While working your own buzz building public relations campaign, if your pitching to editors and producers goes as planned, they'll be interested in taking the "next step" with you on the road to landing press. If you're a product-based business that next step is sending them a sample. When you get the news that they'd love to see your product in person you often feel elation, followed by "what and how do I actually send them a sample"? Though each situation is of course, unique, here are some basics musts when sending a sample to a member of the media.
(Photo Credit: Fair Ivy)
- Be sure you're packaging it in a way that reflects your brand positively and professionally. This doesn't mean "spend a lot of money", but this does mean that when they open the box or envelope you ship it in, you want your product to be presented in a neat, clean and well-packaged way. This can mean a wrapping pieces in tissue paper, sending a nice bag or box, including a sticker with your logo or biz name on it, or in some cases, making sure food products are properly cooled and chilled upon arrival.
Sending a package alone isn't enough! Remember, there will be no one there to speak for you besides yourself, so you want to provide them with all the information they need about your product. Here are some basics you will want to include (other items are up to you, and often depend on who is getting your package):
- "Line Sheets"/Product Descriptions with Pricing: You want to be sure they have a sheet with images of each product offering, it's retail price, and details like what it's made out of materials wise, and so forth.
- A "One Sheet" on Your Product: I love to have everything they need to know about your product/brand on one piece of paper, so I print out one that has an image, plus the unique selling points and description of my products. If you are, say, a jewelry designer and have multiple products, speak to your whole collection when sharing those facts. Try to keep these facts in bullets so it's easy and not overwhelming to read.
- About Us for your Company: The press don't just want to know about the product, they want to know about your business. Include your "About Us" for your company, and if you have one, a quick biography about who you are as well. Remember that these items shouldn't be too lengthy or no one will read them in their entirety. A great trick to making sure these are well written and interesting is to ask someone else to give it a once over for you, with their less-emotionally-attached-to-your-business eye.
- *Press Release (Not Required): I include press release last because it is not a must. It is often included if you have already created one announcing the launch of your company or product only because it gives the media all the information they need about it should they want to write a story about you. That said, don't feel like you need to create one solely for the purpose of sending a sample, it's a waste of your most valuable resource, your time.
DON'T FORGET THESE ESSENTIALS:
- A Note from You: Even if you've been emailing regularly with the member of the press who requested the sample, you'll want to include a note (I recommend typing it and then signing it by hand) that briefly says hello again, mentions what you've included (so you both know what you have shipped to them) and includes your business card (I staple it to the letter). Both the letter and your card should include your contact details.
- Return Shipping Information: Most larger outlets (national magazines for instance) will return your product for you but others expect you to cover the cost. This is a case-by-case situation, but if you want to ensure that it's returned in timely manner or be sure that they are clear you expect it back, I recommend including the shipping postage/forms with your sample delivery so they can easily get it back to you.
- Inventory Sheet: If you are sending more than one piece of information or heck, even if you're only sending one, I recommend including an inventory sheet (which you can also file in your own records) to be sure everyone is clear regarding what was shipped. This also helps the media keep your samples straight. Remember, they often get several deliveries a day, so help them be sure they can return everything you've sent them in an organized manner.
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