Ask an experienced blogger, a brand’s PR, or anyone who is related to tech reviewing and reporting since long, they’d tell you that the most common question they get from newer bloggers is – “When will I get a review unit?”. Trust me, even I used to do that a lot. But then, I (with my brother Amit Bhawani) learned things by myself and knew why things happen the way they are happening currently in the industry.
Before we get into the reasons, let me ask you to think what are you going to do with a review unit – Review it, right? Nothing else. But then, who are you reviewing it for? For any audience? for your friends? or for the brand itself?
If you have a good follower count and there are people actually waiting for your review of a particular smartphone, I am sure the brand and its PR might have already noticed you and they are in touch with you for sending the smartphone. Consider yourself unlucky if that is not the case.
If you are just doing a review because you are a tech blogger and reviewing a smartphone is a part of it, then what is the brand going to gain from it? Face it.. everything is related to benefits here. You won’t review a phone if you don’t benefit from it. If you don’t see any benefit, then you chose the wrong profession.
At this point of time, when I am into tech blogging since over five years, I don’t see every brand contacting me even for sending press releases, keep aside the device units for review. But should I cry about it? I haven’t chosen tech blogging for this. Opinions are not always based on the device itself. Opinions can be made on a lot of things. I would not name even a single brand here, but an issue with a particular brand a few years back has made them ignore me even today.
Now, let’s get into the reasoning part. I will be on point and talk based on facts and experience.
1. Talk a lot negatively about the brand, you will get ignored.
It is obvious. Unless you also have a huge following that can help you criticise the brand for not being good to you, they will plainly ignore you if you don’t talk well about them.
2. There are limited units, and there are several bloggers.
Say a company is launching a smartphone today, you expect it to be there at your doorstep tomorrow because you are a “blogger”. Wish it worked that way, but the ratio of no. of bloggers to the number of devices available usually is much higher in India than it is everywhere else.
3. Brands work on numbers.
And they should, otherwise, there is no point in sending units at all. They look at how interactive websites are, how much can they gain from a review on a magazine, a website from the media, etc. Just sending out review samples because you are a blogger and can do a review is not wise.
4. Take this bluntly, but “It is not the brands’ duty”.
I was told this, not when I requested but when this discussion came in after an event and a group of bloggers was discussing on how companies get selective. A representative of a company had to say it and even if it looked harsh, it put across the message. Where’s the rule book that says that a brand should send a review unit if a review has to be done? Whatever they are sending is only for the convenience so that the bloggers don’t have to purchase the unit and later sell it after the review is done.
5. Be polite, be patient and it will arrive.
“Hey, can you send a unit across for review once it is available?” is much better a question to ask than “I want a review unit of this phone. When will you send it?”. Even the PR professional is a person just like you trying to be good to you. Delay your review and see how they’d still be nice to ask an update about it. What gives you an authority to be harsh on them?
Also, be patient. If a brand has just about 50 units to share and 300 bloggers waiting for it, there are chances that the ones who are going to give a better value to them, will be getting it first. It doesn’t mean you are being ignored. It is just that you have to work harder to get into the list.
But this brand sends units even before the launch, why can’t you?
Apple doesn’t send units even after the launch, or months after it. Every company has their own way of handling the media, handling the bloggers and even the marketing strategy is quite different. Don’t make a brand your favorite for sending a unit across much earlier than others are doing it. You are a reviewer who reviews a phone, not of the people behind who sent it.
So-called influencers are getting units faster than me. Are bloggers not given similar respect?
It is a win-win for the brand when an influencer is talking only good about them and is receiving a unit from the company to do so. If you still feel that it is a better thing to do, change your profession 😉
Tech reviewing isn’t about taking sides. A brand knows that you can be ruthless and go completely critical on a device if it doesn’t perform well. An influencer, on the other side, won’t do it. You now know why they get the units. It is again something to do with the marketing strategy of the company.
So, what should I do if I don’t get review units?
When we began reviewing phones, none of the companies were in contact. We didn’t even bother doing that because we used to purchase the phones to review them. “Blogging as a passion” is a myth nowadays and everything is a business. There’s a balance sheet attached.
Buy a phone worth Rs. 15000, review it, sell it at Rs. 13000-14000 and repeat it with another device. You are thinking to build a brand, not churn out profits out of every review of yours, so be prepared to loosen your pockets until you build a good audience base and then, you won’t even have to contact the brand.. they will contact you.
Good luck with your tech blogging! 🙂
Note: This is from a tech blogger’s Point-of-view. There might be several other reasons but I’m sure I kept the main point across.