Everything You Need to Know Before Sending Product Samples to Journalists

Sending samples is a great way for journalists to have hands-on experience with your product. Especially if you’re a new brand or are releasing a new offering or service. 

When you’re pitching samples, it’s important to research and identify the right recipients. You’ll want to ensure that the samples you’re offering align with the interests and beat of the journalists you are reaching out to. However, there’s a lot more that goes into sending samples than targeting the right journalists. 

Here’s what you’ll need to know before you begin a sample campaign.

1. Sending samples does NOT guarantee coverage

If you’re responding to a specific media request that requires a sample, for example, gift guides or product roundups, then it’s likely that you will receive coverage in exchange. But you should never expect that sending a sample will lead to coverage. 

That’s not to say it’s a waste of your time to send samples if coverage is your goal. Sending samples to the media can aid in building relationships with journalists you may want to pitch in the future. Have you ever thought about offering a sample without the ulterior motive of earning coverage? Shift your goal from securing coverage to wanting to introduce them to the brand or product. Maybe you’re even open to hearing their experience and thoughts after testing — feedback from journalists can provide valuable insights, so don’t be afraid to ask them for it. 

2. Keep your pitch short and concise

In your pitch, the product description should be simple and focus on highlighting the unique selling point. You can link to a press release or web page with additional information, so there’s no need to fit everything into the pitch. The journalist should know what you’re offering and how it’s different from competitors within the first three to five sentences. 

It’s always smart to include imagery in a sample pitch as well, but do not put more than one image in the body of the pitch. Stay away from lifestyle photography as well, most journalists prefer a product shot on a white background. You can add a line about additional imagery available upon request so if they’d like more, they can specifically ask for it.

Pro Tip: If you’re part of an affiliate network, don’t forget to add referral links in your pitch!

3. Timing is key

Timely samples can increase the chances of your product being featured in relevant media coverage so you’ll want to steer clear from offering samples during busy and peak new cycles like elections. Keep in mind that on the contrary, you’ll also want to be aware of slower times in the media when journalists are out of the office like holidays.

If you have a product launch coming up, you can reach out to journalists prior to the launch and ask them to review the product under embargo. It’s always more exciting for a journalist to receive a product that’s yet to be released opposed to having been released a year prior. Many publications also have editorial calendars planned out months in advance, so if you’re wanting to time a potential review with a launch, the sooner you can get a sample in their hands, the better.

4. Always send the journalist tracking information

Great news! You have a journalist interested in a sample and ready to ship it off. After you send a sample, be sure to share the tracking number with the journalist. This will make it easier for the journalist because they can check for shipping updates at their own convenience. This also prevents unnecessary follow-ups while the sample is in transit. 

Pro Tip: Require a signature upon delivery for all product samples, especially if it’s an expensive product. This will allow you to ensure the product was successfully received by the correct recipient and not left on a doorstep for someone else to find.

5. Be patient once the sample is delivered

Do not follow up with the journalist every day after they receive the sample (*unless it’s perishable, than you can follow up sooner). If you pitch a journalist who can accept samples, it’s likely they have a handful of samples in their queue. 

And when you follow up, don’t push for a review publication date. Reviews take time! In my experience, I’ve had sample reviews posted a month after delivery and others almost a year later. 

Segal Communications can help you get your product in the hands of journalists. Reach us at [email protected] to learn more about our media relations services.

Should You Be Focusing on Quality or Quantity Media Coverage?

Quality versus quantity is something most people struggle with in many aspects of their life. Do you want one really nice, expensive pair of shoes or five cheap, flat-soled shoes? See, you probably find yourself teeter-tottering between the two more often than you think. Today we are going to explore how this topic relates to PR and media coverage, so let’s start by defining the difference between the two.

Quality Media Coverage 

Quality coverage is what the majority of public relations services are geared towards. This means securing earned coverage in highly credible and reputable outlets that have a large readership. This would be the Forbes, Fast Companies, The Verges, Reader’s Digests, New York Times, and TechCrunches of the world. These are the sources most often looked to for advice, insights, tips, and news.

