Tag Archives: Poor PR

PR Post Mortem: Brew What Your Mama Gave Ya!

21 Mar
Image by The Smithsonian Institute, used under a Creative Commons Licence

Image by the Smithsonian Institution, used under a Creative Commons Licence

Nothing brings the Bad PRs out of the woodwork like a national celebration, and in the UK, the next big day of celebration is Mother’s Day, which takes place on Sunday, the 30th of March, unlike Mother’s Day in the US, which is in May.

The following PR appeared in my inbox late last week, and it was so bad that I felt I had no other option but to share it. As usual, I have stripped out any identifying information about the client, because it’s not their fault that their PR/media person has written and submitted such a poor PR. [UPDATE: After publishing this piece on Friday, a few people quite rightly argued that this PR could have been influenced by pressure from the client, which is true. I was more than a bit unfair in my original throw away comment about the PR/media person, and I perpetuated a misconception about PR companies. Sorry folks, I’ll be more open-minded next time.]

However, in some ways, I really hope somebody from this company can eventually appreciate that this PR is about as useful as a chocolate teapot to everyone involved.

Anyway, terrible, terrible puns aside, here is the worst PR I’ve received so far this year.

Are you going to give her an “old bag” on Mother’s Day? Or are you going to make her a nice cup of [REDACTED’S] tea? [What? Old bag? Her? Are you calling my mother an old bag?]

At last, an alternative to the messy tea bag ~ [REDACTED]~ [Hold up, did you use two tildes (~) there? That makes no sense, as a tilde means ‘similar to’ or approximately. You need to use a hyphen (-).] the new way to drink a richly flavoured and fragrant cup of Organic [Why the capital O?], Fair Trade [Fair trade, unless you’re talking about The Fairtrade Foundation, in which case it’s two words] tea. [Also, I’ve never had a problem with tea bags, they suit me just fine.]

You remove the [REDACTED] from its water and it does not drip ~ NO MESS. [NO NEED FOR CAPS LOCK, OR A TILDE]

It’s made from triple laminate food grade foil that goes in your recycling bin after use ~ NO WASTE. [I’ll be honest,  you’ve lost me, I don’t care.]

Unlike a tea bag it does not require squeezing nor wringing to extract the flavour ~ NO BURNT FINGERS. [Has anyone ever burnt their fingers on a teabag? You can use a spoon to remove the tea bag, you know. Have you been making tea with your hands all this time?]

Also, the [REDACTED] innovative design lets you use it to stir the tea ~ NO NEED FOR A TEASPOON. [But if you had a teaspoon in the first place, then you’d wouldn’t need REDACTED.  JUST BUY MORE TEASPOONS, PEOPLE.]

To make a cup of [REDACTED], you simply remove the [REDACTED] from its paper envelope, put it in a cup, add boiling water and gently stir the [REDACTED PRODUCT NAME] for a few minutes. Let it stand for a minute to further infuse, then use the [REDACTED PRODUCT NAME] to stir in your sugar and milk (if required when making english breakfast tea) [You mean English breakfast tea]. It will now be fully infused, so remove the [REDACTED PRODUCT NAME] and tap it once on the edge of the cup to discharge any excess water, then pop it in your waste recycling bin.

Each [REDACTED PRODUCT NAME] is packed at point of origin using premium grade, organic tea leaves, harvested, selected and processed in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) [Sri Lanka hasn’t been known as Ceylon since 1972. It’s called the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. What next, will you refer to Iran as Persia?] Fair Trade estates.

Eleven different blends are available, so there is a blend of tea to suit all tea lovers! [Praise be to tea.]

black teas: ~ english breakfast, earl grey and apple cinnamon [English breakfast tea. It has a capital E. While we’re at it, there should be a capital B at the start of this sentence.]

red teas: ~ jasmine lotus, strawberry and vanilla peach [Capital letter at the start of a sentence, please.]

green teas: ~ ginger, lemon grass and peppermint [Capital letter.]

herbal infusions: ~ fruit “goji” berry (caffeine free) and herbs n’ honey (caffeine free) [Oh, I give up.]

To obtain a 15% discount, use discount code MOTHER at [REDACTED]. [Nope]

Or click on this link: [Link removed, sucker]

[REDACTED PRODUCT NAME] can be found at several tea and coffee shops and are also being served at hotels, spas, restaurants, hair salons and beauticians. 32 piece packs of [REDACTED] and 3 sizes of Mahogany boxes (an office/ bar box, a restaurant/hotel box and a boardroom/hospitality box) full of assorted flavours, can be purchased from selected retail outlets or on-line, [Online is one word. ONE WORD.] from [REDACTED].

