I don’t usually write Pro PR Tips about stories that carry my own byline, but man, I had to hold my nose when I pasted this bit into today’s story about the Yahoo/Facebook patent battle resolution. From the official press release:
Going forward, Yahoo! and Facebook have agreed to work more closely and collaborate together on multiple tent-pole and anchor events annually over the next several years to provide unparalleled experiences for consumers and world-class sponsorship opportunities for advertisers.
As usual, emphasis mine.
Am I supposed to know the difference between a tent-pole event and an anchor event? Can one event have both tent-poles and anchors? That would seem to me to be the safest. And what if there’s neither? Is that like doing something outside in the open air?
I just don’t know how to dress for these things, assuming I get invited. And can I bring a guest? Someone help a guy out.
You know you’re competing for attention with PR reps who actually do the work, right?
If you can’t be bothered to write a subject line, why should I bother opening your email?
Check out this screen grab. All these emails are from the same firm, which specializes in infuriating me. ”Helpful app?” “New Tech Trend?” Yeah, that stands out.
Bonus crime! This outfit also likes to use “Follow up” as a subject line when it’s the first message on a topic.
By the way, this is from the same PR company responsible for Pro PR Tip #178: Fool me once. The only reason I haven’t blacklisted this entire outfit is because it’s such a good source of bad PR.
See also: Pro PR Tip #98: Make it snappy, Sweetheart.
This email warmed my heart. Or would have, if I had one.
Hope you are well! I wanted to reach out to introduce myself and let you know of a new client my agency has brought on board which I think will be of interest to you. My name is [musical girl's name] and I’m an Account Superstar at [whatever] Agency, based in SF. My official title is Assistant Account Executive, but I strive to be a stellar reference to my close contacts as well as tell my client’s stories as they deserve to be told – and “AAE” just doesn’t serve my goal justice!
Short Pitch… [Sorry, didn't get this far]
Listen, you adorable young thing, I’m a crusty old jerk who doesn’t give a damn about your hearts and unicorns. Can we just get straight to the business? Thanks.
Related Pro PR Tips:
Tip #167: Don’t bury the lead
Tip #98: Make it snappy, Sweetheart
If you get me on the phone, and you ask if I got your e-mail, which you shouldn’t, but if you do, and I say, “I don’t see it here,” then I’d like you to know a few things.
First, I’m not lying. When someone reaches me and asks me that question, I check.
Second, I also believe that you sent it. It’d be a dumb thing to fib about.
So where is it?
Deleted. And already forgotten. Sorry.
Journos get lots and lots of email pitches. We delete out of hand the ones that don’t look right for us, or anyone else we work with. When you call and I can’t find your email, it means that it was one of the messages to not make the first cut.
I don’t know how you should respond to this. You could try to pitch me on the phone. Most people do, and 99% of the time, I begin to vaguely remember the email. And why I deleted it. Awkward.
Or you could just save everyone a bunch of time and say, “I’ll re-send it,” and ring off. And not call back about it.
Don’t start a phone pitch with a geeky tech journalist by going on and on about the Super Bowl. I’m not saying that no tech journos are football fans, but the chances are significant that the person you’re pitching is not. From my office I can see three writers who see the Super Bowl as a great opportunity to go for a nice hike on a popular trail, since everyone else is indoors. Or better yet, hit the CostCo.
And if we were really sports nuts, we’d be writing for ESPN, wouldn’t we?
Hat Tip: Paul Sloan
Embargoes and NDAs are bad enough. The presumptive embargo is worse: where you send embargoed information along with the embargo notice, without first making sure your recipient will agree to honor the embargo at all.
But look! Here’s a new way to screw up: Burying the presumptive embargo way down in in the email signature. And not having a time on it, either.
[Four long paragraphs of pitch...]
I look forward to hearing from you — best,
[Some PR gal]
[SOME PR COMPANY NAME]
1.408.[phone #] office
Twitter: [deleted] Skype: [deleted] AIM: [deleted]
Please note: all information contained in this email is embargoed until Wednesday, January 25th, 2012.
Well, at least you put the critical bits in red…
Seriously, this is a recipe for a busted NDA and bunch of unhappy clients and journalists. So I’ll just sit back and watch this one explode. Thanks anyway.
Go read these tips!
Pro PR Tip #38: The Presumptive NDA
Pro PR Tip #77: Time warp
Pro PR Tip #98: Make it snappy
Why go to a trade show if you’re not going to take advantage of peoples’ interest there? Or the possible widespread press attention?
I found out about a cool gadget that was going to be shown at one of this year’s CES ancillary events. I emailed the company asking if they would send the CEO to come on stage with me at the CNET Live video booth to demo the product and discuss the market it’s in.
Three days later, I get this reply:
I am the only person there who will be manning the booth. Everyone else is working around the clock to fill our pre-order list, which is extensive. Thus, I will not be doing demos. We will have a video at the booth showing the machine in operation. I would be glad to talk about [the product], if you would like.
My advice is this: If you’re going to spend the time and money to go to CES, maybe take some of your people off the shipping desk for a day or two during the heart of the conference so you can go do your CEO duties of getting out and spreading your message.
Especially if, as is the case in this example, you’re running a small company that’s competing with larger, better-established competitors.
I sent the CEO of this company a followup. I asked, “Why are you going to CES?” He responded, “I don’t understand the question.”
Just because you take yourself seriously, it doesn’t mean I have to.
This tip is for everyone who’s pitching me to cover their smartphone case or revolutionary screen cleaning product at CES next week. You’ve been warned.
Hat tip: Paul Sloan
It's something about somebody exhibiting at a CES press event, I think.
I know, you think your email pitches look better if you put big, fancy graphics in them. But they don’t look so hot if your recipient has images blocked by default, or worse, is reading their messages on a smartphone with a slow data link. Or even worse, on an airplane with no connectivity.
Do you want your message to be pretty, or do want it to be read?
At the very least, put the actual content of the message in text up at the top of the message. That way, your recipient can read it regardless. Also, it’s much easier to copy and paste information from an email into a calendar or to-do list if there’s actual text to select.
Please banish this redundancy from your email subject lines:
As opposed to what?
Wait… there are answers! From Twitter:
- “Please Read …aloud, while standing on your head.” (@MattStubbs)
- “Please delete prior to opening” (@MrCippy)
- “Please perform a dramatic reenactment” (@snhuxc)
- And my favorite: “You mean I didn’t have to read all those other emails today?!” (@leebehrens)