Here’s an example scenario in which you would aim for quality coverage: if your business has launched a new product and you want to build consumer trust and recognition, then you would want to offer a sample to well-known media outlets that will test and review the product. Consumers frequently look to editorial reviews when they are contemplating purchasing a specific product, and a comprehensive and insightful review from a highly credible media outlet can be very influential in the purchasing decision.

Quantity Media Coverage

The goal of quantity coverage is typically to boost your SEO, which not all PR efforts can and will support, but is still extremely valuable. Increasing visibility and brand awareness are the two main reasons to focus on quantity. 

Now, here’s a scenario in which you would aim for quantity: If your business is fairly new and entering a competitive market, then you would want to increase your brand’s name recognition in the media and on search engines amongst competitors. You might consider putting a press release out on a newswire, which is often picked up by hundreds of other outlets. Yes, it’s the same exact story, but it’s now visible to millions of people so you’ve essentially got 100+ media mentions. 

So Which is Better?

Quality coverage is more esteemed than quantity, but neither is necessarily better than the other. 

The answer really comes down to what your PR goals are. A question to ask yourself is, am I looking for reputable coverage or as many mentions as possible? 

It’s also important to note that your answer may change over time so make sure you reevaluate and readjust your coverage goals as your business evolves. 

Segal Communications can help you navigate your media coverage goals and secure your desired placements. Reach us at [email protected] to learn more about out PR services.

Selecting SEO Keywords to Optimize PR Content

Leveraging SEO in your PR strategy can immensely increase your business’s online visibility, making your offerings more accessible to both current and potential new customers alike. One of the easiest ways to maximize your PR efforts through SEO is to utilize keywords.

SEO keywords are phrases in your web content that cause your website to show up with a relative search term. By embedding keywords a potential customer is likely typing into their search engine in your web content, your business will be placed higher in search results. Ultimately, the point of using keywords is pretty similar to a key goal of PR: to create awareness of your business by getting your website placed in the top results of search engines, ultimately driving traffic to your website and increasing sales.

Even if you already have an SEO strategy in place, the best beginning practice for integrating keywords into PR efforts is to audit which keywords you are already ranking for. You can either use an SEO platform or manually search on Google to see what combination of phrases triggers your site to appear. This will give you an idea of what your business is already ranking for and can inform your strategy for increasing your rankings.

There are typically two categories of keywords you will want to include in your PR content: basic and long-tail.

Identifying your basic keywords 

Basic keywords are your tried and true terms that will rarely change. These are simple, one to two-word keywords that define your business and are directly related to your brand. They can include anything from your business name to a service you offer, your product, or your industry. 

To help define these keywords further, put yourself in the shoes of your customers. A good question to ask yourself is “If I was searching for a product or service similar to what my business offers, what would be the first thing I would google?”

It is important to note that these straightforward keywords can be more challenging to rank for because they tend to be associated with a higher search volume. For example, if you were to google “luggage”, an extensive array of results would appear as opposed to if you searched a long-tail, more concise keyword like “blue carry-on luggage”, which would produce significantly less relevant results.

Exploring long-tail keywords 

Long-tail keywords are a combination of three or more basic keywords. They can require a bit more specificity; however, long-tail keywords can offer great SEO value because they tend to have a lower search volume, making them easier to rank for.

Implementing these keywords in your PR approach is crucial to ensure that relevant and appropriate traffic is reaching your website.

When generating long-tail keywords, you can start with combinations of your basic keywords. For example, a long-tail keyword could include your company name + specific product + price. A good rule of thumb is to keep long-tail keywords between 3 to 8 terms to ensure reliability and accuracy. 

Integrating keywords into PR content

Once you have your list of targeted basic and long-tail keywords, this becomes your guidebook. With this, you can start brainstorming ways to integrate these keywords directly into your written content. Op-eds, sponsored posts, paid press releases, and blog posts are all opportunities to strategically include the keywords your business wants to rank for. 

