Category Archives: Email

Tip #218: Enough with the auto-nagging

Is there a new PR outreach service that people are using to automatically follow up on boring and mis-targeted press releases exactly 24 hours after they were first mis-sent to me to skip over?

Seriously, I’m getting several of these a day now, and they’re infuriating. Now I have to ignore them twice.

Too much email.

Unnecessary reminders.

Also, using the Yahoo email indicates that you don’t know where I’m working. That’s ok, I’ve moved frequently in the last few years. But it would be a bonus if you knew I am at Maker Media now.

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Tip #213: Know your audience

Understanding jargon is a big part of covering technology. But no one reporter knows all the buzzwords. So saying that “everyone is talking about” acronyms you can be sure that most people have never heard before (except the geeks in your particular industry subset) is a waste of an opportunity to connect.

Dear Rafe,

Everyone is talking about SDN and NFV. But at Mobile World Congress 2014, [[company]] will go beyond the buzzwords and conduct the first public live demo of its Distributed NFV (D-NFV) solution.

On the other hand, you don’t want to talk down to people, either. Because then I’ll do another Pro PR Tip that’s the exact opposite of this one. So you can’t win.

Unless you know who you’re pitching.

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Tip #212: This Pitch Will Amaze You!

It’s come to this, has it? Pitches are taking style hints from Buzzfeed and Upworthy? While it may work to get pass-along readership from the jamokes surfing Facebook, when you’re trying to pitch a writer, maybe focus on substance.

Or not. What do I know? This might be the way we all communicate now. “Kids! Get ready for school. What you’re going to learn about fractions will blow your mind!”

Subject: This woman went to the Mac App Store for personal finance software. What happened next will amaze you.

She bought Quicken Essentials.

She bought it because it was the brand she trusted — because that’s what everyone uses.

The poor woman never even noticed that Essentials is a four-year-old product, developed for… Snow Leopard. It hasn’t seen a single update in almost 10 months. It’s practically abandonware.

But she soon figured out: hey, this sucks. And so she returned to the Mac App Store, and bought the next-best-selling personal finance manager, iBank 5. It’s full-featured, it’s only been out a couple of months, and it’s already had four updates! The developers really care!!

In fact, the fifth update, iBank 5.1, is now available as a public beta. It incorporates over 100 new features and fixes.

When the rest of the world gets the message, this iBank 5 thing is going viral.

This really doesn’t make me want to cover the product. Way too much hype, not nearly enough substance. But I do appreciate the energy.

By the way, I’m working now a new site, Yahoo Tech. Send me your (informative) consumer tech pitches here.

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Tip #210: Why so mysterious?

This may be the worst cover letter I’ve ever received.

Subject: [Company I don’t know] Launches Exciting New Solution Upgrades

Dear Rafe,

I hope this email finds you well.

If you haven’t already heard, [Company] announced today the general availability of a major new set of upgrades to our solution. For your convenience, I have included a copy of the press release below.

We’re making amazing progress with our solution, largely due to excellent customer-driven feedback and the fact that we have a phenomenal development team.

If you’re interested in learning more, please feel free to contact me and I’ll be happy to share more information on the value proposition we bring to the market and/or engage in a demonstration of our solution’s capabilities.

Kindest regards,
[Some guy] (press release follows)

What do you think the chances are that I will read the press release? I’ll tell you: Zero. Because this email just annoyed me. It says exactly nothing about what the company does or why I should care. Next!

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Tip #204: It’s a press release, not a graduate thesis

While there’s something perversely beautiful about a press release that’s aimed way over the heads of the reporters who are likely to get it, please remember that the generally-accepted protocol is to at least hint at what you’re talking about in plain English, so the clueless journo who receives it can figure it out if he or she knows anyone who possesses the knowledge to decipher it. Then it can be forwarded. Opaque releases get dumped.

Happy Holidays! Thought I’d update you on LexisNexis Big Data as we roll out new use cases in the upcoming year!

HPCC and Hadoop are both open source projects released under an Apache 2.0 license, are free to use, with both leveraging commodity hardware and local storage interconnected through IP networks. Both allow for parallel data processing and/or querying across architecture. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that certain HPCC operations don’t use a scatter and gather model (equivalent to Map and Reduce), but HPCC was designed under a different paradigm and provides a comprehensive and consistent high-level and concise declarative dataflow oriented programming model.

One limitation of the strict MapReduce model is that internode communication is left to the Shuffle phase. This makes iterative algorithms that require frequent internode data exchange hard to code and slow to execute (as they need to go through multiple phases of Map, Shuffle and Reduce, ea representing a barrier operation that forces serialization of the long tails of execution). HPCC provides for direct inter-node communication at all times and is leveraged by many of the high level ECL primitives.

Another disadvantage for Hadoop is the use of Java for the entire platform, including the HDFS distributed filesystem — adding overhead from the JVM; in contrast, HPCC and ECL are compiled into C++, which executes natively on top of the OS. This leads to more predictable latencies and overall faster execution — we have seen anywhere between 3 & 10 X faster execution on HPCC when compared to Hadoop on the exact same hardware.

Would love to explain more — any chance to set up a meeting or call on this?

Best,

[Professor Incomprehensible]

When I was a tech magazine editor, my general rule was to make 10% of the stories in each issue over the head of the majority of the audience. I wanted to give readers something to shoot for, and to show them what was beyond the horizons of their knowledge.

But I do not think this is a good guideline for press releases.

Hat tip: Pat Houston.

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Tip #202: I’ll take unrelated tangents for $400, Alex

I’ve seen plenty of pitches that stretch from current events to product news, but this one wins the Infinite Gap award, no question:

Hi,

We’ve all looked forward to this summer’s movie blockbusters, Spider-Man and Batman we’re both good movies but the real excitement starts with Object Storage :-) I wanted to share with you the top 5 must haves to look for when evaluating an Object Storage solution. Give it a read below, feel free to use the content and let me know if you need more info.

PS: Batman was the better movie, thoughts?

A list of 5 ultrageek things related to “object storage” follow. The company name isn’t even mentioned until the “about” paragraph after the list.

And although I hate to kick a decomposing horse, please, PR folk, learn English. Apostrophe’s have they’re place’s. Elsewhere, generally. Also, regarding smileys: If you feel the need to wink at me in text, rewrite that sucker.

Finally, What do you think you’re doing associating your product with a tragedy? The Batman movie is tainted. At least to journalists, who always have an eye on the news.

Thanks to: Stephen Shankland

See also:
Pro PR Tip #184: Piggyback
Pro PR Tip #167: Don’t bury the lead

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Tip #201: Don’t you dare cut me off

That is what they say about YC startups, isn’t it?

Ok, maybe not so much a tip, since watching out for this all the time could drive you insane. But maybe you want to consider what your company name might look like if it gets truncated through no fault of your own.

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