It's got to the point where I am fortunate enough to often receive PR samples to review on my blog. Although this is, of course, a wonderful perk of blogging, it also means I need to have some pretty solid organisation in place. Luckily for me, blog organisation is something I really enjoy doing, so I've got a good little system worked out. If only I was as organised in my daily life...
First things first, you need to consider how much you can realistically take on board. At first, it's very exciting to be offered samples and it's very tempting to take whatever is put to you, but think it through. Is this something you would consider buying yourself? Is it relevant to your blog and your readers? Is it something that will be useful to your readers? If not, it's probably best to pass. The last thing you need is clogging up your home with products that you'll only use once.
I have to be honest here and admit that I've only recently designated storage for PR samples. Before, they just got put down somewhere and, being a messy person by nature, I'd forget where I'd put them and have to rummage through the clutter to find them. Needless to say, it wasn't a very efficient system. Then one day it just hit me: I'll get a PR box. I already had a pretty white basket floating around so I emptied it and put all my samples in there. Now, whenever a sample comes through the post, it goes straight in the PR box. Once I've photographed it, it can be put away in its new home. This way I know that any item in the box is yet to be photographed.
For some reason, admin is something I absolutely love to do. Spreadsheets and charts make my heart sing! So I created a spreadsheet, named PR, and I've made a copy that you can download here for free. If you prefer to use handwritten forms, you can download a printable copy here.
Using this spreadsheet, I can see at a glance whether I have kept in touch with the PR. I have easy access to all the links in case anybody needs them, and I've kept a record of the value for tax purposes. I've also got the email addresses of all the PRs I've worked with as a running database (Make sure your spreadsheet is secure as personal information like this can be sticky in terms of law). If, for whatever reason, I need to contact them again in the future, I don't need to go rifling through my emails to find their address.
As I touched on above, communication is key. I always email the PR to let them know when the sample has arrived and to give them an expected date of publish. Once the post has gone live, I email them again with the link and ask if they have any edits they'd like me to make. Once they're happy with it, I fill in the corresponding forms on my PR spreadsheet and I know that I've fully completed the review.
I'm adding this as the final point as it's not something that is going to be relevant to everybody. After a while, you may want to consider using a business address or PO box to have samples sent. For me, I knew I'd reached this point when I started receiving unsolicited samples without any contact from the brands. It made me think about the amount of people I'd given my home address to, and I felt more comfortable using a PO box. One of the advantages of this is that I can pop along once a week and pick up all my samples at once. No more missed deliveries or waiting in for the postman- I just scoop them up and know that's my week of work. Sorted!
I'd love to know how you stay on top of PR samples for your blog.
Don't forget to download your spreadsheet here or your printable form here.
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