Worst pitch of the month: Qpid.me and sharing STD results via text

Summary:This month's roundup of terrible PR pitches include using Facebook to find out if a spouse is cheating and "the cubicle walk of shame."

Last month, we started a new column here on ZDNet dedicated to the worst pitches we receive from PR reps.

At first I was a little nervous at how this featurette would be received, but turns out a lot of my PR friends spread the word via email and Twitter -- either out of entertainment or as a warning to their colleagues.

Either way, let's continue as there will likely never be a shortage of fodder for this topic. The 194 voicemails on my phone can attest to that.

See also: Worst pitch of the month: Plantronics and the mass employee wedding

In February, the overwhelming theme that strung most of our winners together was Valentine's Day. Honestly, I don't see how business technology and romance mix in any plausible way. Perhaps I should give more credit to PR professionals for trying -- but really they were just trying too hard.

With South by Southwest earlier in March, naturally there was a deluge of pitches each day.

(For reference, while I typically receive many story ideas and press releases each day in my inbox, it tends to downpour at certain times of year, such as the holiday season and the few weeks leading up to CES in January.)

Considering SxSW attracts a wide range of interests and characters itself, there's not much room for surprise when it comes to just how ridiculous some of the story pitches were.

Nevertheless, one should never underestimate how outlandish (not to mention inappropriate) some of these emails can get.

Here's the worst (or maybe just creepiest) one, by far:

Is South by Southwest (SXSW) the new Spring Break for Emerging Tech Geeks? The must have mobile technology for SXSW isn’t a festival guide or chat/photo feature – it’s a new website that allows you to verify and check someone’s STD status on your mobile phone – Qpid.me. *Qpid.me is a free website for people who wants to privately share their verified STD results with anyone via text message or online*.

Geeks love it! It’s a known fact that there is a huge amount of "Sex" that happens at SXSW as creators, indie film makers, up-and-coming stars flock there to spark ideas, find investors, create together and…have sex. The panel sessions on Sex and Creativity tend to be most popular. But is the free love of the festival worth the after effects of coming home with an unwanted gift like some Spring Breakers, an STD?

If you would like to speak to the creator of Qpid.me – Ramin Bastani, please let us know!


It's not that such a service isn't useful. Certainly, it's a good idea to discuss things with a partner, and this potentially removes some of the embarrassment factor.

But besides potentially surpassing the boundaries of mobile notifications, all the spring break/SxSW/tech geek references are all just a bit much -- especially considering, once again, this doesn't relate to business and enterprise technology at all.

(Or at least not on the surface, but I digress...)

I also feel that I should include a few honorable mentions -- albeit they are not SxSW-related. However, this is more of a subcategory for the worst email subject lines.

Topics: Tech Industry, Mobility, Social Enterprise, Developer


Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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