Samples: To Send or Not to Send?


Short Answer:  No.

Long Answer: 
You should not send SOME unsolicited material to anyone in media, whether they be an editor, producer, or reporter for multiple reasons, there are others that one can send to the media and we will discuss those next.

What Not To Send:  Do not send expensive items that you ever expect to get back, do not send books, do not send large or bulky items, do not send anything one-of-a-kind, do not send anything in general, no matter the price point, that you ever expect to get back.  Do not send reels or press kit material that you want to have sent back to you - it will likely disappear.  Producers and editors are getting package upon package of product and media kit upon media kit every hour of the day.  More likely than not yours will never actually cross the desk of that elusive executive producer unless they have requested it personally.  If they do ask you to send something to them they will have you write : requested material on the package, or they will be expecting it, and will pull it from the mail pile, leaving the unrequested items to pile up.

For these reasons and many more (greedy interns, producers who give their family extra product, unwanted junk piling up everywhere) do not send your products if you ever want to see them again.  If you have a low cost item that you do not mind never getting back, feel free to send it, but know that if a producer or editor didn't request it, unless it blows them away or works into an upcoming segment they will not be likely to get back in touch with you.

When To Send Samples or Product:  If you are pitching properly and following an organized campaign plan, you will be sending quality pitches out to several editors and producers who cover your beat or market.  When they REQUEST a sample then you send one.  If you are impatient and want to move the process along you can email and ask if they would like to see one of your bags/yoga mats/soaps/guitars in person.  Once they agree and you ask them where to send it, how it should be addressed, and so forth, should you proceed with sending a sample.  It's also important to confirm that it is a "returnable sample" meaning that they can't keep it, unless your product is low cost enough to give away to several people.

Once you send out your sample or product be sure to log it in a sample tracking sheet if you are expecting it back so you can recall where it went, when, and who you shipped it to.  After a month if you have not heard back follow up to see if you can get the editor any more information about it, and kindly reminding them they have it by asking "how it's working out" for them.