4 Tips For Getting PR People To Send You Free Stuff

November 15, 2008 · 17 comments

You probably have noticed that I occasionally get free products that I review and/or give away in contests (how cool was that giving away a free bike?!). Steve from Weight Loss Weapons did, and he asked me:

You seem to get free stuff to review all the time. Do they contact you or are you going after them?

I really haven’t thought about that before now, but I thought my response deserved a longer remark than just responding to his comment, so here is my answer, 4 Tips For Getting PR People To Send You Free Stuff:

1) Rank on the first page or two of Google for the search phrase “[your keyword] blog”. In my case, I have been on the first or second page of Google for “weight loss blog” (#7 as of right now) for a number of months. Why is this important? Because PR firms are recognizing the power of word of mouth advertising and see blogs as a great (and cheap) way to get the message out about the product they are pitching. Put yourself in the shoes of a PR person trying to promote some new bottle of wine for example. I think a Google search for “wine blog” would be a reasonable starting point for their program, and by doing so they will find a solid list of bloggers who are no doubt willing to accept a free bottle of wine in return for a mention or even a full review.

2) When you do review a product, be completely honest. First, any PR person worth their salt will not set any expectation that you review their product or if you do that it is a positive review. They believe in their product so they are willing to take that risk. If someone tries to set that expectation with you, then I would consider not accepting what they are offering. This is important because in order for your readers to trust you, the reviews you put in front of them should be honest. This means that you will occasionally not like something you are reviewing. If that is the case you should be sure to be honest and say you don’t like it. Why? Because it makes the good reviews that much more believable. If a PR person reads your blog and sees that you are honest it is more likely they will want to work with you (the honest ones, that is!) If you do get a product you don’t like but that you think would be of value to a reader, consider offering the product in a contest giveaway rather than writing a review.

That is really all I have done to date. However, there are two more things that I know work and that I am going to be starting to push harder on:

3) Sign up for a word-of-mouth media network like BzzAgent. These networks looks for everyday consumers who believe in honest word-of-mouth and who like to discover new and interesting products and share their experiences with others. Philips Sonicare recently sent out 30,000 $70 toothbrushes to BzzAgents who had expressed a desire to receive them. I suspect that not all the offers will be as cool as that!

4) Ask them to send you stuff. Got a product you would like to try? Find out who the PR firm is and pitch yourself (and your blog) on why they should send you their product. For example, let’s say you really liked those cool BodyBuggs as featured on NBC’s The Biggest Loser. Looking at their website I see they are made by Apex Fitness. A quick Google search for “who is the PR firm for Apex Fitness” reveals the answer: The M-Line Inc. (UPDATE: Apex contacted me and told me they now do their PR in-house). Contact them in whatever manner you are comfortable with - email, phone, special mailer, whatever. If you see a contest where I am giving away a BodyBugg you will know it worked!

If you would like to learn more about the relationship between bloggers and PR people I highly recommend these two posts on Problogger:

Understanding PR People for Fun and Profit
How to use PR People to Build Traffic for your Blog

P.S. If anyone from the Austin, Nichols Distilling Co. wants to send me a bottle of Wild Turkey I will happily accept it, although I probably won’t be reviewing it here!

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Sadie November 15, 2008 at 1:03 pm

Even though Sadie’s Skinny has only been up for 2 months (well, a month and a half) I still have a Google page rank of 0. I don’t have money to invest in advertising since I have spent so much money on my domain name and hosting and the products that went along with getting the website up (plus my husband runs a business out of the house and, well, let’s face it, the economy sucks). Since so many people have a weight loss blog these days, how do I stand out? I participate in several forums and I get regular traffic, sort of… I am working on the social media thing, but that’s slow going. Have any more tips?

Content, SEO, Niche participation are what is key. And I don’t think there has been a PR update in the last couple of months so don’t sweat Google not recognizing you yet.

steve@weightlossweapons.com November 15, 2008 at 3:41 pm

Great post John exactly what I wanted to know. I’m looking for products to review and test out. I want to get something together for my first ever contest as well.

I had no idea about Bzzagent but I’m heading over there right now.

Thanks for the mention :)

My blog is a PR 3 bringing in 4000+ visitors a month which is pretty good I think. Combine that with the main site attached to the blog and I’m getting 9000+ plus a month total.

Levi November 15, 2008 at 5:36 pm

I think I’ll have to start writing about how well bike riding and good microbrews go together :)

Yes, I like that idea!

Scale Junkie November 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm

I love BzzAgent! We still use the Sonicare and the Harmony One Universal Remote from them, its a great program.

I don’t mind reviewing certain products, some stuff I just won’t try…I suppose if I want free handbags I better start blogging about that instead ;)

Whoa, you got a Harmony One out of the deal? Nice!

Steve v4.7 November 16, 2008 at 1:00 am

There really are some great, relevant products out there. I’ve reviewed a couple of things that were very useful. I imagine a lot more opportunities will arise for bloggers.

Rachel/Fit Mom November 16, 2008 at 10:01 am

This is helpful. I’m going to look into that BzzAgent membership. Thanks

Israel November 16, 2008 at 10:56 am

Good stuff John. I am contacted all the time for some pretty cool, and sometimes weird, products. I have a backlog of stuff I want to review.

Yeah, the backlog is a bit of a problem - might have to come up with some sort of mini-review format or something.

Fat Matt November 16, 2008 at 10:59 am

When you write reviews, you really have to be carefull not to be tempted to please the sponsor instead of writing what you really think. Otherwise, you might end up loosing your readers.

Merry Mary November 16, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Interesting post. I just was contacted the other day for my first product to review. I am pretty excited about it, actually. :) I wish I could get some free Pomegranate Juice to try so I don’t take a trip to the store just for that haha!

Looking forward to hearing about your POM Wonderful review. :-)

Trent November 16, 2008 at 5:26 pm

Great tips - thanks! I didn’t know about Bzzagent!

Tom Rooney November 17, 2008 at 9:03 am

Excellent stuff John. I was thinking about a new blog on Cadillacs…..

Don’t laugh - I’ll be willing to bet there is some guy out there with a Cadillac blog who makes money referring people to EBay auto…

Mr. Meltdown November 17, 2008 at 11:23 pm

I am a member of BzzAgent. That is cool you know about that site. John you are one great source for good tips. Cool Post, as always.. :)

Marq November 18, 2008 at 5:12 am

Drink unsweetened yogurt or natural lime or lemon juice without any sugar or salt after every meal. You will definitely lose your love handles FAST. Burn beer belly fats. Flatten tummy. Speed up weight loss. Lose excess bulge. Be slim. Plus develop a beautiful radiant complexion. Quick and easy. Be patient. Do not stop till u achieve your desired results.

Leo (Healthy Tips For A Healthy Lifestyle) November 18, 2008 at 7:30 am

Great post! Very informational!

I get stuff sent to me to review on my blog, but there is this new health book that I really wanna get my hands on. I’m thinking of contacting the PR firm for it! Thanks for giving tips on how to do it! :)

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