Thursday, May 7, 2009

AllThingsD's Peter Kafka on playing hide and seek with publicists

In public relations, what comes first, the chicken or the egg?

AllThingsD's Peter Kafka ("Media Memo") was at the receiving end of this eternal PR dilemma when he posted the tweet to the left.

How do you convince a reporter to check out your embargoed news or product when you don't want to tell them about it in advance?

"Microsoft tried this a while back," Kafka told me, "with what ended up being their giant table computer... well, they're Microsoft and most people won't say no. I did. Worked out fine."

So you'd rather people just come right out and say what it is they want to show you?

"In English. In small, precise words, please, thank you very much."

And will you keep it under wraps? Or is that off the table?

"If I agree to an embargo, I'll honor the embargo. But no, I won't automatically keep a pitch under wraps if the pitch itself was newsworthy. I'd write about it. But here's the thing -- NONE OF THIS IS NEWSWORTHY. That's why you're pitching me. If it was newsworthy, you wouldn't need a public relations professional drumming up interest, so don't handicap said professional."

Do you really think most execs and developers know how to handle their own press, Peter?

"No, they don't. I get a new iPhone app pitch a couple times a day, so it's unlikely I'll pay attention to any of them. I certainly won't pay attention to one that won't say what it is."

So how do you sort the newsworthy apps from the poseurs?

"Some are obvious, like when Amazon creates a Kindle app. The others? Those are the ones that tell me in two short sentences what the app is and why it is I should care. Here's a pitch from a CEO.

This my ideal pitch:


Hey Peter


Hope you are doing well and congrats on the new-ish blog. (Last time we spoke you were still at Alley Insider.)

The UpNext team is launching a new IPhone App next week and we are meeting with NYC tech writers this week to give in person demos. (Imagine the upnext.com website on your iPhone).


Honestly, I am not sure if our app fits within the context of MediaMemo but perhaps one of your colleagues at All Things D would be interested in learning more. I would appreciate any introductions to them if possible.

If you are interested, please give me a couple of available times on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and we’ll set something up.
Best, -- Danny Moon CEO, UpNext

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