggers, fitness bloggers, weight loss bloggers, DIY bloggers, and bloggers with diabetes – we have seen a significant shift in how bloggers approach product reviews.
In 2008, we had bloggers lining up to test product. The idea of companies contacting bloggers to conduct reviews was a novelty. Bloggers received free product and often a prize pack for one lucky reader. The giveaways helped the bloggers secure blog traffic as well as Facebook followers and Twitter followers.
Bloggers embraced this. They loved the idea of testing new products or securing an advance review of a product that was not even available to the masses yet. Bloggers even started developing networks to help secure even more product for review.
Then companies started inviting bloggers to their headquarters to educate them, gain product feedback and product innovation ideas. Bloggers loved the special attention from free product to free trips!
Fast-forward to today and bloggers are becoming savvier. They worked diligently throughout the years – with the help of consumer product companies – to build their following. And just like other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube they are determining the best way to cash in. It is not only about free product samples anymore, but also about increasing cash flow.
In addition to more bloggers wanting to cash in on the opportunity, there has been an increase in corporations wanting bloggers to review product. Consider most bloggers are either raising children or hold full time jobs, there is only so much time available to review product and write blog posts.
With the demand becoming higher and higher, bloggers are now more selective with the products they review, and more and more are requiring cash payment for their time.
Yesterday we met as an agency to evaluate this shift and determine the best way to continue to secure quality blog reviews for our clients. We are taking a deeper dive into the subject.
In the upcoming month we will be contacting the bloggers themselves to learn more about their experience and challenges with product reviews. Stay turned for more on the changing landscape of blogger relations.
Intrigued, I visited yonanas.com and learned about a new kitchen gadget that can turn overripe bananas into delicious, healthy soft serve ice cream. This marketing seemed directed right at me. I’m often faced with the dilemma of what to do with the last banana in the bunch that I just don’t want to eat. And as someone who loves ice cream but hates how bad it is for me, I thought the marketing and product was a great idea. There was even a video on the website showing yonanas featured on The Today Show. A quick scan of the yonanas Facebook page reveals a few people who saw the stickers and plan on purchasing a machine.
While this is definitely an unorthodox marketing strategy, it was a critical reminder to think beyond the obvious marketing strategies. In the case of yonanas, using the banana peel as advertising space made absolute sense, and they used smart creative and a clear call to action to support their message. This is an excellent example of using an ad to engage rather than invade. Rather than being offended to find an ad on my banana, I actually appreciate how well the company understands their target audience.
For your next campaign, consider how can you reach your customers with an ad that makes sense in their daily lives. There is no limit or shortage of possible locations for your next ad.
Earlier this year we shared 8 Ways to Determine a Blog’s Value. Here are six tips to drive more influential blogger reviews:
1. Set expectations. You are sending a product sample to a blogger for review. Develop a personal letter that thanks the blogger for his or her interest and explains what you are asking them to do as part of the review process. Be clear and reasonable, and make sure the blogger understands you are a resource if they have questions or concerns about the product or review process.
2. Content is king. In addition to the letter, include as much information as possible about your product. Good bloggers will share key product features and benefits with readers as part of a product review. Make those details easily accessible and you will likely score a longer, more thorough product review.
3. Secure links to your website. Provide bloggers – in your letter and e-mails– with a specific link where readers can find more information about your product, and ask them to include that link as part of the review. Also, think about other ways to drive blog readers to your website. Provide a separate link for bloggers to share that leads to creative ways to use your product, or ask bloggers to direct readers to your website to search for specific information and then post a comment to the blog post about something interesting they learned.
4. Strategize to secure multiple posts. Think beyond the simple blog review post and consider ways to secure ongoing coverage with a particular blogger. Offer a product giveaway to one blog reader; this will often result in a second blog post about your product when the winner is announced. Ask the blogger to write a preview post setting up a problem and letting readers know they plan to try your product as a solution, then write a post about the product itself.
5. Use contests to secure prospect data. Instead of – or in addition to – promoting product giveaways on individual blogs, establish a larger contest that uses blogger product reviews as a vehicle for engaging a larger Internet audience. Ask multiple bloggers to announce a prize that requires consumers to provide contact information on your website. This is a great way to reach potential new customers and secure information for future communication.
6. Ask bloggers to get social. Simply ask bloggers to post a link to their product review on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. and ask permission to post links to their reviews through your own social media accounts. Both your product and the blog are exposed to larger audiences this way.
Let’s be honest, when most people think of successful consumer publicity, monthly glossies like Real Simple and Good Housekeeping are at the top of the wish list. However, securing coverage with the right online media sites can make just as big of impact for your brand and/or product and help support organic search engine optimization.
At a time when the number and size of traditional print consumer magazines is shrinking and competition for prime editorial coverage is fierce, the online magazine industry is growing and online publishers are learning to deliver content in a format familiar to magazine readers. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times highlights The Thriving (Online) Shelter Magazine Industry.
1. Focused target audience. As the New York Times article identifies, many online publications are focused on one particular niche or topic. For example, an online shelter magazine is entirely dedicated to design while a national glossy like Good Housekeeping may only have five pages worth of home décor and care tips. There is more opportunity for your company or product to be featured in an online publication dedicated entirely to one subject. Also, the publication’s audience is already interested in the topic, otherwise they wouldn’t be on the site.
2. Coverage appears sooner. Typical lead-time for a national consumer print publication is about 6 months. That means even if you start pitching today, the earliest you will see coverage is November. Online magazines and news sites operate on a much shorter editorial cycle, providing an opportunity to secure quick media coverage.
