Product reviews

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Sports stars and celebrities are often paid to promote or showcase brands. Watching a top tennis player holding a Grand Slam trophy aloft as the cameras snap, you could be forgiven for asking yourself: “Was he really lugging that chunky and expensive wristwatch around the court for the last three hours?”

The answer, of course, is no. It was slipped on smoothly as part of the towel down / freshen up routine that culminates in the presentation. In our media savvy age this comes as no surprise to anyone. We understand the game.

But what about journalists and bloggers who write and speak about products as part of their regular publishing activities?  Generally, we respect their editorial integrity and assume that they are making an independent assessment of what they cover. This view is reinforced by the frequency of ‘bad’ reviews given to what are perceived to be substandard products. We know that journalists have a responsibility to their publishers to maintain the reputation of their media outlet. For bloggers, personal reputation is paramount as it links directly to the popularity and reach enabled by social media channels.

However, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – a government watchdog – has discovered instances of online reviews that appeared independent but were actually paid for. There is clear consumer legislation that prohibits such practices; sponsored editorial or advertorial must be clearly identified as such so that consumers can make their own judgement on the validity of the content. As a result, the CMA recently published an open letter to publishers and bloggers reminding them of their responsibilities.

The motivation for bending the rules is clear: review articles and blogs influence people’s buying decisions. So, as a law-abiding marketer of products, how cangov.uk/…/An_open_letter_to_online_publishers_and_bloggers.pdfyou take advantage of these channels? Well, by implementing a well-planned and tightly organised product review PR campaign. Good practice here is a mixture of quality product and materials, relevant targeting, good execution and common sense. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it) – Don’t try and bribe!

To help companies develop and run a successful review programme, Publitek has produced an e-book called ‘Everything you need to know about organising product reviews’. To receive a free copy of the e-book, click here

Alternatively, if you want to run a high quality product review campaign that gathers media coverage, enhances your brand and does not fall foul of professional and legal standards, but you don’t have the time, employ an agency that specialises and is experienced in these campaigns.