Time to fire up the PR rant-o-thon, with two particularly egregious examples that I have been on the receiving end this week.

Both very different, but both quite outstanding in their way.

First, an email….

You’ve never heard of me. (Hi, I’m Jon!). I got your details after looking for the most superb, erudite and good-looking London blogs on the internet. For good or ill, you made it onto that list. You are list-worthy. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

Well, no not really. Being on yet another PR marketing list is not worth anything unless the PR is likely to be good quality and of interest to my readers.

OK. Blatant charm offensive over. I’ll get down to brass tax. We’ve designed a nifty tool that allows people to see how much they’re tube journey will cost in 2020. It’ll also have a route planner on there – and work on mobiles too.

So, just a few months after most Londoners were unable to say what their train fares would cost just a few weeks before they were due to go up because of the confusion caused by the government, someone thinks they can predict prices a full 6 years into the future. Really?

Obviously, this is going to be just some sort of PR stunt for some company, but to send out something that is so obviously going to be ripped to pieces the moment it is launched was quite worrying.

I have attached a picture of a ferret that has been dressed up. According to the internet, his name is Colin. I trust this will charm you into submission.

Have an absolutely wonderful day.

It didn’t charm me at all, and the chatty sign off sent me to the point where the saccharine levels hit peak sickness and I vomited unicorns.

Secondly, via Twitter…

Meg asked if I was “interested in mens’ work-wear at all?”

This seemed very odd, but as I do get a lot of odd press releases and pitches, and I am always genuinely keen to learn why people think I would be interested in something, I asked.

“Having looked at my blog, why would you think I would be interested in clothing?”

You’re wearing a jacket & hard hat which is exactly the kind of man who would be interested in our clothing

OK, I do wear a hard hat and a high-vis jacket in my twitter photo, but that doesn’t really explain why she is asking me about mens clothing for the blog. Is the blog the correct place to write about clothing?

“But having looked at my blog, what about it says “interested in clothing” to you?”

You have articles on bicycle riding & the public transport = appropriate clothing needed.

OK, fair do, I have got a single blog post about the Tweed Run right now, but no decent PR person pitches based on a single blog post. And yes, I write a lot about transport.

So, is someone reading about transport going to be the sort of person interested in mens work-wear? Frankly, no. Simply because the vast majority of you lot don’t work on building sites. And even the ones who do will not expect me to write about clothing unless there’s something really interesting going on.

I tried a bit more, but we nearly ended at…

By your subject matter&your profile pic I will continue to believe we share the same audience but,none the less,thanks4your time.

“We may share an audience, but you havent pitched a good story. Mens clothing = yawn. Exciting development in PPE = Good.”

You see, here is the crux of the issue.  I would have thought that anyone looking at the blog would not then reasonably conclude that I am going to just write a random blog post about mens clothing.

However, if the pitch had been about something really exceptionally interesting in PPE developments that affected, for example, railway workers, then you know, I just might have been interested.

It’s those often overlooked aspects of construction — the rarely seen enabling works, the equipment, the things that people never think about that can lead to a surprisingly interesting blog post. So, a really quirky bit of PPE news might have made me sit up in interest.

Hard hats with proximity sensors that vibrate when someone is too close to dangerous equipment might have been interesting — and they are fairly new — to write about.

But, this was her reply…

Dickies isn’t a yawn!Don’t even know what PPE is but def sounds like a yawn 😛

And that is the point that my jaw dropped.

Meg doesn’t know what PPE is. OK, most people don’t know what it is either, but it’s the standard term for the sort of clothing that people wear on building sites and railways. Hard hats, steel cap boots, hi-vis jackets. That sort of thing.

However, what’s worse is that Meg is trying to persuade me to write about Dickies Workwear. They specialize in selling PPE. In fact it says that on the front page of their website.

Meg dear, you’re trying to promote a company that specializes in selling PPE, and you openly admit to not knowing what that means.

I think they need to hire a PR person who understands the product.

Back to dealing with the decent PR people, and I have a few decent emails to be worked though over the weekend.


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  1. Max Stone says:

    Jon: “I’ll get down to brass tax.”

    Really Jon? Getting down to brass tax means stooping to someone’s level. I suspect you meant to write “brass tacks”.

    Jon: ” We’ve designed a nifty tool that allows people to see how much they’re tube journey will cost in 2020.”

    “They’re?” I think you meant “their”. Perhaps Jon should invest in a nifty tool to check his spelling and grammar. Especially if he wants to continue working in PR. Unless of course they were deliberate mistakes made in an attempt to gain more attention.

    Also, even if it were possible to know how much your tube journey would cost in 2020, why would you want to know that information in 2014?

    As for Meg, I think she needs some PPE to protect her from that burn.

  2. Kit Green says:

    I have yet to meet anyone under thirty that is able to construct a correctly presented sentence. Graduates with PR, Marketing or Media degrees are no better than any others.

  3. CarolineLD says:

    My favourite bit is “public transport = appropriate clothing needed.” I didn’t realise that taking the bus required a special outfit!

    • IanVisits says:

      I’ve generally found hazmat clothing to be essential on the night bus as protection against hazardous emissions of vomit and beer.

    • Barry says:

      If you watch The Big Bang Theory at all you might have seen the episode where Sheldon talks about wearing his “bus pants” over his regular pants (trousers for us Brits) when using public transport.

  4. slabman says:

    Take the money! I can just imagine you coming up with some ostensibly enthusiastic (but actually deeply sarcastic) product puff pieces that both the PR bunnies and we your loyal readers would consider ‘brilliant’ – though for exactly opposite reasons.

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