Review Pitches Represent Media Doppelgangers for Bad PR Victims
Dedicated sites like the Bad Pitch blog and even TechCrunch and Wired have no problem going on the offensive over misguided or mouthy public relations flaks who either completely miss the mark or drop a bit too much snark. It’s a checks and balances with much of the horrid and fantastic PR work going unnoticed. However, the pendulum swings both ways.
As the PR representative for IOGEAR, a company that makes a myriad of useful wireless AV streaming kits, USB/HDMI adapters, KVM switches and other convergence/connectivity products, we are bombarded with product review requests spanning the Internet landscape. Most are from legitimate media sites, but not always. From the old-time computer hobbyist who abhors the use of email and only communicates in 30-minute phone conversations to the teenage gamer who NEEDS to integrate another 50-inch display into his set-up, product whoredom runs rampant.
Occasionally, (just like Bad Pitch and TechCrunch) we get a real winner that actually warrants public shame. Unlike the professionals, we won’t expose names or sites, but it’s actually entertaining to consider these “opportunities” with a straight face.
The first runner-up actually presents an interesting strategy for manufacturers of tech products. The practice of paying or giving products to non-media “brand evangelists” in exchange for positive reviews on major Internet shopping sites has been around for years. With the onset of blogs where everyone can be an editor, reporter and photographer armed with an arsenal of tweets and status updates for advertising a product they love (or got for free), we can really feel like mini-Walt Mossbergs.
Please keep in mind, these are emails are printed EXACTLY as they were received; any editing miscues are the fault of the writer.
Subject: Testing GBHFK331
To whom it may concern.
I am interested in this product. I have many friends that have asked me to recommend to them a product that they can use hands free while driving their car. I searched the Internet and I did not find any reviews on this item. I would like to test one out. I would then write reviews on many sites that advertise it but do not have one single review. Also I would highly recommended to many others if this products proves to its discription. The sites I prefer to use are Amazon, Buy.com, Newegg and B and H photo. Thank you for your response.
Aside from the spelling errors, which would likely creep up in any online reviews he left, it would be a leap of faith sending product and tracking the review left on the shopping sites. There’s certainly some ROI for a five-star rating and a showering of praise on Amazon or other seemingly neutral sites, but it brings ethics into the equation and only affects people searching the specific product to buy as opposed to a wider population via third-party media.
Runners-up are second place for a reason. The winning pitch presents quite the carrot-on-a-stick:
To whom this may concern,
I would like to become a reviewer of high quality IOGear Products. If it is possible, could you send me some of your products(Digital Scribe). If you will send it, I will do reviews on YouTube and promote your products. I will promote your products by putting a link on the video. Think of this as a way of cheap advertising. I love and enjoy IO Gear and reviewing. Many people thank me for my full of different aspects reviews. These people are friends, family, random people, and big companies. The big companies thank me for the high traffic of customers they received.
Mayor of Narnia*
With a promise of advertising to family, friends and social media, his approach is not much different from Micheal or any of the normal product whore requests we get. However, throw in the mysterious and intriguing random people, begging thoughts of an IOGEAR truckers cap, sandwich board and leaflets handed out on busy street corners, and that’s a winner.
Add the notion that he has passion for his work and big companies shower praise for his web traffic and we would seemingly be stupid not to send an entire box of products. Alas, an email requesting links to previous reviews or testimonials for the big companies went unanswered.
Whether they get 50,000 or 5 unique visitors a day, most of the requests we get are from perfectly respectable and well-intentioned reviewers. When they’re not, we’ll let you know.
*Names have been altered to protect the barely literate hopeful.