19 March 2013 Guest Contributor

James A Martin has covered mobile tech since the mid-1990s and wrote the award-winning Mobile Computing blog for PC World. His columns have appeared in The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Travel + Leisure,PC World,Macworld, and many other publications. And he is also the co-author of Getting Organized in the Google Era, published by Broadway Books/Random House. (You can visit his personal website for more.) 

It’s easy to see that James knows his stuff. And this was something that was readily apparent as the interview-style Twitter chat progressed. We were discussing how to secure product reviews for smartphone and tablet apps, to help anyone wondering how to get their new mobile app reviewed by someone of influence and in the know. 

Anyone could join in or ask questions of James (via @james_a_martin) or me (via @becderrington) or just follow the discussion using #ProductReviews. But for those of you who couldn’t do any of the above, I’ve extracted the most important points below:

Q1: Do you work with PR folks to learn about mobile apps avail for review or do you search for apps on your own? 

Usually search on my own. I start with Google Sci-Tech News to see what's trending and I also keep a running list of interesting apps I come across or hear about from friends.

Q2: How can PR folks get your attention about a potential product review?

Put my name in the email’s subject. Works every time. Also make the subject heading interesting. And a @mention tweet can get my attention, or a Twitter DM. 

It also helps if a PR person knows my blog and responds directly to a post I've written.

Q3: What information do you need up front?

Tell me the news hook, if there is one. Why is app cool or interesting? How is it different? Give me details briefly. The shorter and more specific the email, more likely I am to read it. Think like a blogger when you pitch. What would appeal to you if you were a blogger?

Q4: What factors do you consider when determining if a mobile app is interesting enough for you to review?

I consider three factors primarily: 

Factor 1: Newsworthiness - Is the app new or has it been recently updated? If app isn't new or updated, can you tie to a current event (like Super Bowl, Oscars)? 

Factor 2: Page views - I look at daily traffic reports on how my blog posts have performed. I pay attention to topics consistently drawing high page views and those that don't get much. Anything to do with Microsoft, Office, and Apple do well (no surprises there).

Factor 3: Personal interests - Since it's a blog, I get to indulge that to some degree. I will probably never review games. (Have zero interest.) But very interested in apps that make biz life easier; apps for creating content; social media; and apps in music, film and entertainment.&

Q5: Any specific criteria that must be met in order to qualify for a CIO product review? 

It just needs to be mobile app for iOS, Android, Windows 8 etc. Not a web-based or desktop app.

Q6: How old or new should the mobile app be when a PR person pitches it to you for review? 

The newer the better. I try to either review new or recently updated apps or apps with a current hook, like travel apps near holidays, etc. Once in a while I'll review an app just because it interests me.

Q7: Do you require a reviewer’s guide? If so, how detailed should it be? What must be included? 

Nope. I try to experience an app like other users and they don’t have a guide to help them.

Q8: For a product review, do you always need to speak with end users? 

No. My blog is just reviews from my perspective. But I’m open to hearing from top CIOs or well-known people on their favorite (‘favourite’ for us Aussies) apps.

Q9: How do you prefer to be contacted – by email? Phone? Twitter? 

Email is best. Though I hate to say that because I receive so many, it's hard to keep up. If I don't respond [to an email pitch], please follow up. I appreciate it. Too many things fall through the cracks.

[Follow up/Pitching by] Phone is probably the worst way. If I don't recognize caller ID, I don't pick up. Email's the preferred option for pitches. And for following up as well. Twitter can work, too.

Q10: What do you like best about working with PR people on reviews? 

PR is a hard, stressful and necessary job. I appreciate it. You're super busy. I like it when a PR professional has read a few of my posts so they know what I cover & don't. For example: A PR guy read post I did on map apps and told me how his client's differed, along with a promo code to download it. Loved that whole exchange.

Q11: Are you currently looking for a specific kind of mobile app for a future review? 

I don't plan too much. Things move so fast. Today's hot app could be old news tomorrow. Short answer is no. Just always looking for what's cool, useful, new, different and interesting.

Well, there you have it. I think James was incredibly generous with his tips on how to get your mobile app discovered by a tech journalist/blogger. What do you think?