An open letter to PR people

Public relations folks often ask me the best way to approach the media, which I appreciate because in the lead-up to and during CES, we tech media types get BOMBARDED by “visit our booth” requests – followed up by “we didn’t hear back from you, please visit our booth” repeat requests when we don’t answer the first one.

Since I have my own Web site, I thought I’d bitch and moan about PR behavior, both during the CES frenzy and all other times. If you’re a PR person, bear in mind I have done your job (thankfully only for six months) and my wife is a media relations person so I know what a tough job you have and how nasty some of us press types can be. So this bitching is done with respect.

1. Do some research about me. I write to consumers, usually older ones (mostly at Tech Goes Strong, an NBC Universal site aimed at boomers). So don’t send me pitches for B2B products, apps or software for teens and young adults, or behind-the-scenes technologies the consumer will never see. I always get cheesed off by emphatic pitches for stuff I will never write about, which even the most basic research into what I cover would tell you.

2. Price? Availability? Photo? Seriously. If you’re announcing a new product, don’t make me chase you down for these basic details (and if you attach a photo, it needs to be at least 500 pixels wide, but a link to high-res images would be best).

3. Don’t make believe I responded in your follow up. Don’t put “re: ” in the subject line unless I’ve actually responded to an email from you. You’re not fooling anyone; all you’re doing is pissing me off.

4. I don’t do booth appointments. Unless you’re a major company, I will not come and see you at your booth – I spend way more time shuffling between meetings than in the meetings themselves, and then end up searching for you and/or waiting for an executive to finish a meeting. And I don’t do off-campus meets – it’s a least 90 minutes just for travel to/from the LVCC to your hotel, unless it’s the Renaissance or maybe the LVH, which is 90 minutes of time I’m not visiting booths. If you want the press to find you at CES, get a table at CES Unveiled, Pepcom/Digital Experience (ask for Jon or Chris; feel free to mention my name) or Showstoppers (ask for Steve or Dave; feel free to mention my name). And DEFINITELY don’t call me (just email, please) asking for a booth appointment, and DEFINITELY DEFINITELY do not have a new hire or intern who doesn’t know me cold call me for an appointment. It’s insulting.

5. I like paper. At CES, when I’m pounding out new product blurbs like these late at night back in my hotel room, a one-sheet on your product is MUCH easier for me to deal with than constantly plugging and unplugging thumb drives (Sony does the best paper new product cheat sheet). And with more of us media types toting around MacBook Airs and other ultrabook laptops or iPads, a CD-ROM is completely useless. Or, just a card with the press site URL is good, too. Or, a paper cheat sheet with a URL for more info/photos. That’d be great.

6. Don’t ask me to send you a link. It’s called Google Alerts. Writing about stuff is my job; finding stuff written about your client(s) is your job. If I send you a link to my post about your gizmo, I’d have to do it for everyone and I’d never get any work done.

7. Your product is not revolutionary. Touting your gizmo as changing the world as we know it will only make me more cynical than I already will be. Unless you’re unveiling a real-life version of Star Trek’s transporter, just tell me what your product does/problem it solves. As a tech historian and near 30-year-veteran of the CE wars, I think I’m smart enough to judge your gadget’s relative value to the world for myself.

8. Dinner time is family time. Outside of CES, I’m not fond of post-5 pm events. I work long enough hours and – don’t take this the wrong way – I would rather have dinner with my wife than with you. Lunch is fine, though.

Again, all of this is done with respect, to improve our relationship and increase the odds that I’ll answer your email and write about your client(s)’s whatever.

About Stewart Wolpin

I have been writing about consumer electronics for four decades, including news, reviews, analysis and history for a wide variety of consumer, niche and trade outlets. For the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), I annually update the industry's history and write the official biographies of the CTA Hall of Fame inductees. Aside from writing about consumer technology for a variety of consumer, tech and trade publications, I write a blog and do market research for Digital Technology Consulting. In the non-tech world, I have written "Bums No More: The Championship Season of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers" and "The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According to Hoyle." Check out my work at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five × four =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.