7 of the Worst Pitches of 2014


Now that 2015 has begun in earnest, it’s time to return to the most thankless part of the PR professional’s job: pitching clients’ stories to journalists, bloggers, and all contacts in between.

Here at PRNewser, we try to use our own experience for the benefit of our colleagues specializing in media relations. We sympathize because everyone sometimes sends half-assed pitches.

That said, there’s often no better way to help people learn what to do than by demonstrating what NOT to do.

A couple of facts for context: 1) most of the emails in this list were intended for AgencySpy, our more notoriously gossipy sister site that is primarily read by people who work in the creative departments of advertising agencies. 2) The senders of these emails ranged from employees of the world’s largest PR firm to those at organizations whose names are still new to us.

Keep that in mind while reviewing some of the least effective pitches we received in 2014.

1. The “get paid for sharing things” app:

Who is the intended audience for this app? Most importantly, how is it relevant to the people making the ads that the client presumably wants to discuss?

“Are free content generated outlets like Twitter and Facebook coming to an end now that users can get paid to make content go viral? _____, a new social networking app that will deliver 80% of the advertising revenue on user generated posts to the pockets of its users enticing users to watch any and all commercials, has already shared $30,000 in ad revenue to its users.

_____ is a FREE iPhone and Android app that allows people to post pictures or videos to friends or other BonzoMe users and GET PAID to do so!”

2. The new entertainment organization:

How much do we love the personalization and specificity in this pitch?

“Dear Journalist,

Hello. We welcome your coverage of this important new organization, the ______, serving the business of creating, producing, promoting, marketing, distributing, exhibiting and otherwise benefiting from the new multi-screen entertainment business. Targeting the top executives at relevant companies, the organization and its planned _____ Summit next year promises to be an essential organization for the entertainment business, producing results and satisfying the needs of a demanding audience.”

3. The amorphous software product:

We can see why this one might be relevant to the people responsible for choosing which software a given agency uses. But the pitch offers no context and no angle — and a quick search of the blog in question would find no mention of any software products.

“‘The file was too big and bounced from my inbox.’ ‘Which version of the file is the most recent?’ ‘What items do I need to approve this week?’ These are just a few frustrating exchanges between marketing teams and their creative agencies that you may come across on any given day.

As work teams become more flexible, mobile and dispersed than ever before, they require technology that allows them to work together whenever and however they choose. Enter cloud-based, team workspace platforms.”

4. The oddly specific sex toy:

We somehow ended up on this company’s marketing mailing list, though we can assure you that we have never owned, searched for, or even conceived of such a product. Call us very mildly intrigued.

“How are you keeping?

I wanted to let you know ___ has created a sex toy designed exclusively for bankers, named ___, set to launch next week.

Many bankers want more from their profession and their investments; they also want more from their intimate investments. The new ___ will be the first sex toy in history that can satisfy the hedonistic sexual cravings and excesses exhibited by members of the financial world.”

A second pitch from the same address read: “Get $3000 off Gold Sex Toy as Owned by Beyonce and Jay Z.”

5. The facial recognition password manager:

This product + a working 3-D printer = a great Black Mirror episode about someone blackmailing a top executive by using a replica of his head to steal all his passwords.

I am writing about your blog. My client, ____, will be launching a password manager that uses your face to log into any website and I think this would be interesting for your readers.

6. The erectile dysfunction drug:

Presented without comment…

“Prolongz, the first FDA-approved over-the-counter homeopathic drug for the treatment of premature ejaculation (PE) that takes on a strip form that can be taken orally, has been ranked No. 1 in the personal care category for July and August of 2014 by the Jordan Whitney ‘Greensheet’ website.”

7. The KISS Photo App:

Our only response to this pitch is a question: how many drunk people came up with the idea before it became a reality, and how angry are they right now?

kiss app

On a serious note, most of the pitches we receive are a little closer to appropriate. These exceptions to the rule may also serve as a reminder that automation is not always your friend.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: January 5, 2015 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/7-of-the-worst-pitches-of-2014/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT