Tip #200: The oxymoronic press room

Oddly, the press room at an industry event is not a good place for press releases, nor for press relations people to hang out. It’s where writers go to write, for the most part. Some press rooms have stacks of press releases that journalists can grab if they want, but the pros rarely do.

Here’s the worst thing you can do, which just happened to me at the MobileBeat conference: Walk up to a writer hunched over his computer, you know, writing, and drop a press release folder on the table next to him while mumbling something about what it is. Trust me, this is not going to get you coverage. As Drew Olanoff said to me, “I don’t like real-world spam any more than email spam.”

Bonus Tip! You see all those MacBook Airs that we’re writing on? Yeah? Then why did you put a CD in your press kit, and not, say, a USB stick?

Mega Bonus Super Score! Good job not labeling the CD, either.

Unwanted, unloved, and unlabeled.

See also:
Pro PR Tip #111: Fling.
News.com coverage from MobileBeat: Zynga CEO on future of Mobile.

Yow! I made it to Pro PR Tip #200! I’d like to thank all the hard-working PR professionals who’ve managed to screw up and make this blog possible. You guys rock. 

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Filed under Meetings

Tip #199: What kind of circus is this?

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.

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Filed under Compassion

Tip #198: Don’t subject me to this

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.

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Filed under Email

Tip #197: Assistant Executive Superstar. Got it.

This email warmed my heart. Or would have, if I had one.

Hi Rafe,

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]

Emphasis mine.

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

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Filed under Email

Tip #196: Gone and forgotten

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.

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Filed under Email, Phone

Tip #195: Super what?

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

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Filed under Compassion, Phone

Tip #194: Don’t bury the embargo

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

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Filed under Email, NDAs