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Pitching for Product Reviews

January 16 2018

At first glance, a product review may just seem like a bunch of words coupled with images of a product, lavishing the product with half-hearted praise and encouraging readers to buy.

Is that always the case?

Reviewing is about making connections between images, text, and a reader, just like any other story. I enjoy reading reviews. Some articles come off as stiff and corporate, but the most engaging writers inject their own flair and wit into a review to engage their audience. Meanwhile, others go into depth about the pros and cons about a certain product, and highlight what is in it for you. Of course they are subjective, but it only goes to show how a product works differently for different people.

Here’s a quick guide on how as a PR agency, you can get the most mileage out of a product review.

1. Know your product

If you’re trying to sell a product, you have to know it. When pitching to a writer/publication about a product, rather than worrying about the quality of the article, ensure that the writer understands the nitty gritty of the product, which will guide and direct the way they tackle the article.

For example, in pitching CafeDirect Coffee reviews, we suggested a variety of things for reviewers to focus on. These included taste, the organic way the beans are made, CafeDirect being compliant with British Fairtrade criteria or even seemingly mundane things like how the cap of the bottle is easily opened, yet keeps the beans fresh.

2. Know your reviewer

The person writing the article is of course, important. They are likely the expert on a subject matter and know the scope of the competition within a certain product market. A good reviewer also knows how to organize information for easy reading, and is able to draw comparisons between the product being reviewed and its competition to give readers an idea of where the product stands. Having a following also helps.

One of my favorite reviewers (Rocket Jump Ninja on Youtube) for gamer tech and gadgets always uses the same formula for reviews, which instead of being repetitive, fleshes their product out against the competition. For products such as keyboards, he always compares the same metrics – the noise level of the keys clacking, the materials used, how accurately he can type, and how customizable the keyboard is – something important for the niche market of techies who want to have snazzy lights and unique paintjobs.

3. Make it personal

Which leads to this point – a reviewer knows what makes their audience tick. As a PR professional, you need to know what makes the reviewer tick. My friend, a fashionista, likes her dresses – just don’t expect a comprehensive, passionate review of a new pair of denim jeans. Even though these products may still be within the umbrella term ‘fashion’, apples and oranges are similarly considered ‘fruits’ – yet still different. If the reviewer feels for a certain product, they are likely to produce a more engaging article.

I worked with an artist who excelled at using acrylic paints. She was also proficient in certain other media, such as pencil sketches and chalk, commonly doing reviews of such products on Twitch. I tried getting her to do a review of oil paint – a new medium that she never really tried – and she was still able to create. However, her comments were limited to very generic terms such as “feels good to use”, and “colors look good”, as compared to more descriptive phrases such as “glides effortlessly across the canvas”, and “colors comparable to the quality of a film photograph” she used in other reviews. The oil paints just didn’t tick with her.

Make sure it ticks with them. That, in turn will make the review tick with the readers.

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