PR Spin: Behind the Scenes of a Misunderstood Industry

Ryan Greives

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Review samples are a crucial to generating media coverage. More and more editors, bloggers, producers and even podcasters will request to try out a product before they highlight it to their audience – providing first-hand experience with the product.  It is so commonplace that the Federal Trade Commission recently set new guidelines for bloggers and social media-influencers, who must now disclose if they received payment or a product sample for review (one in the same in the eyes of the FTC):

“The guidelines state that bloggers who have received money or “in-kind payment” tied to product reviews must disclose such deals to readers… They [new guidelines] bring into sharper focus the relationship of bloggers and brands. The FTC chose not to make a distinction between professional bloggers and amateurs. It also does not differentiate between paying cash and providing product samples. Violators face fines of up to $11,000 per infraction.” (AdWeek, October 5)

We often receive compliments on our timely correspondence and sample turnaround from the media with whom we work. Working to provide samples ahead of media deadlines, following up to answer any questions as they try it out and following through with this until we can secure coverage. “Experts said the new regulations would have little impact on marketers following standard practices.” AdWeek

One of the best problems we encounter is running out of samples due to too many requests from the media. When we are unable to provide review samples (due to any number of problems— warehouse backup, priority to retailers, even new companies booming right out of the gate), it throws a kink in the system of generating timely coverage.  Seeing this as a great problem, it’s important as a company to remember the power of the sample. While your PR company should be choosey when sending product samples, they will need your help providing those samples to generate top tier coverage and ultimately driving up your sales. One sample can generate exposure to millions – don’t underestimate the power of the sample.

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I am the senior public relations specialist at cleverbridge, a proven leader in global subscription billing technology, services and expertise. I lead the development, execution and measurement of the global PR and social media strategy. Prior to cleverbridge, I was vice president of BLASTmedia’s B2B Practice Group, providing strategic counsel, while driving tactical execution for a diverse range of clients. I led some of the agency’s largest campaigns, conducted launch campaigns for numerous startups and helped many emerging brands build their profile. Working with a wide variety of companies at all stages of growth, I have managed client strategy and messaging for clients such as 3Tera (acquired by CA in 2010), Bluelock, iGoDigital (acquired by ExactTarget in 2012), Code 42 Software, Tanita, NuCurrent, Woopra, Gordano, Ontario Systems and Mi Media (FRA: 8MK).

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