3. Coverage lives on. Once an article is published online, it exists on the Internet indefinitely, while print pubs are often tossed or recycled after reading. Online media coverage has the longer shelf life, and, if it is positive, serves as a testimonial for your brand for consumers conducting online research for years to come.
4. Drive consumers directly to a website. Often online media include a link directly to a product or service website. This can make measuring online media simple. With Google Analytics properly set up, it is easy to track how much direct traffic a particular article resulted in, and whether any of that traffic converted to sales.
5. Enhances organic search engine optimization: If a well-known media site, especially one with a good Google page rank, includes a direct link to your site, it will help to increase your organic search engine optimization. Media sites are seen as more credible sources by search engines than your average site.
6. Reach mobile consumers. As we shared in our recent post on QR Codes, 1 in 2 Americans will have a smartphone by this Christmas. Online media is easily accessible to smartphone users through apps and mobile sites.
7. Gain feedback. Some online publications – those not developed in e-reader formats – provide readers with the capability to post in response to articles. Marketers can gain feedback about their company/products and even respond to consumer comments/concerns/questions.
8. Powerful reach. A common misconception is that online publications do not reach nearly as many readers as traditional media. Whether it is the online counterpart of print media or an online-only publication, these sites reach large numbers of unique monthly visitors. Find the site’s online media kit or use free tools like compete.com or quantcast.com to identify an outlet’s monthly visitors.
9. Real-time sharing. If a reader thinks your product or story is useful or compelling, they can share a link to your story immediately. With print coverage, pass-along readership has value, but often takes longer to occur. With online coverage, your message has the potential to spread faster and bypass geographic barriers.
Need help launching a traditional and online publicity and media relations campaign? Contact me at kayleigh (at) sweeneypr (dot) com.
Media are always on the hunt for new products they know readers will love; and some will even refuse to cover anything other than brand new products from a strict “product review” perspective. But just because your company is not launching a new product this year is no excuse to not reach out to media and get your fair share of media coverage.
Following are six strategies to get coverage for your product, no matter how old or new it is.
1. Dial into a new or resurfacing trend. Do a bit of research and identify a hot trend consumer and media are already talking about. Find a way to tie your existing product into the story.
2. Take a seasonal approach. Do you notice a spike in sales or website traffic during a specific time of year? Pitch your product as a solution for a specific need during a holiday, special event or seasonal change. Not sure exactly where your product fits? Check out this detailed listing of daily, weekly and monthly holidays from national car care to grilled cheese month: http://www.brownielocks.com/
3. Use customer feedback to identify new uses for your product. Document customer testimonials and consider issuing a brief survey polling customers on their favorite way to use your product. Then, package the most unusual and ingenious uses into a pitch to educate media and readers about more ways they can put your product to work.
4. Share advice. Provide a list of tips and inside advice on a topic related to your brand or product, and ensure at least one tip offers your product as a solution. Have an all purpose cleaner? Provide tips for preventing and cleaning up the toughest household messes. The stranger and stickier, the better.
5. Align with a cause. If you have the budget to make a sizeable donation or produce specialty product packaging in support of a charitable cause, this is something you can promote to media. Otherwise, use your product as a means to bring attention to a cause you are passionate about. For example, a company that produces a yoga product can educate media on the health benefits of yoga and how easy it is for anyone to try.
6. Pose a challenge. Does your product always outperform a leading competitor, or does it just do something you have to see to believe? Get media excited by posing a challenge and offering them the chance to participate using your product – make sure you provide a product sample if they accept.
Need help securing media coverage for your company or products? Contact me at kayleigh at sweeneypr dot com or 440.333.0001 ext. 105.
Just this week we received the following email from a blogger requesting free product to conduct a product review for a client. I removed the name of the blogger as my intentions are not to call out this blogger specifically, but to show why the FTC’s new blogging regulations are a move in the right direction.
Without regulations or guidelines, the blogging community is simply a free for all or as some might call it “the wild wild west”. While I agree it would be better if the industry self regulated, that hasn’t happened and the government needed to step in to protect consumers and remove the curtain from corporations paying for blogger reviews
In the case of this blogger’s request, we declined because the blogger had very little credibility online and little traffic from what we could tell. It was apparent the blogger was simply looking for free product, but had nothing to give in return.
I’d like to introduce myself, my name is _________! The reason I’m writing is because we’d like to invite you to allow us to do a review for you on our site. There are some sites/blogs that do this, and a small percentage of those charge a fee, plus test product, plus a giveaway product. We do not charge a fee. It’s wonderful advertisement for you! We only ask that you send a test (review) product(s) and offer an item(s) (and/or an assortment) for giveaway that you will mail when the drawing has been concluded. Unless we discuss my shipping the item. The giveaway is not required, but usually is a great event. We’ll happily post pictures of your product provided by you, and link to your site, as well as carry your logo of choice, and size, reasonably sized please. If you don’t have a “button” we’d be happy to make one for you for an additional minimal charge, depending on what you would like. We will do our best to make sure you are pleased! We currently have giveaways on our site right now. Reviewed products, under the same circumstances of your own. No payment, only product. Which I might add I think is tax deductible under research purposes. Possibly even under other deductions. I’m not a tax whiz! Word of mouth advertisement is excellent, and honestly that’s how I make many of my purchases, is looking around to see who thinks what of said product. I would greatly enjoy welcoming you to our site for a review. We have had more than 2 of our articles featured on large blog networks. I’ll include a couple of links at the bottom of this email. We do work together, and we proof read for one another. We make a great team, and would like to welcome you to our sites if you’d like to be featured. Thanks for taking the time to read this, if you would please let me know a positive answer, I’d be very appreciative. Thank you