Review this checklist to determine whether sending a product to media or influencers is the right move for your brand. Plus, learn tips for executing so you get maximum cut-through with the recipient and a ROI everyone is happy with
Product drops. Media drops. Media send-outs. Creative mailers. Press kits. Whatever you call them, this episode deep-dives into why putting product in the hands of media or an influencer can be great for your brand. It also covers the elements you should think about when creating your concept and how to execute it to drive engagement, coverage and an ROI.
Beauty PR specialists Anna Stark and Tahira Matthews from Stark Matthews join me in this episode to share their tips.
“Time and budget are two of the most important factors to consider when it comes to sending product out. You need to determine what you can achieve/source in the time frame you have, with the budget you've been given"
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more about managing a product drop. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".
HOW WILL SENDING A PRODUCT OUT BE OF BENEFIT TO MY BRAND?
Putting a product in the hands of people who can write or post about it enables them to engage with it in a deeper, more meaningful way than just receiving a pitch and media release.
It allows them to create a connection and their own experience or feelings towards the product. They develop a personal relationship with it - how it feels, how they use it, what it can do for them - which makes them more effective advocates of that product.
Enables a brand to shape and communicate the brand values of the product through packaging and delivery.
Drives cut-through - it makes people stop for a little longer than they would with a pitch about a new product and forces them to take notice.
WHAT SHOULD I CONSIDER IF I WANT TO GET MY PRODUCT IN THE HANDS OF THE RIGHT PEOPLE?
What are your goals? What do you want to achieve by putting this product in the hands of media or influencers? Do you want drive mass hype? Do you want them to write about a new product? Are you introducing a new brand to the market so you want to create a new relationship with it? Do you want a select few people to be the first in the country to experience it? Once you know what you want to achieve, that will help dictate how many people receive it and who should receive it.
What is your budget? What you can achieve with $3,000 is very different to $30,000. You may have to adjust your recipient list or the quality of your packaging to fit your budget.
What time frame do you have to work with? If this product needs to be in the hands of your recipients within two weeks, you may not be able to get bespoke leather boxes with monogrammed initials on them.... What is achievable in the time frame you have? Also, consider where your recipients are based. If they are on the other side of the country, you'll need to factor in a few days for them to receive it.
What brand values do you want to communicate through this product drop? Do you want the recipient to be reminded that this is a luxury product? If so, how do you translate that through packaging? If your brand is quirky and edgy - how do you communicate that? Does the product solve a problem? If so, how can you replicate/communicate that problem with this product delivery so they can experience how effective your product is at solving it?
HOW DO I MANAGE THE EXPECTATIONS OF MY CLIENT OR MANAGER?
There are no guarantees you will get media or social media coverage. That's a fact and there's no need to try and pretend otherwise so be clear on that. What you can control is a strategic execution, that there is a purpose behind it that will resonate with your recipients, it is executed in line with the brand values, you have created a carefully curated list of people to receive it and that it will be followed-up to give you the best chances of cut-through.
There is value in general brand awareness. Just because someone doesn't post about the product or they don't review it/write about it, does not mean it is a wasted opportunity. Every personal engagement that person has with that product helps build up their layers of brand connection. They may keep it top of mind for something they're writing next month or it may inspire a story idea for them.
If you are engaging with unpaid influencers, focus on nano (1,000 - 5,000 followers) or micro (5,000 - 50,000 followers). Their engagement tends to be higher as they spend more time commenting/engaging with their followers and you're less likely to run into issues with them already being involved with a competing brand partnership. Plus, they're far more likely to accept contra product in return for a post/story.
If you do you want your product to end up in the hands of a high profile influencer and you don't have money to pay them, be very selective of who you send it to. Identify people you truly believe would connect with your product. You don't want to get a reputation for just sending products constantly that would have no meaning/significance for that person as their agent/manager is likely to never pass them on and it will reflect very poorly on you and the company you work for.
PACKAGING WITH PURPOSE
Keep your brand values top of mind. You want your recipients to make the appropriate brand connections as soon as they receive it. You may want them to observe the package as looking fun, or premium or innovative or simple and elegant. Make sure this is reflected in the packaging materials you use - the box/bag/ribbon/card/labels etc.
Consider how the product will travel. If it's been hand-delivered by courier, there's a better chance of it arriving safely and soundly. If you are posting it across the country and the package will be bounced around various vans then you need to ensure all the elements stay in their proper place, so it arrives and presents exactly as it should do.
