Worst pitch of the month: Roundup of truly absurd PR emails in 2013

It's December, so these just HAVE to be holiday-related, right? Not necessarily.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

To close out the year, this month's entry would almost demand to be holiday-oriented -- because that's how news cycles will things to happen.

But following the bah humbug-like nature of this monthly column, I'm shunning the holidays in favor of highlighting a few of the most outlandish, inappropriate submissions sent to the inboxes of ZDNet writers this year.

To some extent, these emails sell themselves on how ridiculous they are, and I don't have to do much of an explanation of why they are appearing in this month's column.

Let's just start with this one from back in October, forwarded to me by the esteemed Ed Bott:

Subject: [NEW BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH STUDY]: Global Breast Appreciation Viewing Habits (Full Stats, Figures, & Charts Inside)
Date: Tue, 22 Oct 2013 19:41:59 +0000

Hi there,

How’s it going?

October’s here – which means it’s time to pay homage (and always important donations) to everyone’s favorite magical chest mountains this Breast Cancer Awareness month to find a cure for the deadly disease that robs us of so many lives.

The statisticians at Pornhub.com, the premier destination for online adult entertainment, have gone through the rigorous process of tracking breast appreciation all over the world for the past 5 months in honor of these momentous 31 days.

They’ve pulled out all the stops from bar charts to dynamic maps and word clouds to document global preference for “Small Tits” and “Big Tits”, natural vs. fake, and the common adjectives used to describe massive mammories and their itty bitty counterparts.

Check out some of the graphs and images below, but more importantly please visit Pornhub’s new research insights page (SFW) to view this data in a more comprehensive light.

Feel free to reach out to [REDACTED] if you have any additional questions.



Before anyone even thinks to do so, please don't send me angry emails saying I'm downplaying or making fun of breast cancer research or awareness. You wouldn't be more off base.

But this is entirely the wrong approach in getting such important messages across -- let alone the PR flack sending this email, once again, doesn't know the audience or writer's beat -- let alone the primary subject matter of the publication for which he writes.

And then there were the attached infographics. I'm not even going to go into how absurd they are. You can take a look for yourself.


There were more, but I simply don't want to display them. Let's move on.

Moving along to Thanksgiving, I almost feel bad for posting this one. However, it's simply pandering to the audience, which I never appreciate.

Just look at the subject line: "This Thanksgiving, be thankful for PR pitches about next-gen encryption technology..."

There are a lot of things to be truly thankful for, such as good health and being happily employed (I mean it), but throwing "next-gen encryption technology" in there just cheapens the point of the whole holiday. Black Friday and early Thanksgiving sales can do that on their own, thank you very much.

Here's the rest:

Hey Rachel,

Hope you're off for Thanksgiving, but just in case -- read this pitch! :) Coming to you with some security tech news -- a bit off your usual beat, but I saw your piece on Twitter's encryption update and wanted to introduce you to an expert on security and encryption: CEO of ID Quantique, Gregoire Ribordy. 

His company is on the cutting edge of quantum and other forms of encryption and helps banks, governments and others secure their communications. ID Quantique pioneered quantum key distribution technology and has a lot of insight into the future of data security.

Would you be up for a quick chat to hear more? Amidst all the hype about Google and Yahoo (no doubt Microsoft will soon be following suit) beginning to encrypt their data center communications, we also have very relevant first-of-its-kind product news coming up if that's of interest to you. 

Here's a recent Fortune story about IDQ in the meantime.

Let me know!

The pitch itself is actually fine, if not a bit boring. To be honest, I'd prefer straight-forward stuff like this over emails that try to grab my attention by citing Tweets about where I was last weekend. Creepy. (Albeit, journalists are news and email addicts, so we are never really "off" for holidays. So this only rubs salt in the wound -- or reminds us of our potentially unhealthy obsessions.)

Finally, this last note doesn't stem from one specific pitch, but rather a disturbing trend among a few dozen over the last few months.

For reference, I receive several hundred emails a day -- and that is not hyperbole. Between managing a fast-paced news cycle, longer projects, and running out to events on a daily basis, there's no way I can respond to every email. I'm not even going to apologize for that because that's just the nature of the game.

Yet still, some PR representatives appear to take this personally -- or assume that I will respond to each and every email -- because I'm repeatedly receiving more emails that include phrases like "TRYING YOU AGAIN" and even "TRYING YOU ONE LAST TIME" in the subject line. The use of CAPS is theirs.

I'm not sure if people are being taught that this is a way to garner the attention of a journalist, but in fact it just makes the sender come off as aggressive, hostile, and plain annoying. Such tactics are not going to get me (or probably anyone else) to respond, but rather just hit "Delete" faster.

Better luck next year.

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