My colleague in Helsinki, Tarmo Virki, received this e-mailed pitch on Wednesday. Why am I reporting day-old news, you ask? I must correct you: it’s two-day-old news.
You might wonder how often press agents pitch reporters with overtures that begin, “Yesterday, we did X,” “The New York Times reported X today. This is proof that it’s big news. Would you like to do the story too?” or “Earlier today, we issued a press release. Would you like to write it up now?”
Here’s another crop of special announcements emanating from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As with the first installment of “CES: Portraits in purple prose,” we bring you a selection of products and services that will revolutionize your paradigm, provide you with a turnkey solution and even pick the kids up from school and cast your vote for you on Election Day.
How to take over the entire world, vanquish capitalism and stop paying your bills with one software program—DO IT TONIGHT!
I was going to call this blog entry about this year’s Consumer Electronics Show press releases, “language crimes.” But that’s overheated. I’ll call it “overexcited claims” instead. It’s a sample of the sometimes purple, overwrought prose that press agents produce to show off clients’ products. At shows like CES, where 125,000 people overwhelm Las Vegas to gawk at consumer electronics for several days, there’s a lot of effort to get attention from harried, cranky journalists.
Odd results occur when you pair dramatic words with products that, no matter how much you might love them, don’t lend themselves to such… Byronic descriptions. Often accompanying them are typical buzzwords of the technology public relations corps, which after 15 years still leave me wondering if perhaps I haven’t mastered my native language.
In my second day of searching for the most interesting and interestingly written press releases about the Consumer Electronics Show, I came across what appears to be an invitation for 125,000 people:
LAS VEGAS–(Business Wire)– Gary Dell`Abate, best-selling author and long-time producer of The Howard Stern Show will host a party January 8th at Rick`s Cabaret Las Vegas, to which he has invited all fellow attendees of the world-famous Consumer Electronics Show. The club is part of the Rick`s Cabaret International, Inc. (NASDAQ:RICK) group of upscale gentlemen`s clubs.
Nearly every time I write an article that hooks into the big news of the day, I get within minutes or hours several e-mails that begin, “Dear Robert, I read your article with interest.” The spokesman or spokeswoman who wrote the article usually introduces me to a lawyer, professor, businessperson, doctor, philosopher or some other person who would like to add their point of view to the next update of the article that I write.
The e-mail usually includes a condensed resume of the person to whom I’m being introduced, and explains why that person is an expert and should appear as such in my article. I appreciate getting these. There is every reason to add more people to your list of contacts. Yet, these people never quite measure up to how they’re advertised.
If you’re going to Las Vegas, you might as well go to bed in public. And what better way to do that than on a mattress whose ability to achieve new positions is unrivaled? Leonard Cohen would be jealous.
Yes, it’s true. There will be a mattress on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center starting January 6 for the 2011 CES show.
Here’s a note that my editor received from the press agent for Line2, which bills itself as “one of the most famous and best selling apps for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (Android is being announced just before CES).” Among other things, Line2 “is a second line on your iPhone or Android phone that allows you to place and receive calls and SMS for free over Wi-Fi. When Wi-Fi is unavailable, Line2 will connect over a 3G/4G data connection or the cellular network. Never miss a call because you are out of range or Wi-Fi or cellular coverage.”
You have received the following last week but we just wanted to post it again for your convenience
The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as most people call it, produces approximately 1 million press releases for every person who attends the annual Las Vegas technology trade show. (Think: “There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.”)
Here are excerpts from my favorite one so far:
CARDIFF, Calif., Jan. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ – Mind Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets: JEDM), announced today that the Company’s management team will be attending the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Conference in Las VegasJanuary 6-9, 2011.
A regular and treasured reader points out that I sound like I could use some prescription-strength antacids. I should point out that I’m not really cranky. I enjoy reading, writing, reporting and editing. That makes me… enthusiastic, shall we say. Maybe it’s time to change the name of my missives to “From the kindly editor files.” People seem to prefer angry on TV, but this is the Internet and we can be nice to each other here.
Where I work, we add “trashlines” to our stories when we update them. They tell the reader what is new in the story. They usually say things like, “Adds analyst comment, stock price,” “Adds details from conference call, CEO comment, byline” and so on. They are written inside parentheses, usually one space in from the left margin, not five spaces. They look like this:
(Adds a dash of this, a bit of whatever, some more stuff)
Lately, I see this word showing up more often: “Recasts.” I see it in situations like this: “Recasts first paragraph, adds details from conference call,” or “Recasts lede to focus on outlook.”