Tip #184: Piggyback

If your news can’t stand on its own, trying to attach it to another passing story won’t help.

Hi Rafe,

The new Siri app for the iPhone 4S does almost everything… almost. That’s where [[company’s]] newest [[clever name]] case comes in. Designed for the iPhone 4 (but a perfect fit for the 4S too), the slim smartphone case that includes space for cards and cash… So after Siri reminds you to stop at the bank, you’ll have somewhere to stash your cash.

This very typical example takes a hot news item and over-leverages it to pitch something that seems, at least to this jaded writer, completely unrelated. The announcement of a new voice-control technology for the iPhone cannot reasonably be used to pitch an iPhone case, unless you’re writing Sky Mall catalog copy. Just send us the product news, if there is any. Leave the sophomore analysis to us; it’s what we’re paid for.

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6 Comments

Filed under Email

6 responses to “Tip #184: Piggyback

  1. Love the blog, Rafe. And much of your criticisms of PR reps are well founded. Lazy…uninterested in understanding market trends…spray and pray approach with the media.

    You’re off base on this one though. This pitch is actually quite thoughtful and does a good job of relating a product to a broader story. Plus, the PR person in this case understands your editorial focus.

    Please don’t believe for a moment that journalists are the sole owners of market insight and creativity. That’s what quality marketers, public relations pros, sales execs, etc. do every day.

  2. Just found the product (I think). Doesn’t help that their name has 2 possible choices for pronunciation. Similar to Tip 180. If I have to guess how to pronounce your name, you’ve failed.

  3. StrategicGuy, I don’t mean to claim that only journos have insight, not at all.

    But as I said on G+, “Good writers don’t like being spoon-fed company-serving pitches. Especially when it’s clear from the email that the same blasted ‘idea’ is going to a million people. I didn’t mention that in the post, so here’s Bonus Tip #184a: Don’t have your email return line be ‘A237294xxx@distribution.cision.com’ (no kidding).”

    I got feedback from other journalists that got the exact same pitch, so I don’t agree that this PR person “understands my editorial focus.” Furthermore, I have never once voluntarily written about a smartphone case. This is as close as I’ve gotten: http://news.cnet.com/8301-19882_3-20035992-250.html.

  4. This product may very well be a tough one to push into the limelight in a bloated market of accessories, requiring more savviness than others might require to ignite the audience, but that in no way excuses the fact that this was indeed the work of an amateur hack with too little thought and time invested in the finished product.

  5. Is that why BOL is going to weekly from daily? So they can spend more time on their homework and maybe graduate their analysis to junior from sophmore?

  6. Pingback: Tip #202: I’ll take unrelated tangents for $400, Alex | Pro PR Tips

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