Dear Professor Bruce: I own a small technology company. We just came out with a new product and really don’t have any experience in getting the product reviewed. Right now, on a limited budget, we were going to try to contact some publications ourselves.
Contacting publications on your own is not a bad way to start, but you need to be very focused in who and how you approach. Editors and reviewers get blasted daily with product information and press releases. A lot of it ends up in the recycle bin. Here are some ways to minimize that happening:
• First, make sure that your initial communication makes it clear that you’re asking that your product be reviewed. You need to communicate that you’re asking that time and effort be spent looking at your product. Don’t assume that the person reading your request will intuit that you are asking for a review.
• Next, let the editor or review know what their readership will gain from the review coverage. The fact that your new product is the most wonderful thing in the world isn’t going to get it reviewed. What problem does the product solve for their reader? What process is made easier? What does the product actually do that the reader would want to know about? Does it do the same thing as an existing product but at a greatly lower price? You have to provide the editor/reviewer with a compelling reason to invest time and money in performing a review. The best way to do this is to learn about the target’s readers. Read current and back issues of a magazine online or in a library. If the publication is a web site, analyze it to determine who it appeals to.
• With a limited budget, you need to be much more targeted in who you approach. Make sure that your request for a review goes to the appropriate person. Check the staff either on the masthead if a paper publication, or the “About us” on a site. If there is someone listed as the reviews editor, your chances are better if your review request goes to them.
• Finally, if you decide to use a loan agreement for a piece of equipment, be reasonable about the length of the loan. Understand that a reviewer or editor often has dozens of products in the review queue, and is not going to move yours to the front of the line because you want it back in two weeks. And understand and be realistic about the fact that there will be people and publications that accept a piece of hardware or software and never return or review it. That’s just the way it is.
BIO: Ted Needleman was the EIC of a technology magazine for 10 years and has been reviewing hardware and software since 1978. He is currently a Contributing Columnist to Investor’s Business Daily and writes and reviews frequently for other publications.