Thank you for taking the time to read this and please do not hesitate to contact me for more info or samples. [Nope. Oh, you’ve subscribed me to your email subscription service! I have just unsubscribed.]

Infuse your Passion! [I’ll infuse your head, mate.]

PR Numpty. [Yes, they did put a full stop after their own name, bless.]

What They Did Right:

  • Nothing, absolutely nothing

What They Did Wrong:

  • This is not a press release, as it doesn’t contain any news, the tone is highly promotional
  • If you just want to promote something, and have your words published verbatim, then don’t write a press release, BUY AN ADD.
  • Poor angle – “Mother’s Day? Oh, mums like tea, let’s push our client’s tea product. Hooray!”
  • No introduction or hello
  • Fairtrade/Fair Trade
  • English breakfast tea
  • On-line is not a word
  • SUDDENLY, TILDES, EVERYWHERE
  • Let’s be honest, this is a really boring email
  • General errors – no capital letter at the start of a sentence, etc
  • Referring to Sri Lanka as Ceylon – I think this was to use up words and try to look clever
  • Adding me to their mailing list
  • Emailing me in the first place
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PR Post Mortem: I Don’t Care About Your Discographic

30 Jun
Disco Image by PTGreg, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

Disco Image by PTGreg, shared under a Creative Commons Licence

One of the main gripes I have with bad PR is that some PR companies and PR officers don’t research the publications that they contact, and so, I often get press releases that aren’t in my publication’s remit. Sadly, this is something that happens quite often, and it annoys a lot of journalists. Welcome to PR Post Mortem; a new feature on The Taylor Trash, where I unlock the archives and examine the cold, dead cadaver of bad PR pitches past.

This press release was sent to my TPR account (and remember, we only review theatre) by a PR company specialising in promoting film.

Hi Amy [Hello!]

Hope all’s well? [I can’t complain, I’ve had a long day at work, I’m watching season five of Sons of Anarchy at the moment, how are you?]

Festival season has arrived [Oh no, please don’t let this be about a music festival] – Glastonbury is upon us! – [I never go to music festivals] and disco is making a smash return this summer. [ Making a smash return? Disco never died to us fans, PR lady] Leading the way with his iconic brand of dance and funk is one man hit factory, Nile Rodgers. [Oh yes, I’ve heard of Nile Rogers, he’s one of the most talented musicians/composers/producers/Guitarists around, but why have you made his name bold?]

Before Nile is joined by the rest of his band, Chic, on the West Holts Stage at Glastonbury on Friday night, [I won’t be at Glastonbury] Warner have produced an exceptionally informative Discographic, [You mean an infographic?] covering the copious members of pop royalty Rodgers has worked with including Madonna, Davie Bowie, Michael Jackson, Will Smith and most recently Daft Punk! [Why is this in bold as well? I know who these celebrities are. Is it something to do with getting lucky? Bad joke, sorry PR lady, but I can read, you know.]

Brush up on your Chic knowledge and take a look at the graphic by following the link below: [I know a lot about this band already, because I love disco, so, no.]

The Chic Organisation: Up All Night is out to own on July 1st 2013 and can be pre-ordered here: [Not linking to this, sorry]

For any questions or if you would be interested in receiving a review disc let me know. [So, this isn’t an invitation to review? You just wanted to send me your shiny ‘discographic’? I feel dirty]

All the best,

PR Numpty

I love disco, I love Chic, I love Nile Rodgers, but I hated this approach. However, the best part of this PR was hidden in the footer, underneath the signature, where I found this little snippet of joy.

This message was sent to Amy. If you no longer wish to receive email from us, please follow the link below or copy and paste the entire link into your browser. [Link]

This PR company not only sent me a PR that was irrelevant to my publication, but they also opted my email address into their email distribution service, which I never agreed to, which I then had to opt out of in order to avoid additional pointless press releases.

However, this is not the end of the story; a few days after I received this email via this mail distribution service, I received a similar email directly from the PR company which I also had to unsubscribe from in order to opt out of further correspondence. Oh, the joy.

What They Did Right

  • They began with a greeting
  • They used my name
  • They kept their pleasantries short

What They Did Wrong

  • They pitched a theatre publication a film/DVD story
  • They included a pointless ‘Discographic’
  • They assumed that I didn’t know about Chic/Nile Rodgers – I do, which they didn’t realise, but they assumed that I (and other journalists they contacted) were ignorant of the joys of D.I.S.C.O.
  • They signed me up to a third-party mailing list without my permission
  • They subscribed my email address to their internal mailing list without my permission

Post Mortem Recommendations

  • Pitch the right publication
  • Research the journalist
  • Just because infographics are ‘in’ doesn’t mean you should include one in your pitch
  • Don’t subscribe email addresses to a mailing system. Ever.
  • Ah, freak out!
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