Samples: Do Blogs and Websites Send Them Back?


Over the years, we've noticed that with the growing number of blogs, there is growing number of product and sample requests. Sometimes the blogger declares that they need to review your product in order to feature it. Sometimes they wil use it, so can't (or won't) return it. Sometimes it seems, these blogs just exist to get free stuff. In fact, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has recently amended its rules to include bloggers as media who need to include a disclaimer if they received free stuff for a review. So how can you tell who is legit, and what to expect from them? Who pays for sending the samples over and back to you again? Designer James Perse started charging the press for samples. So where do we stand now? We interviewed our own PR Director and Co-Founder Sabina Ptacin to get her take.

Sabina PtacinSo the deal is usually this: magazines and television programs will ask you to “send  XYZ over”. Because we are in a recession and because media is in a pinch, and because they are the power players, our PR team will 7 times out of 10 do the delivery (or clients do) themselves. This is expense #1 people should be aware of. If you are in NYC you can have an intern (or yourself) deliver it, or pay for a messenger. You can ask a magazine to pick up, but if they don’t volunteer it don’t be needy, just do it.  Often they WILL send back on their dime though. (*Note: make sure you give them your correct return info.)

In terms of sending samples, if it is make-up, food, a book, etc. don’t expect it back. If it is something someone has to use to experience consider that as well.  If it is apparel, accessories, baby toys, or other physical products and you are sending them to a magazine, and THEY request it, they should be returning it. You can even double check and make sure they aware you have limited samples and this is a returnable sample.
National television rarely returns unless it’s something expensive or one of a kind. Why? Because they have too much going on. With bloggers, it depends. Some see products as currency for reviews, and sometimes that’s fair enough if it’s a good blog. Other times, I let them know “this has to be returned”. If they say no, decide on your ROI (return on investment) and if it’s worth it to your brand before you send.
PS: The Oprah Winfrey Show ALWAYS returns my products!  Even after a YEAR.
PPS: If you send a sample without them asking for it, no matter who they are, don’t expect it back.

If bloggers want to be treated as magazines, will they return product that they request for reviews?
How can you tell if a blogger requesting your product is legit, and what should you expect from them? Who pays for sending the samples over to them, and back to you again? How does it work in the magazine world, and does the same apply to blogs? Designer James Perse started charging the press for samples. So where do we stand now?