- These high school theater kids put on a totally awesome ‘Alien’ play Saturday 3:59 PM
- Behold these photos of Elon Musk, but with Elizabeth Holmes’ eyes Saturday 3:11 PM
- Barbra Streisand gets canceled over remarks about Michael Jackson’s alleged victims Saturday 2:09 PM
- Report: Florida man raped Texas teen after posing as Instagram celeb Saturday 12:14 PM
- Lori Loughlin’s daughters, Olivia and Isabella, could be banned from USC forever Saturday 11:46 AM
- ‘Starfish’ is a heartbreaking tale of BFFs, grief, and apocalyptic alien invasions Saturday 10:35 AM
- How to stream UFC Fight Night 148 for free Saturday 10:00 AM
- The kids are making scantron memes instead of studying Saturday 9:29 AM
- Every installment of Hulu’s ‘Into the Dark,’ ranked Saturday 6:00 AM
- The internet is mocking Robert Mueller’s report deadline Friday 7:53 PM
- Instagram blocks some anti-vax hashtags—but still has far to go Friday 6:20 PM
- Study: Netflix released more originals than licensed titles last year Friday 2:26 PM
- Laura Ingraham, Dinesh D’Souza slam journalist for having a job Friday 1:40 PM
- Netflix is testing a cheap-as-hell mobile-only plan Friday 1:08 PM
- Astrology app Co-Star’s bizarre push notifications are now a meme Friday 12:18 PM
I hear Updog is going to be at CES this year.
The Consumer Electronics Show, aka CES, is a tech conference and media frenzy unlike any other. Thousands of companies desperately vie for media attention, hiring PR firms charging anything from $5,000 to $50,000 for “pitching” (i.e.: emailing reporters to schedule interviews/demonstrations on the show floor).
This is usually achieved, to reporters’ great sorrow, by taking the list that the show organizers provide of every single media attendee of the show and sending them the same email(s) about their clients. The result is, in the lead-up to CES, reporters find their inboxes full of irrelevant garbage-email that has no consideration of their beat, what they do, who they are, whether they’re even going to CES, or if they even care about the content.
I run a PR firm, but also still write, so I signed up for a media pass to literally cover how PR people conduct themselves at CES. The result was seeing into the eye of the storm: A dark realm of badly-targeted turd-pitching that amounts to “hey, I don’t care where you write, or who you are, but I sure do charge a lot of money for it.” The reason that this is bad is because it is a) disrespectful to the reporter, b) horrifically unethical to the client, and c) quite inefficient. The logic is that you’re “pitching hundreds of reporters,” when really all you’re doing is flinging your poop at a wall by copying and pasting some version of the same message over and over and over.
I’d also love to say that this was simple, foolish young PR people, or startups thirsty for coverage at a saturated tradeshow. The truth is that almost every single major multi-national agency and giant technology company will use the month of December to vomit into inboxes worldwide.
I am a bad target for this practice; I’m actually the worst target. I literally have made a career of attacking other PR people for being awful.
So, when I woke up yesterday, I decided to simply respond to each CES pitch email with a simple request: That information about the client was sent to me via “updog.” I think we all know why. Apparently my recipients did not.
The results were depressing. I managed to nail two major agencies, and a few mid-sized ones (ones with retainers ranging from—and this is a guess based on knowing who they are—anywhere between $10,000 and $50,000 a month). Some were offended that I’d misled them with my request for information via updog—and that I must have “plenty of time on my hands.” I didn’t respond with the obvious irony: That their lazy, bullshit pitching must leave them with plenty themselves.
But plenty walked into the updog unaware, blindly asking me the question I desired to answer the most: What’s updog?
As my joke spread on Twitter, eventually, I was shown the subject header of an internal agency email warning of my dastardly updogging.
None of us can win the war against CES emails, but I’d like to think I this was at least a well-fought battle.
Photo via angermann/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
Ed Zitron is a journalist and the founder of EZPR, a national media relations firm focused on consumer-tech startups. He's also the author of 'Fire Your Publicist: The PR and PUblicity Secrets That Will Make You and Your Business Famous.'