Attention to detail. Think about how a bow is tied. Consider what stock you use for the card/paper you're writing the personal note on. Do you use a branded sticker to seal a bag? Is the address label in an aesthetically pleasing position on the package? All of these tiny little details add up.
Many hands make light work. Packaging perfectly takes hours of work so if you need some help from team members, give them a few days notice and put it in their calendar so they can set aside time to help you. Make sure you provide a clear brief on how the products should be packaged, if products have to face a certain way, where you want the labels to be tied etc.
If you're sending product to media or influencers, it should always be accompanied by a personal note.
You want every recipient to know they have been carefully selected to receive this product and it's not just part of a mass send-out.
Use their name, briefly mention why you think this product might be of interest to them (for example, do you want them to consider it for a particular section they write for) or just let them know why they're receiving it. The last thing you want them to feel is confusion as to why they have received something.
Find someone in the office with nice hand-writing to write the notes, though just note it can take a VERY long time to write them out so be mindful of how this may impact their day.
Alternatively, if it's a premium/luxury brand, look at using a calligrapher. They will need at least a few weeks notice usually, so they can set aside time to do it. They may only need 24hrs to turn around the job but they need to know in advance that the work is coming and when it is coming.
If you are delivering something perishable, you MUST, advise the recipient in advance to make sure they are there to receive it. If they're out of the office for a few hours or a few days, this could have horrid results and that reflects poorly on you as the PR and the brand. I'd let them know the week prior you'll be delivering something the following week and give them a day and a time frame of an hour or two and check they'll be there. I'd then follow up again the day prior to the delivery to reconfirm, in case their circumstances have changed. I'd also send them an email that morning of, to let them know it will be with them by a particular time. Do not leave anything to chance and don't expect them to tell you if their circumstances change.
I'm not sure how it works in other countries but most of the larger media outlets in Australia receive deliveries via their loading dock. It then gets passed on to the mail/post room and then the mail room will, at some stage (no guarantee of immediately), email/call the recipient to let them know there is a package for them to collect, or they may deliver it to their desk. So, it could be hours between something being delivered and actually received. If you have a product that needs to be viewed/consumed immediately, then let the journalist know in the advance email that as it's perishable/delicate, you'd love to deliver to them personally so could they (or someone from their team) meet you in their reception to collect. The more margin for error you can remove, the more likely this will make the mark you intend.
Follow-up with all recipients. If it's perishable and you didn't personally deliver it to them, I'd be calling within the hour to let them know it was delivered so they know it's there, waiting and it has elements that may perish. If it was posted and the package has been tracked, I usually touch base the day after I can see it was signed for to make sure they received the package, reconfirm what you had hoped it would be of interest/consideration for and pass on any additional info - media release, images etc.
TIPS FROM PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE THIS MANY TIMES BEFORE
If you're posting an item, make sure you have your return address on the package in case it doesn't make it to the destination. That way it can be returned easily to you.
Double check the recipient list - make sure names are spelt correctly, job titles are accurate and the address is up-to-date. Just because someone in your office or team did a send-out last week to this list of people, it doesn't mean it's up-to-date. There could have been some movements of media in the last few days, someone could have been promoted or the office address changed. Also, due to Covid, so many journalists are working from home or in-between home and the office. So you need to make sure you're sending it to the location they want to receive it at.
If you're posting anything in glass, do a shake test before you seal the package. If you can feel/hear the products moving around freely and banging against each other, there's an excellent chance they will not survive the journey. This gives you the opportunity to add in extra padding or relook at how you will send them.
If your products contain any liquid/gel etc, double check each bottle/jar is sealed securely. Sometimes they come off the production line and the seal is a little loose. Which can then result in the lid coming off mid-transit and a goopy mess.
If you are sending something that has lots of little pieces in it - for example, you've sprinkled glitter throughout the package as it ties in with the brand artwork - consider the implications of that arriving on the desk/floor of your recipient. It can be REALLY annoying to have to tidy up a crap-load of glitter from your desk, or to then have to vacuum your floor to get rid of it. So although the intention is fun and it ties in with your brand, it may just annoy the receiver. And you don't want that to be their lasting thought...
If you'd like some insight into other tactics you could use as part of your PR strategy, check out the Creating a PR Strategy episode that's up on the podcast now. You'll find the notes from that episode here.