Posts tagged “PR”

Turns out that PR doesn’t rock at all

Months ago I blogged about being solicited to review some plastic food packaging product for this blog, and indeed never received the product. My blog entry about not receiving the product produced inquiries from the PR firm. The followed up with the “client” who was going to send me the product. Then weeks later, I still hadn’t received the product, and the PR person promised to pick some up at the store and send them to me directly.

I never received anything.

Yesterday I received an email from another person at the PR firm asking me if I’d be interested in sampling and reviewing the next product they are launching.

I passed. The whole thing was silly and ironic and curious, but it runs the risk of becoming annoying, so it’s clearly time to step away. I don’t have free crap, I have a correspondence relationship and a blog topic. No thanks.

Stones Club Show

The Rolling Stones played their usual end-of-rehearsal club show in Toronto. Local station Q107 suggested they were going to be simulcasting the show. Indeed, as the show started, they played a concert and played it very close to the edge of the truth. They didn’t identify the show they were actually playing on the radio as coming from 2002, they simply referred regularly to the show going on right now and their excitement about it. I don’t have any exact quotes but the DJ patter was designed to mislead, not clarify.

I grew up with Q107; I was horrified to see them playing a game like that with listeners. There were indeed fans around the world who stayed up late or got up early to catch this (supposed) simulcast, and were fooled. I wouldn’t have known what it was except that someone familiar with concert recordings posted to my Rolling Stones online community the actual source of the show being played. No doubt that others simply took the station at face value.

I wrote the station and encouraged others on the list to do so.

Come on guys – how’s about respecting your listeners instead of playing stupid games with them? If you aren’t playing tonight’s stealth Stones show, then tell us what show you ARE playing, don’t play coy games where you don’t actually literally directly honestly SAY that it’s tonight’s show but yeah (heh heh heh) you pretend that well, maybe we’ll reach our own conclusions.

That’s no way to treat people. Unless you are a telemarketer or a phone company. Q was never about the fine-print when I grew up listening to you. What the hell happened?

I have not heard back from the station, although others have. The first few I saw looked like this

Our sincere apologies if you are upset by the Q107 live programming with the Rolling Stones last night. We never claimed to be broadcasting the Phoenix show. We did say we were going to air live Rolling Stones. Our intent was not to deceive, but merely give the listeners who could not attend last nights show at the Phoenix, a
healthy dose of live Stones.

Thank you for your email, we appreciate comments from our great listeners.

The intent was absolutely to deceive. By being deliberately vague, they allowed people to come to their own (obvious, but incorrect) conclusions. Isn’t that deception?

Now we get this:

Thank you for your email note. We have received an inordinate amount of negative email concerning the Rolling Stones live broadcast which we aired last night on Q. You may have received a note from Q107’s Assistant Program Director, Michelle Dyer, or Andrew from Club Q…but I got thinking…”why should Michelle or Andrew take the hit on this?” While we did not come right out and say we were doing a simulcast from the Phoenix, we were perhaps vague in the way we positioned the program. I take full accountability for how this show was presented on air. Here’s what I’ve learned. Q listeners are extremely passionate about their music, and at no time should I take this for granted. It’s not like we aired bootleg Wham concert. Music matters here.

Having said this, here’s how I plan to take responsibility. I have asked John Derringer if I could be named tomorrow’s Tool of The Day. He has kindly said yes. So, tomorrow tune in at 8:20 to hear me take my lumps on air and apologize to our audience.


Blair Bartrem
Program Director

This is the most awesome response I’ve ever seen! And hey, they turned into a bit of a PR opportunity as well!

I’m so burned out on corporate misleading and evasion and being ignored and all that – and here we’ve got a company absolutely stepping up.

It’d be great if they got around to writing me back too, but I’ll take this as a victory for the consumer!

All right Q107!

TV Guide Relaunching As Larger Magazine

In some ways, it’s amazing that TV Guide has hung on this long; I can’t remember the last time I used any sort of printed television guide, and I’ve never paid for one, going back to when they’d come free with the weekly paper (I guess they still do, but that goes right into the recycling in our house). The story is interesting, if not particularly shocking, because it marks a sharp transition point in a slow and inexorable change in technology and associated consumer behavior.

full story

TV Guide is slashing the circulation it guarantees advertisers by about two-thirds and relaunching itself as a large format magazine with far fewer TV listings and more emphasis on lifestyle and entertainment, the magazine announced Tuesday.

The radical changes to TV Guide come as it struggles to remain relevant in an age where many TV viewers get their listings from on-screen guides provided by their cable companies or online.

