Five Tips for Five Star Reviews

Five Tips for Five Star Reviews

4th October 2012

So you’ve done the hard work of getting someone to review something. Job done? Not at all.

‘This jar of honey may be in a revolting looking pot, but it’s scrumptious”, contains the same information, worded differently, as ‘This jar of honey is scrumptious, but the pot it’s in is revolting”.  There’s little to choose between the semantics and the facts. But whilst Google may not differentiate between the two, potential customers can.

And a good review is likely to be placed and promoted more prominently than a bad one. So here are five PR tips for getting to honeypot one.

1. Find out who is doing the review

Just because you’ve sent something to an editor, doesn’t mean that they the ones doing the review.

The honey jar may be going to mum because she loves honey. The book may be going to an outside blogger or freelancer. The tech may be being sent to a mega geek to put through its paces.

The more you know about the person reviewing, the more you can tailor what information and support you give them to help them love your product. If you can build a direct relationship and send something direct, all the better.

The more hands something has to pass through before arriving with a reviewer, the more chance there is of anything that accompanies your review can be parted from the item itself. This is particularly important with graphics, instructions etc.

2. Help the reviewer out with basic information

Think about including a supplementary sheet. It should contain the following information:

–       Price – always vital
–       Who is the product aimed at?
–       Where will it be sold, and who by?
–       What are the terms of the review? Is the product to be kept or returned? What date is it due back? Who will pay for the return? Having these things clear from the outset can save heartache and damaged relationships later. Having it in black and white in the review pack saves any awkwardness later.
– Where does this product fit into the range? Are there other sizes/specs?  (Think hardback/software kindle; small medium large honey jars…. You get my drift) Help the reviewer to place the product.
– A telephone number to call with any questions – including out of hours if possible.

One of my team at a previous agency once sent out a camera for review and forgot to include the packs we’d prepared.  A £200 camera was reviewed against cameras valued at £1500 and the journalist reviewing had run the review over the weekend – we weren’t around to answer questions. A delightful camera received a poor review, the journalist felt stupid when he found out, and the publication left the negative review in tact, but added a note that the agency (named) had been idiots. Not great PR.

3. Go large

Don’t bombard the reviewer (it won’t get read – two or three sheets of clearly organised, bullet-pointed information max) but include some supplementary information.

Only include what’s helpful and helps to make it harder to give you a tough review. Ideas might include:

A biography of an author or developer
A ‘contact sheet’ with images of your product to choose from, complete with details of  who to contact to arrange any additional photography.

Avoid marketing materials unless they add to the product’s story.

4. Ring up part way through the review – if you can

Make sure everything’s arrived, that it’s all in working order, that the reviewer understands the product.  This isn’t an opportunity to sell. It’s an opportunity to help. The call can prove the helpful nudge to start the review, or the chance for the reviewer to express any nagging doubts or unanswered questions. And it builds a relationship. It’s much harder to be harsh when you know people.

5. Respect the reviewer’s independence

If you come on so strong that the reviewer feels you are trying to buy a better review, if you can only see criticism in a less than prefect review, you run the risk of having the review pulled altogether.

Even a poor review can sell – and there’s certainly SEO value in something that causes a controversy. If the one thing the reviewer has been nice about is the one thing that matters to the consumer/purchaser, job done.

If you don’t like the review, sit back and ask if it’s factually correct. If it’s not, correct the fact and provide the support materials to back up what you’re saying.  Most publishers will value the content and debate, and you get double the chances to reach your audience.

Don’t attack the reviewer. They’re only doing their job. Learn, move on and do a better job next time.


Written By
Claire Thompson has has 15 years PR experience and runs Waves PR, which she founded. She has great taste in wine and lousy taste in music. The two are not unconnected!
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