PR blunders or "mystery meetings"

PR blunders or "mystery meetings"

Summary: From time to time, I receive a note from a public relations person who represents one company or another that is clearly a disaster in the making. These notes appear to designed to pique my interest without giving me any information about the product or service to be discussed.

TOPICS: Tech Industry

From time to time, I receive a note from a public relations person who represents one company or another that is clearly a disaster in the making. These notes appear to designed to pique my interest without giving me any information about the product or service to be discussed. As I pointed out in a recent interview (see Meet the Influencers: Dan Kusnetzky) and I decided to post something about it here.

Here's some text from a recent example:

I wanted to gauge your interest in speaking with <insert your favorite supplier here> under embargo about a new product and a product enhancement they are announcing at <insert your favorite conference here>. Please let me know if you are interested in hearing about this news before hand.


<insert the name of  some PR professional>

What is the ideal behavior for a PR professional?

As I pointed out in the Speakerbox interview, I would prefer to work with people who are going to play it straight with me. That is they say what they mean and mean what they say. The product or the service announcement should be the "star" of the message not some contrived mystery.  In the end, this means that the PR person has respect for the analyst, consultant or journalist he/she is trying contact.

I'm often amazed by how far a few PR professionals will stretch a company's messages in the attempt to arrange a meeting (One could replace "stretch" with "lie about".) On more than one occasion, company representatives and I mutually agreed that the meeting was a waste of both of our time and the meeting was terminated after 10 minutes. What the company wanted to discuss and what the come-on message was were simply too different.

After a couple of experiences of that nature, I no longer am willing to respond to messages from that PR professional. If several professionals from the same organization use that tactic, I no longer will speak to anyone from that organization and I advise my spam filter to escort any future messages directly to the spam folder.

For the most part, however, I view PR professionals as a partner in the Kusnetzky Group's quest to gather data on market dynamics, analyze that data and turn it into some level of insight that will help both Kusnetzky Group clients and the PR company's clients.  Since we simply can't watch every corner of the market for system software, open source software or virtualization technology and know about each and every startup or moves of each and every established company in those markets, we welcome their calls and messages.

The message from this PR person hit one of my hot buttons. Let me say it plainly. I absolutely hate "mystery messages" that some send. If a PR professional wants to tell me something, he/she should tell me. Messages that tell me that company X is going to announce something interesting next week and then invite me to attend a meeting usually end up in the trash.

To offer the best possible service to KG clients, I have to prioritize the use of my time. Unless the PR person tells me more about what's the topic, the market, etc. I'm not going to waste my time.

Topic: Tech Industry


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • It sounds like the new SOP for PR

    Public relations and "press releases" seem to be in need of some sort of help. Perhaps a consultation with Jennifer Leggio?

    I read more and more about companies and websites being inundated with press releases that they have specifically asked not to receive, distorted PR, and vague, poorly worded, or downright mysterious invitations and press released that sound more like spam from illegal businesses and scammers than anything else.

    For legitimate concerns, these people are just generating bad PR. With something potentially massively useful as PR, you'd think competition and desire for success would provide for really good informative PR, not something that is more like a time-share condo sales technique.
    • I've offered to help as well

      I've found that the companies in question often don't know about the activities of their PR agency. They often appear to have no idea of how this approach is effecting them.

      I've found this to be a perfect time to offer KG help.

      Who knows, I might get some sort of advisory contract some day.


      Dan K
      • More power to ya

        Some of these PR people or firms definitely need some advice.

        I find it easy to believe that a lot of companies don't really know what their PR firm is doing. It seems quite likely, given the quality of some PR I've seen as opposed to the reputation of the company it is supposed to represent. ;)

        Sorry for the late post, ZDNet and TR seem to have issues with their email alerts system. I just got a bunch of old alerts going back to *last year*.
  • RE: PR blunders or

    As a PR professional and CEO of my agency, I am absolutely delighted that you posted this. It always angers me that the few who contrive ways to attract, rather than offer useful and substantial information are the "amateurs" that consistently "ding" reputation of our industry. I believe more of what you posted might very well cut some of this problem. The issue is that sometimes the principals of agencies are too busy to either review or train the account executives and stuff like what you printed gets out.

    It certainly makes a case for senior oversight and senior people with sound judgment -- which has been a theme of our agency for the last 23 years.

    Noemi Pollack
    • thanks for taking the time to write

      I speak with quite a number of PR professionals and, for the most part, think highly of them. I'm sure that it is very difficult to deliver another's message even if its neither complete nor accurate. It certainly must be even worse when the message isn't persuasive or interesting.

      Dan K