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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.