Don’t forget to monitor and audit

Tracking the search volume of your keywords and monitoring their performance is an essential housekeeping task. This is especially important in PR because you want to confirm that your content and keywords are working cohesively to optimize impressions on your potential audience.

A simple audit can be done manually by searching the keywords you’ve selected to see if your site appears. Alternatively, specialized SEO tools and programs can be employed for more thorough analysis. If you end up restrategizing your target keywords, the good news is you will not need to scrap your initial list entirely. The fluidity of long-tail keywords allows them to be rearranged and reformulated, allowing you to adjust as needed. 

The Takeaway

Selecting the right SEO keywords and integrating them into your web content, along with monitoring these keywords for performance, is a simple and effective strategy to produce powerful results for increasing your business’s online presence. 

Need help creating a PR plan that works in tandem to maximize your business’s SEO potential? Reach out to us at [email protected]

How Does SEO Work With Your PR Strategy?

The fast-paced nature of the internet has created a consumer demand for Google search results to be delivered instantly and precisely. A survey found 60 percent of mobile users were very likely to click on the first two to three search results they saw, and more than 90 percent were likely to click on the first set of results. 

Leveraging search engine optimization (SEO) to boost your visibility online has become a highly valued and sought-after strategy for companies. Traditionally, SEO has been a marketing practice but this is no longer the case. The ever-changing nature of today’s digital landscape offers new possibilities for PR pros to incorporate SEO tactics in their work to strengthen their clients’ presence in search results.

The ever-changing nature of today’s digital landscape offers new possibilities for PR pros to incorporate SEO tactics in their work to strengthen their clients’ presence in search results.

The Relationship Between SEO and PR

SEO and PR can work cohesively to increase brand recognition. They are reliant on one another, often more than we think. How effective can PR efforts be if consumers cannot find your company on Google? There is little content and opportunity for SEO to grow organically without PR. 

Including SEO tactics in your PR strategy can differentiate between how you and your competitors stand in search rankings, ultimately deciding which sites both new and returning consumers choose to visit. PR pros can incorporate two components in their daily practices to achieve optimal SEO for their clients: keywords and backlinking. 

Keywords and backlinking are essential in the relationship between SEO and PR as they are easily manipulated and offer significant influence when utilized correctly.

Identifying the Keywords You Want to Rank For

Keywords are phrases included in your content that make it possible for search engines to list your company as a reliable and accurate result. This is where most will look to start in their SEO journey.

You first will want to audit the keywords your company is already ranking for. This builds your foundational understanding of which keywords are influencing your ranking. You are likely to see your company rank highly for obvious keywords relative to your company, like your name, service, or product. An audit can provide insight into what phrases are commonly addressed in already published content and help in identifying new opportunities to focus on in the future to target those infrequently used keywords.

It’s crucial to note keyword selections are not set in stone. They can be adjusted to cater to new product offerings or different PR campaigns, but be careful in selecting which ones and how many you want to monitor. The best practice is to start basic and simple before expanding to longer, more complex keywords.

Person working on a computer looking for SEO keywords they would like to rank for to boost visibility online.

Your search ranking is also determined by the number and quality of outside websites that link back to your website within their published content. Backlinks from credible and trustworthy sites positively influence your SEO ranking, making earning digital media placements one of the most beneficial SEO-boosting tactics. These placements work to increase your brand’s searchability, ultimately enhancing the quality and quantity of website traffic you receive. To ensure a published story results in an SEO-boosting backlink, your PR rep can ask a journalist to include a link to your company’s website along with including relevant links in their pitch for the journalist to reference and embed. 

Owned media, which includes things like press releases and blog posts, also presents opportunities for PR pros to help you drive your SEO rankings. Linking to other relevant content you own within a piece of media on your website can increase domain authority and traffic to other landing pages. Overall, we see this as a win-win!

