As a PR professional, there is no better feeling than securing great coverage however there’s no denying it’s not as easy as it used to be.
The media landscape is changing, journalists are busier than ever and with every brand under the sun fighting for coverage, it’s not an easy ride getting a brand or product in print, on digital platforms or broadcast media. That’s why, more often than not, product placement has come to rely on advertising, paid for by a business. It’s rare for brands to receive free product placement nowadays…but it’s not impossible!
What is product placement?
In layman’s terms, product placement is a marketing tool, whereby a business will have its products or services included in some form of media. So when you see a product or service appear in a TV show, or on a popular celebrity’s Instagram page or in a print article, the company behind it has usually (but not always) paid for that product or service to appear there.
The practice of product placement has been around for decades, but marketers have become much more sophisticated in the ways they use it. Whereas previously a very obvious form of sponsorship, product placement is much more subtle nowadays and when the appropriate thought process goes into where the product is placed and the audience is correctly targeted, it can be a very effective marketing tool.
Advice on securing product placement PR
Remember – the relationship between PRs and journalists/key influencers is a two way relationship, we want coverage and they need subject matter and products to talk about so here are my top tips on how to secure great product placement…
Keep your content snappy and easily digestible
Product placement is visual so give your content to a journalist in a visual and easy to read template.
Target the right media, at the right time!
If you’re trying to secure product placement for a fitness related product, chances are this is going to be a topical subject come January – right after the Christmas binge.
Target your media list at topical and appropriate times! It’s also highly likely journalists will send out alerts via Gorkana or Response Source asking for product suggestions for a particular themed feature so keep you’re eyes out for those. If you don’t have access to either of those platforms, it’s always worth tracking journalist requests on Twitter too – search for hashtags like #journorequests.
Get out and about
Despite the digital age, I still strongly believe in meeting and engaging with key journalists and relevant influencers in person where possible. These relationships and LinkedIn connections could be key in driving coverage for your product.
Be careful of the bribery act here but there’s no better way to convince someone that your product or service is fantastic than by getting it in front of them or letting them experience it. Build some budget into marketing and PR plans for media gifting and/or press trips.
A press day
Hold a press day and get media, consumers and key influencers in front of your product and/or service. Make a hashtag and watch social media fill with fantastic content, the perfect recipe for brand awareness.
Have high res images available and samples in stock – be prepared to change the images colour, size, logo etc. for that production editor. Also note that good photography can be the difference between securing excellent product placement or nothing at all so it’s worth investing in a good photographer if your budget allows.
Know your audience
It’s highly unlikely that 16 year olds are going to see Pat Butcher as a fashion icon, Kim Kardashian on the other hand and you’ve nailed it. It goes without saying, always have your target audience at the forefront of your mind and think about the media outlets and influencers who would make your product aspiration to your intended audience.
Now I’ve offered a few tips on securing great product placement, here are a few examples of brands doing it well – perhaps they’ll provide some inspiration for you!
Digital product placement
Sam Faiers – Rimmel Cosmetics
Sam Faiers is a popular reality TV star with an impressive social media following (1.9million followers on Instagram). Her audience demographic is interesting too; she’s a mum with her own ITV TV show so a large proportion of her followers are young mums. And she’s also a fashion icon, owning her own fashion line and hence a large proportion of her audience are young fashion focused bloggers/teenagers.
Sam is pictured below on her Instragram page posing with some cosmetics from Rimmel, this form of product placement exposes the brand to a potentially new and highly engaged audience – with a high proportion of disposable income. Likely sales increase? Tick! Brand awareness- Tick!
Be careful when building this type of product placement into your budgets though. Due to pressures from consumers, most influencers now place #AD on these posts to highlight they have been paid to promote the product or service.
There is still a lengthy debate on whether influencers views on the product/service are genuine and trust-worthy since there is a monetary gain to be had. Nevertheless, this form of product placement is still proving lucrative for many brands. You can read more on the #AD debate here.
Broadcast product placement
Love Island – Guess Clothing
ITV’s reality TV show Love Island attracted 2.43 million viewers for its final episode on 24th July, the highest number in ITV2’s 19-year history. And of course finding your products featured in one of the biggest shows of the year presents a real opportunity for any brand. Quiz clothing were quick to jump on this, gifting contestants with outfits ahead of them entering the show, in the hope the outfits would be worn by the celebrities during filming.
The brand was essentially able to capitalise on the popularity of the show and the contestants– simply by sending out a few outfits!
Print product placement
Woman’s Weekly Magazine – Gift Guide
Lifestyle magazines create the perfect haven for product placement opportunities. Pictured above is the 2016 Christmas Gift Guide in Woman’s Weekly magazine. It’s a given that there will be gift guides for many occasions throughout the year in many print publications, as well as other regular product led features covering all product categories – tech, toys, beauty, fashion etc!
Features and shopping editors will therefore always be on the look out for new and exciting products and targeting them is a really effective way for PRs to receive product placement in print.
Now there’s no doubt that some of these examples above may well have been paid for by a brand, however, product placement doesn’t always have to mean spending big £££s.