[This is an update to a previous post on guidelines for bloggers requesting products.]
While ProfNet is a primarily a service that connects journalists with expert sources, bloggers who are in need of products to review or for giveaways can also use ProfNet. Here are our guidelines:
To qualify for product requests:
- Your blog must be up and running for at least six months.
- Your blog must comply with the FTC blogger guidelines regarding disclosure.
- Requests must not involve any type of fee, including advertising.
In addition, a product request can only be transmitted once in any given month. Please keep this in mind when deciding on a deadline for responses.
As for whether products need to be returned, some PR agencies can't send a product that won't be returned, so make sure to include whether or not you will return items, to prevent any misunderstanding down the line. Please note that for electronics and other "big-ticket" items (which we describe as those being valued at more than $200), we do require that you be willing to return those if the company or their PR agency requests it, as long as arrangements are made beforehand.
Sending a query
To submit a query, log in to your ProfNet account. If you have not yet registered for ProfNet, you can do so for free by visiting www.profnet.com and clicking on the green “Sign up as a journalist” button.
Once you’ve logged in, the query form will automatically come up in the middle of the page. You can also click on "Create Opportunity" in the upper left-hand corner to open the query form.
The first time you submit a request for products, a ProfNet editor will contact you via your ProfNet inbox to ask if your blog complies with FTC guidelines and if you can guarantee that you will never charge ProfNet users for any reason. If you meet the requirements, we will distribute your request with the following sentence included at the end of the text: "This blog complies with FTC guidelines; there are no fees associated with this request."
After we've distributed your query, we cannot distribute the same query again until a month after its original distribution date. We do this to prevent our users from seeing the same requests repeatedly, and it gives everyone a fair chance for visibility.
Also, please note that we do not "cloak" product requests. We must include your name, the blog name and the blog URL in the query.
We recommend distributing your queries to corporations, PR agencies, and small businesses to maximize exposure. You can find these industry limitations under "Institution Types" in the query form.
Include your blog's statistics, like your number of Facebook fans, Twitter and Google Friend Connect followers, unique monthly visitors, Google PageRank, etc. This information helps company reps understand the potential for publicity.
Provide a timeline. Let ProfNet users know how long they can expect to wait to see your review of their product. If they know ahead of time, they may help you promote the review once it has been published. And if you're requesting a giveaway, and expect the company to send the product to the winner(s), this information is particularly important to ensure a timely delivery.
Identify your audience. Who are your fans? Are they mainly parents, teenagers, professionals, video gamers, or some other demographic? ProfNet users will appreciate that they did not waste their time (and yours) sending men's clothing to a women's blog, for example, and your readers will appreciate hearing about products they care about too.
Specify what types of products you're interested in receiving. Even if you run a blog for women, you might not be interested in receiving makeup products, for example. Details like this are good to include in your query, because it helps companies determine which product(s) is appropriate for your blog specifically.
Keep your query as concise as possible. Although there's a lot of information to include, do your best to keep it concise. No one wants to read a book, and users might end up skimming through it or not reading it at all if it seems too daunting. Queries are meant to be informative, not entertaining, so there's no need to write catchy headlines or include quirky comments.
Tips from PR reps
We asked PR reps via Twitter what they'd like to suggest to bloggers requesting products:
- @MEPRagency suggests always reviewing products received: "Review products, good or bad."
- @JennaSnacks: "Tell us exactly what you want, how you'll use it and where it will be promoted. URLs are helpful. And a concise and organized request is the most helpful."
- @Narciso17 suggests being considerate of the other person's time. Ask them if now is an OK time to reach/talk to them. "Just taking into account that they also have a workload helps. A little bit of sugar goes a long way."
Please note: If you are looking for products for events, you can do so by posting your request in our Promo Opps forum on ProfNet Connect. There is no charge to post.