The new TV Guide, which will launch with the Oct. 17 issue, will contain just 25 percent listings and 75 percent stories, versus the 75 percent listings and 25 percent stories it has now, the company said early Tuesday.

Rich Battista, the CEO of TV Guide’s parent company, Gemstar-TV Guide International Inc., said in an interview that the company’s research found that readers would be more interested in reading a magazine with fewer listings and more stories about TV shows and their stars.

Plus, we get the standard PR-speak where the company explains that their business decision was purely informed by research about consumer preference. These things write themselves!

PRESS RELEASE Rolling Stones Title New CD and World Tour “A Bigger Bang”

PRESS RELEASE The Rolling Stones new CD, ‘A Bigger Bang,’ will be released September 6, 2005, on Virgin Records. Continuing their historic songwriting partnership, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began the creative process last autumn and were later joined in the recording studio by Charlie Watts and Ron Wood. ‘A Bigger Bang’ features all new songs, and is the first studio album by The Rolling Stones since the 1997 platinum-certified ‘Bridges to Babylon.’ While in the studio recording the album last year, the band came up with the title ‘A Bigger Bang’ reflecting their fascination with the scientific theory about the origin of the universe.

That last sentence is hysterical. PR writers are the funniest people on the planet!

Maybe it went a little something like this

DISSOLVE TO Mick and Keith lying on their backs on the hood of their car, out in the parking lot behind Olympia studios.

MJ: Keef?
KR: Yeh, Mick?
MJ: Do ye ever….
KR: Wuzzat wuzza?
MJ: Ye know, like WONDER
KR: Zzz hwazuh?

MJ: Yeah, like wonder about how we all fit
KR: string usUP, lions cage

MJ: No, no, I know, I know, but where did it all ye know come FROM

MJ: Exactly man. Big bang theory. String theory. String cheese.
KR: Big bang?
MJ: Bigger bang! That’s it.
KR: Wuzzat wuzza?
MJ: no, you tell ‘er

End of Free Pretzels

Pretzels are out on US Airways. Besides the bad press this constant nickel-and-diming is creating, there’s the usual corporate press release, where they remind us that they conducted customer research in support of their action

Amy Kudwa, a US Airways spokeswoman, said the airline decided to end the pretzel giveaway after meeting with the carrier’s focus groups.

Amazing this one didn’t include the standard “our consumers tell us that…” line. I’m amazed at how often this appears in press release-driven news stories.

PR Rox, redux

In a previous entry I wrote about being approached by a PR firm (ineptly, at that) to blog about their new product. I still haven’t got mine yet, so I haven’t been able to blog about ’em. But meanwhile I found someone else’s experience/reaction in being approached with the same spiel. A good discussion ensues. However, I’m miffed no one asked me to discuss Glad Press’n Seal here on All This ChittahChattah. Hmm.

Wired immune to PR

In this Wired piece on Beck Steve Silberman writes “If you feel like you’ve been hearing about Beck’s new album everywhere lately, you probably have. Like most major-label hits, Guero’s ubiquity is the result of a carefully calibrated PR campaign that began long before the CD’s street date. But Beck and his label, Interscope, went way beyond the norm, supplementing the usual onslaught of TV, radio, and print marketing with a cross-platform blitz of iTunes exclusives, downloadable videos, and releases catering to digital consumers. This includes a deluxe CD/DVD-Audio package featuring a 5.1-surround mix and visuals you can control with your DVD player’s remote.”

Seems like he’s confusing PR with marketing and with product. PR is what got this piece written. We’re hearing about Beck right as we read the article. In a print publication. There’ll probably be a piece in the New Yorker, next weekend’s Sunday NYT, something on NPR, and of course Rolling Stone magazine and beyond. That doesn’t happen because of marketing – marketing helps create consumer awareness. The articles appear not because the journos are savvy and are tracking what’s hot, but because PR flack calls or emails or faxes to the right people at the publication and “sells” them on the idea of writing about it.

And Silberman knows that; he’s a professional journalist (ipso facto; he’s being published in Wired), so why this disingenous reporting on the technological innovation in product delivery and marketing under the label of PR? I guess it positions Wired as being immune to the machincations of the companies for whom they (and all of the media, including the “public” or “indie” media) willingly shills; rather we imagine Wired as investigative and cutting-edge. Which is of course, bullshit.

PR rox, dude!

Today I received this email

From: “Nichole Asher” at
To: steve at portigal dot com
Subject: Hefty Serve ‘n Store blog media outreach!

