By Corrina Anderson, Account Director

More than ever, product reviews by trusted publications, popular websites and influential bloggers can have a significant impact on the visibility and sales of a product.  When was the last time you purchased something of significant value without first seeking out others’ opinions?

The number of consumers doing pre-purchase research online has more than doubled in the past 12 months, with 5.1 million Australians aged over 14 years researching a product or service to buy (Roy Morgan, 2012).  Magazines like CHOICE, expert websites such as CNET, consumer-rated forums including and TripAdvisor, as well as YouTube unboxings and video reviews have become the ‘go to’ for shoppers.

A glowing vote of confidence from respected industry experts and influencers is key to getting people talking about – and buying – your gear.  As such, reviews programs have become an integral part of the consumer PR mix.

Whether you’re organising a review for the latest camera, smartphone or coffee machine, there are a number of things you can do to ensure the program is as seamless, cost effective and useful to the media as possible.

Strike while the iron is hot. Media will want to review a new product as soon as it is available – and if possible before it hits shelves.

Set an agreement
Make the loan terms clear before the review item is sent, including the length of the review period and conditions of return.

First impressions count
No journalist wants to be greeted with a grimy product that still has the last reviewer’s information on it. Make sure the product is clean, restored to factory settings, and packaging looks fresh.

Check that checklist
Ensure all accessories are in the box, including power cables, batteries (fully charged), and user manuals.  And include a brief media kit for easy referral.

Follow up
While harassing the reviewer is certainly not recommended, a quick call or email to your contact after a week is an opportunity to answer any questions and receive initial feedback.

Any questions from the reviewer need to be answered as quickly as possible. The review may not be able to continue until you do, or could negatively impact the result of the review.

Become a data master
To simplify the review process, creating a database to track products and prioritise and manage stock is vital.  It also minimises loss of product and is a valuable record of your most active media audience.

Ultimately, the success of a product review campaign comes down to the product itself: is it a winner? Follow these tips to give your gear the best possible chance of striking gold.

Got some tips you would like to add? Share them with us below.