Monday, May 4, 2009

Sample Requests: How to Lend Product to the Media

What is a sample request?
A sample request is an email or phone call received from a magazine editor, writer, producer or stylist asking to borrow your product for a photo shoot, taping or celebrity wardrobing.

About sending samples:
Editors, producers and stylists will want to see product first-hand, and in most cases will want to have it photographed by their own contracted photographers to give the visuals in the magazine a uniform feeling. Some publications, mostly regional and online publications, will require you to provide 300 dpi digital images.

When I send out samples, will I get them back?
Yes. When magazines ask for samples they are borrowing them and will return them to you following the shoot. Some regional magazines specify that they do not return samples. You can choose to let them keep the items and call it a marketing expense or you can opt not to work with such publications.

How to lend samples:
1) Ask for a shipping number. Almost all magazines will give you a UPS, DHL or Fed-ex number to use to send them samples so that you don’t have to pay for it. There are a few exceptions, Bridal Guide and WWD among them, who will ask you to pay to ship the product to them; they will pay for the return shipping.

2) Many times editors will call or email with requests for specific styles from your line but often you will receive a general, mass request with information about the story/stories and the date when samples will need to arrive. Study the request or the list of stories carefully. Which styles best fit the story? Never send items that don’t fit with the story theme, even if you want the editor to see them. It is better to include a look book or line sheet or email them an image of something they might like but that doesn’t work with their current assignment. Making more work for them by sending extra samples will dissuade editors from calling you for product in the future.

An example of a mass email sample request:

Hi Everyone,

Hope all is well. I am now beginning to work on 5280's July fashion page
which will begin women's fall 2007 coverage.

The trend for the month is menswear-inspired pieces and fabrics. So, boyish
looks like collegiate / military / safari jackets, coats, and pants; also
fabrications like tweed and plaids. As always, items need to be available
in the Colorado region. Please forward all ideas by this Friday and I'll
begin arranging shoot details by next Monday, May 7. Thanks so much!


3) Make a Sample Invoice. A Sample Invoice is a written record of what you send out to an editor or stylist. You should retain a copy for your records so that you can check in samples when they are returned and ensure that everything has come back. One copy should be shipped in the box with the samples so that the magazine, stylist or producer knows what you’ve sent and where to return your product. Your sample invoice should include:

• Your brand name
• Your press contact name and contact information. If you are a small brand this is probably the owner or designer. If you have an in-house publicist or an external agency, this will be their contact information
• The address where the samples should be returned
• The expected date of the return. If the magazine does not give you this information, record the return date as one week after the shoot date. For overseas shoots allow a few extra days.
• The editor, stylist or producer’s name
• The magazine, event or television show name
• The name of the story or event
• A list of the samples you are sending including style numbers, retail pricing and product descriptions

4) Ship samples on time. Editors are on deadline and typically need samples immediately. Fashion editors usually have a “run through” with senior editors prior to the shoot. The run through might happen the day before the shoot or several days before. For the run through they will have selected full “looks” (i.e. outfits) with accompanying accessories and shoes for review and approval. If you are asked to send samples in time for the run through, it is crucial that you get them there promptly.

Lending to Stylists
When you lend to freelance stylists for editorial shoots, ask for a Letter of Responsibility. This is a letter issued by the stylist’s employer (i.e. a magazine) that says that they are taking full responsibility for your samples and their return and that they will compensate you for loss or damage to the goods. It also confirms that the stylist has officially been hired by that magazine and ensures that the person borrowing your goods is not a thief impersonating a stylist.


1234 X STREET. NEW YORK. NY 10013

TEL. 212 222 1192 FAX. 212 222 1195

Stylist Authority for John K. Stylist

August 2nd, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

This is to confirm that stylist, John K. Stylist, has Fashion Magazine's full authority to pull clothing and accessories for use in Fashion Magazine. He is selecting samples for Fashion’s September issue, for a Cover shoot featuring Rachel A. Celebrity which will be shot August 8th 2009 in Los Angeles by photographer Jennifer P. Photographer. By doing so, Fashion Inc., d/b/a Fashion Magazine, assumes full responsibility for the safekeeping and prompt return of all items loaned. Furthermore this confirms that all boutiques and designers will be fully credited in stories appearing in Fashion Magazine.

Should you have any questions concerning this, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Sincerely yours,
Amy R. Editor
Fashion Magazine
Fashion Director
212 222 1192

Lending fine jewelry and timepieces:
When lending expensive fine jewelry or timepieces, it’s a good idea to have the magazine or stylist provide proof of insurance. You will also want to have your lawyer draw up a contract stating clearly that the magazine is responsible for the items and for their return.

* One LA stylist famously lost over $1 million worth of Harry Winston diamonds at a large arena! They were never found.

What if an editor, celebrity or stylist loves my designs and wants to buy something?
Well then, congratulations! If an editor, celebrity or stylist wants to purchase your designs you’re moving in the right direction. It’s also in your best interest to have influential stylemakers like these wearing your designs. It’s the best sort of advertising!

Companies have different ways of handling this. Here are a few of the most popular:

1) Offer a discount. These typically range from wholesale to 40% off the retail price.

2) Offer the product for free, as your gift. Newspaper editors generally cannot receive gifts but it’s par for the course with fashion magazines, stylists and celebrities. When gifting to celebrities it’s often a good idea to ask the stylist to photograph the celebrity in the item in exchange for giving it to them gratis. Either let them keep what you’ve sent them or wrap a new one beautifully and send it with a handwritten note on lovely stationery thanking them for their support of your brand.

Sample Gift Note:

Dear Emily,
We are so pleased that you love our gold cuff bracelet. Enclosed is one for you to wear and enjoy. Thank you for your support of (brand name).
Best regards,