Hi Steve,

Let me start off by saying that I work for an agency that works for Pactiv, the maker of the new Hefty Serve ‘n Store interlocking plates & bowls. We are doing online outreach for the product through influential folks like yourself and would like to know if you’d be interested in participating in the product launch.

The company I work for is one of the world’s largest PR firms, called MS&L; we’re a subsidiary in Ann Arbor, MI called Hass MS&L. My full contact information is at the bottom of this e-mail.

I understand if you are skeptical, so I’m offering to send you links to web sites of other product launches that we’ve done and the responses showing this is legit. In fact, if you search Google using my company name (Hass MS&L) and the name of one of my co-workers ( you’ll find reviews of similar product
launches where these names are referenced.

So let me cut to the chase: Noise Between Stations is *the* place to hear about new products and such, and I think your readers would find the technology behind the interlocking plates interesting. I’m wondering if I can send you information and a sample so you can try the Hefty Serve ‘n Store products. They’re not on the market yet, but I have an order coming in pre-launch.

The plates and bowls are absolutely free, and in return the only thing my client has asked is that you post a review of the product on your blog.

Please let me know if this is something you’re interested in and I will add your name to the fulfillment list today.


[contact info deleted]

Now what was that? “Noise Between Stations is *the* place to hear about new products and such” – but this isn’t Noise Between Stations, it’s my blog, All This ChittahChattah. Pretty hilarious – she could have written “…is a great source of good information” or anything more general, but she had to say that it was “*the* place” – of course, then she was caught sending obvious form letters to different people, and oops, forgetting to change the contact info. We’ve all sent out dozens of resumes or whatever and we always hope that we make sure to change the info in our form letter, right? It would be a pleasure to work with you at MICROSOFT CORPORATION in REDMOND, WA. Etc.

But this person has it as their job, and they are trying to win over cynical bloggers (hey, by assuming that we’re already cynical, right?) so you’d think they’d be able to do a little better than that?

I called her on it and got this

apologize for that, I was reading the wrong blog name due to having multiple windows, so this was actually meant for you @ All This Chittah-Chattah if you are interested.

Anyway, I’m not proud. I’ll take the damn Hefty-whatsit and I’ll write about it. But I thought the poor PR effort was also blogworthy.

Stones Press Release and time travel

Rolling Stones press relese

Fans, along with hundreds of members of the U.S. and international media gathered at Lincoln Center, were treated to the ultimate surprise performance by the Rolling Stones. As the famous opening notes of ‘Start Me Up’ blared across the plaza, a giant banner with eye-popping signature tongue logos dropped revealing the band performing on the balcony-turned-stage of the 100 year old conservatory, Juilliard. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood played three songs for an ecstatic crowd, including ‘Oh No Not You Again,’ a new track off their upcoming CD along with their classic hit ‘Brown Sugar.’

This release came out several hours before the performance was scheduled. Written in the past tense but written and released ahead of time. Obviously, this isn’t journalism, but still seems unethical. Reminds me of the Mitch Alborn scandal recently.

Verizon CEO sounds off, subordinate backpedals

This SF Chron article was heavily blogged when the CEO of Verizon Wireless said some rather customer-unfriendly things

Seidenberg, for instance, said people often complain about mobile phone service because they have unrealistic expectations about a wireless service working everywhere. Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon and Vodafone, is the state’s largest mobile phone provider.

‘Why in the world would you think your (cell) phone would work in your house?’ he said. ‘The customer has come to expect so much. They want it to work in the elevator; they want it to work in the basement.’

Seidenberg said it’s not Verizon’s responsibility to correct the misconception by giving out statistics on how often Verizon’s service works inside homes or by distributing more detailed coverage maps, showing all the possible dead zones. He pointed out that there are five major wireless networks, none of which works perfectly everywhere.

while a recently published letter to the editor from a Regional President at Verizon backpedals quite a bit.

Increasingly, users do expect wireless service to work wherever they are, including at their homes and even underground.

That’s why Verizon Wireless spends roughly a billion dollars every 90 days to enhance the capacity, capabilities and coverage area of its network — downtown, along major roads, at airports, in residential areas and even in subways and tunnels across the nation.

We allow new customers to try our service for 15 days and return the phone and exit their contract if they’re not satisfied with how the service performs where they make calls.

Of course, it is impossible to make enhancements without installing new equipment, and in San Francisco residential areas, for example, it has proven to be especially challenging to gain community acceptance of new cell sites.

Nevertheless, Verizon Wireless is committed to maintaining its best, most reliable network reputation in the Bay Area and to expand its capabilities in all the places San Franciscans want to make calls.


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