Tip #59: Biting the hand

A pitch about a company that thinks it’s better than mine? They call that Bad PR. Even if you’re right.

Yours Truly,
  – “The Whopping Overhead”

Example follows…

From: [removed]
To: Rafe Needleman
Subject: Re: NetShelter Technology Media Passing CNET in Audience

Although perhaps unknown to you (and me) FixYa.com is the net’s largest consumer electronics destination, larger than PC World.com and PCMag.com. With this win, NetShelter in the next comScore cycle will likely over take CNET as the #1 property for reaching technology audiences worldwide. Not bad for an 8 year old start up operating on minimal outside funding.

NetShelter has positioned itself as the “media company for the online age” and is functioning more like a traditional media company (but without the whopping overhead of a CNET.) …

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17 Comments

Filed under Email, Relationships

17 responses to “Tip #59: Biting the hand

  1. JB

    Were they trying to recruit you to work for them? Otherwise, did they not realize who they were emailing? Maybe this should be part of an ongoing series of “Friday Funnies.” Thanks for the laugh!

  2. Why would they say it’s unknown to them too? Strange. But look – they got some coverage on your blog. ;)

  3. The Sender

    Could this not be a case of shooting the messenger just because you don’t like the message (which is entirely factual)? The cost structure of NetShelter is a fraction of CNET’s yet draws (now) a bigger audience. The fact is CNET has NEVER covered NetShelter and probably never will. For obviously reasons (aside from being “overhead.”

  4. This is not about the story. It’s about the pitch. What messenger in his right mind paints a target on his chest?

  5. The Sender

    Journalists are supposed to be objective about the merits of a story. The choice not to cover the developments in the pitch were subjective based on I’d say hurt feeling?

  6. Oh please. It takes a lot more than a lame pitch to hurt my feelings.

    But aren’t PR people “supposed to be” effective personal communicators? What if you did hurt my feelings? Then you have failed. You fail regardless. Style matters. Relationships matter. Context matters. No story is an island.

    Further, even if story you propose is great, look, here we are talking about you instead of the company you represent. And we haven’t even gotten into the obvious conflict of interest charges that would arise if I didn’t review your company favorably. That has already warned me off this story. You did consider that, didn’t you?

  7. The Sender

    No asked you to review anything. Simply to consider that NetShelter represents a media model of the future that is structured differently enough from CNET to operate more efficiently and still attract the same audience. THAT is a good story. I am certain that in your many years as a journalist you have gotten plenty of pitches you didn’t like or simply ignored. That you decided to call out this one I think in indicative of something more. Other CNET reporters got the exact same pitch and were not so “offended” that they wrote back an e mail that said: “Will be sure to not cover this.

    Yours truly,

    The whopping overhead at CNET”

    If I blogged about everything a journalist ever said or did that I thought was ineffective or unprofessional, I’d have no time to pitch NetShelter.

    • @The Sender: you hopefully had an objective by sending this info to CNET. Which was it?

      If you are the media & PR professional you say you are, you should have realized that it is quite hard for CNET to write about you what they think to be interesting for their readers.

      If they sincerely think that your offer is a bad one and write that, you will accuse them of having a (not so) hidden agenda. So that means that if they write about your great product, it can be only in a positive way, whether it merits it or not.
      Is that the fair and balanced view CNET’s readers do expect? I don’t think so.

      In those days where everybody pretends to be a journalist just because s/he can write messages over Twitter, journalists need to stay focused on their difference: being news-conscious and media-tors, filtering and adding value to a non-controllable flow of messages.

      Passing news without any added value might look a useful idea for readers. It is not. Therefore, we all need these jounalist to do what they believe to be fair.

  8. I’m not sure why The Sender felt like this was a pitch that would interest any journalist, let alone CNET. The subject matter (shifts in tech reader habits) is vaguely important but presenting like a drunk college football fan (“We’re #1! Woo hooooo!) takes away any chance that a reporter at will be interested.

    My thoughts on a kinder, gentler approach at http://rootspr.blogspot.com/2008/10/were-not-apes.html

  9. CK

    Right, but Sender, your job isn’t to write/blog about everything – that’s Rafe’s job. Your job is to effectively communicate information about your company to make sure journalists, potential customers or business partners, have accurate facts – no more, no less. It certainly isn’t to accuse people of having a hidden agenda if they don’t positively cover your company – or in this case, you.

  10. Robert

    It does raise the question of if Rafe was reacting to the comparison of netshelter to cnet; I think the pitch is appropriate – but can see why a cnet editor wouldn’t like it.

  11. Aly

    Curious why the sender would send the exact same pitch to other CNET reporters. there alone is an issue…

  12. Bobby

    But this isn’t Rafe’s job, it’s something he does for fun …

  13. Meghan

    Sender – you may be right that there’s a story there. But not for CNET to cover. Because it’s partially about them. And in the not-so-positive way. Had this been a pitch you sent to WSJ, NYT or ever MEDIA (hell, anyone NOT associated with the CNET brand) you might not need to be trying so hard to defend yourself. Knowing a good story is part of the job. Pitching it to someone who might actually cover it is the other part.

  14. AN

    WTF is “an 8 year old start up”? Isn’t there a statute of limitations on being a startup?

  15. Mickey Blue Eyes

    If NetShelter and FixYa.com are so huge and more popular than CNET and other websites that I have heard of, why have I never heard of them?

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