Making Deadlines and Foundling Gear

If you are a professional writer you have to deal with deadlines. And while the Internet has made deadlines more flexible and rewrites MUCH easier, still to make deadlines on a regular basis requires scheduling. That is the tricky part.

AR-found3.jpgUsually I need at least 60 days with a product prior to writing a review. That means I need to schedule it to arrive at least 70 days before my deadline so that I have time to review it properly. Some manufacturers understand that to schedule a product for review I need to know when it will arrive, but others don't get it.

I can't tell you how many times I've expressed interest in reviewing a product at a show and then, without warning, several months after the show a product just arrives, unheralded, on my doorstep. Most readers are probably thinking, "Nice problem to have - gear showing up on your door..." But in terms of scheduling, having components arrive unbidden can be a real problem.

AR-found1.jpgWhen a component simply arrives without warning I have to figure out three things - first, do I still really want to review it? Secondly, how and where will it fit into my schedule? And finally and probably most important, which publication will I review it for?

This is a good time to elaborate on the review process from my point of view. As a reviewer who writes for multiple publications, I have to be aware of what kind of products each outlet is most interested in and would like to see reviewed. Sometimes a publication contacts me with a product they would like me to cover. Other times I give the publication a list of products I would like to review and the editors select which ones will make the cut.

AR-fond2.jpgWhen a product suddenly arrives without having been earmarked and requested specifically for a particular publication I have to decide which publication would be most interested in it and then send out a query as to whether that publication IS interested. Also this product goes to the end of the cue of products that have already been scheduled for review. This can put a component as much as three months behind a product that has yet to arrive, but already been scheduled.

Another problem with equipment showing up unannounced is that the review samples could be sent to more than one writer for the same publication, at which point the editor has to decide who gets it for review - this often comes down to who requested it or suggested it for review first. Also this puts the writer in apposition of having to "shop around" a component to see if any of their outlets wants it for review. This should be a PR person's job...

fAR-ound5.jpgManufacturers often send more than one new product to a publication, expecting all of their new products to be reviewed in a timely manner. This is impossible to do because of space limitations - a print publication only has so many slots for reviews and they must be apportioned with some sense of equality. No one company, no matter how groundbreaking their new products may be, will get them all reviewed at once by a publication.

So what's the takeaway from this blog? If you are a manufacturer, no matter how much a reviewer is chomping at the bit at a show or after an initial PR release to review your new product, ALWAYS follow up and schedule a review and NEVER merely send out a component without reaffirming the reviewer's interest. Not only will you get more products reviewed this way, but they will be reviewed in a more timely manner...

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