Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How to Get Products for Free Part 5

This chapter explores the revelation that anyone can become a journalist overnight, and that PR companies are key in getting products for free. There's also not one but two free products, proving calling PR companies is very effective.



Looking for part 1? Find it here

Chapter 5: Phone Phun
After getting three products on the website I decided it was time to get back
up, dust myself down and try my luck with companies once again. Rather
than letting them ignore my emails I figured the best course of action was to
find company phone numbers and call people directly. That way they’d have
to deal with my enquiry straight away and even if they said no at least I’d
have a firm answer.

At least that’s what I thought. Turns out companies have just as
effective a policy for not having to deal with you on the phone as they do
with emails. Firstly there are the secretaries who refuse to put you through to
anyone unless you can prove you’re their half brother from Slovakia.
Then there’s the call screeners, designed to root out time wasters
within 30 seconds they’ll ask you straight off what your name is and whom
you work for. As I work for a website called Freebie-Man they either
laugh or hang up all together. The rare times people don’t hang up they’ll take
my details and surprise, surprise the person I need to talk to isn’t in at the
moment, or they’re on holiday, or they moved to Slovakia to be closer to their
half brother.

Then there are the automatic call systems, designed directly to stop
you ever getting to anyone remotely human. It’s almost as if the options on
these things are designed to contain subjects that no one on Earth would ever
need help with. Sure they start off plainly enough “For marketing enquiries
press 2” but then the options change to the likes of “If you are ringing about
The Sun article from February 26th please press 1”. After hearing all the
options usually there’s no button to go back to the original menu and you just
end up with someone repeatedly saying “Please choose an option”.

Last but not least there’s the confused person. After calling someone
on the main desk at a major corporation you’d usually expect them to know
who to transfer someone to. However half the time when ringing and asking for a marketing department I was met with either a “We don’t have one” or “I
don’t have a number, I’ll transfer you to another confused person… who
speaks German … badly”.

Still I soldiered on and after calling 10 companies I got through to the
team at Radica. I got straight through to a real person who passed me on to
the sales team straight away. Once talking to the sales team they gave me the
number for a PR company and told me they’d be able to help.

And that’s when I learnt that PR companies are the ones with all the
power. It’s remarkable how so many companies were unable to help me with
a basic journalistic enquiry. You’d think if a journalist rang up to review a
product everyone would stop to a halt and give them a product. After all,
reviews give a product exposure and exposure leads to more sales. It makes
sense.

The problem is so many companies are too keen to pass all their
marketing responsibilities on to PR companies and then forget about any
relations with the press. Most websites don’t list numbers for their press
contacts and often the numbers they have are outdated. For example, one
press website I encountered had contact details for a person who hadn’t
handled their account for two whole years. Needless to say any journalist
wanting to review their products wouldn’t be able to, and any affinity they
had with the brand would be destroyed.

Getting back to Radica, I swiftly called up their PR team and was met
with open arms. Honestly it felt like an entirely different world, the people on
the phone were friendly and helpful, they were keen to learn about the site
and more importantly they were happy to provide me with free products for
the website.

After a brief phone call and an email with details on the site I received
2 products from Radica; Cube World which was a Tamagotchi style box with
moving stick figures and a Mood Beam which is best described as a glowing
blob. The products came within record time and the best part was they were
mine to keep and do with as I wished.

All of this excellent treatment seemed to hinge on the fact I was
slowly but surely becoming a journalist, and thus from this point on I decided
that would become Bagman’s job title. Freebie-Man: Senior Journalist. After
all the treatment is better, the service excellent and as you’ll see from the
review below the fringe benefits are fun to play with.

Read the Cube World Review
Read the Mood Beams Review

5 Down 95 To Go

Read Chapter 6 of How to Get Products for Free

1 comment:

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My Policy

Every product on this site has been received for free, and given to me by the product manufacturer or their associated PR organisation in return for a review.

I have no other personal or business association with these companies, and all reviews are written truthfully and based on my own experience. If I hate a product I will say so (and have done on many occasions!).