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This is a list of corporate, marketing and PR buzzwords and tactics that drive reporters crazy. I've been in the news business for nearly a decade and a half, so I've dealt with my fair share. If I sound bitter, it's because I am.

Archive

Sep
27th
Thu
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The Flaky Expert Pitch

If you’re going to pitch your industry expert or executive for an interview, make sure the person is available before you do it. That would seem like common sense, but I guess not.

Sep
26th
Wed
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Fake PR stunt is just stupid

A PR trainwreck in the making. The clock is ticking on an apology for unnecessary calamity and concern this will cause (This is fake, in case you didn’t figure it out):

iPhone 5 PR Stunt Ends in Disaster Leaving 21 Homeless

September 26th, 2012, San Francisco, in a series of “stunts” to gain public attention for a new Apple iPhone 5 and iPad game launch, a startup went overboard causing massive property damage.

At 7:00 am, a crew drove 3 cranes, equipped with 1.5 ton wrecking balls, to a mid-city housing complex. The wrecking balls were painted to look like roundish flying Yumbies, adorable characters who smash through buildings and other structures in the game.

"It sounded like a clever idea," stated Steve Hoffman, the CEO of Playgearz, the company that created the Yumbies. "But there was trouble with the execution."

With a cheering audience, the cranes arrived at a supposedly abandoned housing complex in South San Francisco. Amidst the fanfare, they proceeded to carry out a demolition in the style of their game.

A bystander reported: “Things began to look odd when a couple inside the building started yelling for help and waving white t-shirts.”

A second bystander saw residents crowding fire escapes on the side of the building. Within 2 minutes, there were 237 phone calls made to 9-11.

"We couldn’t get their attention in the cranes," said a neighborhood security guard. "Most of them were listening to heavy metal music while operating the machinery. Giant painted wrecking balls were swinging everywhere."

Firemen reported that two thirds of the building was demolished in the failed stunt, causing an estimated $9 million in damages.

Tork, the Yumby foreman in charge, is quoted as having said, “They told us the building was condemned.”

A woman who was inside the building during the demolition told reporters, “I thought it was the beginning of the end… What are Yumbies? I don’t understand why this happened.”

Court hearings have been scheduled for early December. All Yumbies are being held without bail until the trial, while the San Francisco district attorney looks into whether game characters can be prosecuted.

About PlayGearz

PlayGearz is a mobile games studio located in San Francisco, California. PlayGearz develops and publishes apps and games for Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone & iPad on iOS 6, as well as Google’s (GOOG) Android, Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire, Facebook (FB), and Barnes & Noble (BKS) Nook. If you haven’t guessed already, the Yumbies are fictional characters who inhabit the PlayGearz games. Although they enjoy smashing things, it typically doesn’t cause physical damage or add to San Francisco’s housing problems.

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One Way to Lose a Reporter

Making a glaring mistake in a pitch for an “industry expert”:

Apple Expert & Member of Apple Reseller Board Available to Speak to the Benefits & Bugs of Apples Latest iPad Operating System

Apple’s recent release has been a major one and spurred an unprecedented adoption rate of 15 percent within the first 24 hours. With 200-plus new features in iOS 6, XXX, Owner of Apple re-seller XXX and a member of the Apple Reseller’s Board can help clarify what this upgrade means to iPad users. And as with any upgrade, she can help keep your audience up to date on any bug fixes.

"Most issues being reported about iOS6 Lion are being quickly addressed,” says XXX. “The upgrade offers a large number of features that are uniquely beneficial to users and well worth downloading right away.”

iOS 6 Lion? Okay, moving on…

Sep
19th
Wed
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The Hot Topic Drafter

Please don’t pitch a company or announcement that has an ultra-thin tangential connection to some hot topic (read: iPhone 5). It’s just a waste of everyone’s time and doesn’t exactly get you in the reporter’s good graces. (Image courtesy of Apple)

Sep
18th
Tue
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"Vector"

For executives, it’s corporate jargon for another choice. I guess it makes them feel like fighter pilots or something when they say it. It sounds silly to me.

Sep
7th
Fri
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The Oblivious Scheduler

I see this a lot in the tech world, but it really applies to any field. If there’s a big event or press conference (i.e. Apple launches in tech, the DNC in politics, etc), don’t schedule your announcement or event on the same day unless you want to get ignored. It just makes you look oblivious to the outside world. 

Sep
5th
Wed
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"Seamless"

Another example of an over-used bit of tech jargon that’s under the same category as “frictionless.”

Sep
4th
Tue
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The Off-The-Record Backtrack

If an executive is sitting down for an off-the-record discussion about a company or specific subject, don’t trot him across town to the next publication and have him spout the exact same corporate rhetoric on the record. That’s a quick way to burn some bridges.

Aug
31st
Fri
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The Multiple Reply Ploy

From a friend in PR (yes, I have those): If you don’t respond to an email pitch, the PR person will reply all multiple times so it looks like there’s a back-and-forth dialogue going on. The subject header will start with Re:, so it looks like the reporter responded. Of course, if you use Google’s Gmail for work, it doesn’t matter since the emails are grouped into conversations, and the PR person just looks silly and desperate.