The Takeaway

Your SEO ranking determines your accessibility, affecting how both new and returning customers can find you. Working with the right team of PR professionals can ensure your company ranks for relevant search terms and generates a healthy stream of backlinks to achieve maximum visibility.

At Segal Communications, we’re here to help your business reach its full SEO potential. Ready for a custom audit to identify your business’s optimal keywords and assess backlink health?

Reach us at [email protected].

Why Company Branding is an Essential PR Tool

An inside look into the integrated relationship we often overlook.

Public relations and branding go hand-in-hand. Exploring the synergy of their relationship leads to well-crafted communications that encompass all elements of what makes a company who they are. Defining your company’s brand is traditionally a marketing practice, often done in the beginning, introduction or startup stage of a company, but can also be altered and improved over time. 

In today’s world, digital platforms have evolved to become the preferred medium of messaging, and marketing and public relations have grown more intertwined, making branding a non-negotiable component of the PR toolkit. Despite this, companies often don’t appropriately highlight their mission or value proposition. Instead, they prioritize external characterizations rather than building their brand from within. The result of this is brand inconsistency.

What does branding entail exactly?

Branding is more than just the logo on your T-shirt or the fast-food restaurant commercial you see on TV. Company branding is traditionally broken down into six integral components:

  1. Voice – What personalities and tone drive your messaging?
  2. Identity – How is your brand represented by things like your logo and social media presence?
  3. Promise – What is your value proposition?
  4. Values – What principles does your company abide by?
  5. Targeting – What market segment do you want to reach?   
  6. Positioning How does your company differentiate itself from competitors?

All of these puzzle pieces work together to create your overall brand strategy, acting as a foundation for every message your company develops. The puzzle comes together with the addition of a crucial centerpiece: your company’s purpose.

A graphic with purpose at the center and identity, voice, positioning, targeting, values, and promise coming out of it.

The importance of purpose

According to a 2020 study, 94% of global consumers said it is important that the companies they engage with have a strong purpose. Unfortunately, only 37% of those consumers believe companies today actually do. A clearly defined purpose is vital to your overall strategy not only because all other elements of branding stem from it, but because your purpose identifies both what makes your company unique and the goal of your offerings. Your purpose is the reason people buy your product or service, as it answers the central question of “why?” This component of branding is often overlooked, yet your “why” may be the most important element to define. Your “why”, the motivation behind what you do, is public relations gold. 

Many companies employ Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle method to establish their branding. Normally branding prioritizes what the company wants consumers to see, however, unlocking the internal understanding of your company’s purpose is the glue that holds it all together. 

Sinek notes: “Very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by ‘why’ I don’t mean ‘to make a profit’. That’s the result. It’s always a result. By ‘why’, I mean ‘What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist?’”

Your “why” is the backbone of PR communications

Bridging the gap between your company’s purpose and the product or service you sell will benefit your efforts to amplify your messaging greatly. Your company’s offerings, mission, and product are just the tip of the iceberg in promoting your brand. Companies that have developed their branding to include a “why” drastically improve their odds of earning positive media coverage.

This is because storytelling is how PR pros bring your brand to life. Humanizing your brand creates a memorable impression for consumers and increases brand loyalty. Brand identity is not a characteristic consumers should have to dig around to find; it should be incorporated into all company communications, both internal and external. 

Earned media placements, blog posts and bylines offer an opportunity for your company’s messaging to be tailored around your “why.” An authentic and transparent company is one consumers will trust. Backing PR communications with your “why” can lead to greater customer recognition, insight, interest among new customers, added value to your business and lasting impressions.

Building relationships with your customers and the media is reliant on clear and focused company branding. Especially as the digital world has become the forefront of PR communications, it is essential to have solidified branding to engage in influencer relations and social media campaigns.

Let us take your brand’s visibility to the next level. We’re here, ready to help your company showcase your “why” and share it with millions of people.

[email protected]