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When it comes to getting reviews from the media, I like to take the approach of 'you make your own luck'.
It’s very easy to send press releases to a selection of media publications, sit back and forget about it, but like any form of outreach, without a targeted approach the results will be poor.
The quality and quantity of your media reviews is tied directly to the amount of effort that is put in, and the amount of research that is done before you hit send on an email.
Working as both a blogger who reviews products, and as a marketer who is trying to get reviews, I’ve compiled 20 solutions based on my own experience.
So without further ado, let’s make some luck.
1. Reviews with competitions
When Mike Stelzner wanted to promote his new book he offered 50 bloggers a free copy of it to review and another one each for them to give away.
He got coverage for this giveaway, then for the reviews, and again in each competition on each site. Three sets of coverage in one go.
2. PR wire services
PR services like Gorkana let you subscribe to requests from journalists. Often this includes requests for products to review, and in the last week I’ve seen requests for video games, hotel stays, restaurants, gadgets, home décor and fitness products.
Monitoring these services helps you identify journalists who have specific needs in your niche.
Help a Reporter Out is the US equivalent of Gorkana (and it’s free!) so this should be used as another PR wire service.
They don’t allow journalists to ask for products to review (due to a few bad experiences) but by helping journalists with news requests they will keep you in mind for similar coverage that can lead to reviews.
4. Twitter hashtags
The two Twitter hashtags #journorequest and #journalistrequest have journalists asking questions. This also includes calls for products to review.
To cut down on wasted time, set up a filter (with Tweetdeck or Hootsuite) that includes the hashtag and a keyword for your niche.
5. Twitter friendships
Using followerwonk.com you can search Twitter bios to identify people who talk about things within your niche. When you find relevant people, add them to a list on Twitter and interact with them.
Over time you can introduce your product and ask for a review.
6. Press areas
Every website should have a press area, which lists a PR contact, so it’s really easy for people to get in touch. I regularly contact companies asking to review their products on my blog, and it’s so much easier for me as a blogger if they have a press area.
Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you and always respond.
7. Have a process
I’ve asked some companies for products to review before and found that although they want a review they take weeks to respond or to send products out. If I had a specific deadline this is very frustrating and makes me less likely to contact them again.
If you can’t react quickly you might miss a core opportunity, so put a process in place today so you can capitalise on reviews.
8. Consider all possibilities
The requirements of the media change for each publication. So while one may be able to return products, another may not. Just because a blogger can’t return your product, it doesn’t mean you should turn down the review.
If they are offering a link to your website, or they can show the product to a large number of people, then the value of this may be more than the cost for you to give a product away.
9. Exclusive blogger gifts
To encourage bloggers to talk about your product, try to make them feel special. To promote the movie Coraline, the producers sent out 50 boxes of movie props to influential bloggers, which helped them get high profile exposure. (More reading).
10. Site search
A sure-fire way to annoy the media is to ask for a review from websites that have never reviewed anything before and who never will.
So when you have a prospective website use their site search and simply look for the word “review”. If they don’t have a searchbox then search Google for “site:http://www.koozai.com review” and replace the URL with the site you want to explore.
11. Google search
The simplest way to find relevant sources is to use Google and look for sites that have previously reviewed products in your market. So a simple search like “product niche + review” can be very effective.
It also means that when you email the blog owner you can reference the review you found them for. This makes for a more natural conversation and is a better option than a generic “one size fits all” email.
12. Competitor copying
Likewise, you can use Google to find reviews of competitor products, or a similar product to your own. Search for “competitor product + review” and you’ll find people that already like to review products in your niche that you can contact.
Create an email that explains how your product is better or different to the competitor product, and use this for a very strong outreach proposition.
13. Google blog / news search
A standard Google search can find you a lot, but for really targeted prospect finding I prefer using Google Blog search and Google News search. You can access these search filters on the left hand side of Google after performing a search.
Rather than sifting through 208 million results for “Movie review” you have just “7920” on a news search. Much more manageable, and you can add extra keywords for a more specific search.
To analyse several blogs at once, Technorati is a great directory. You can search blog posts from over one million blogs, helping you to find relevant media sites to contact.
A directory category system also lets you find blogs by sub categories, creating a handy list that you can use.
15. 'Sponsor' a review
If you’d rather spend money on someone else finding the right prospects for you, Sponsored Reviews will find bloggers to cover your products as part of their paid service.
The bloggers earn money for writing the review, which gives them an incentive to do so, and it’s an honest process with bloggers allowed to talk fairly about your products, keeping everything nice and ethical.
16. 'In the media' page
Every time we get a mention in the media at Koozai, we add it to a list on our website and we also link to the coverage.
Over time this has become an excellent resource for us, as when asking for press coverage we can point prospects to the ‘In the Media’ page and they can see that which publications have talked about us.
It also means that bloggers know they’ll get a link in return for coverage.
17. Get your design reviewed
Alongside getting your product reviewed, you can also contact design websites and ask them to review your website design.
We’ve also seen success by sending images of clients products that are taken in an artistic way and getting these featured on design blogs.
18. Your customer service is under review
The most likely chance of someone writing about you online, without any input on your part, is a review of your customer service. Especially if they’ve had a bad experience.
So ensure your customer service is up to scratch as this type of review can really hurt. If your team are always helpful, bloggers may even review the positive experience that they’ve had.
19. PR Events
If your product would benefit from a demonstration, then invite a selected group of the media to see the product and let them get an exclusive look. This helps them feel valued, and allows you to give them a hands on experience.
However, you must be clear that they are being invited to test a product, otherwise this can lead to a backlash if bloggers are deceived into attending.
20. Look offline
Lots of print publications have websites that tend to have high numbers of visitors and links. To identify these places, use the list in the Writers Handbook (for a cheap solution), or in BRAD insights if you have more money to invest.
Both sources give you direct contact details for editors and key people who can get your product reviewed.