Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This PR person is 'Wrong on all counts!'

Here's the first paragraph of a PR pitch I got the other day:

"Financial institutions are under a misunderstanding that only consumers are at risk and the Red Flags Rule only applies to consumers. Wrong on both counts!"

Yikes! This sentence is awful. Vague. And sites a "Rule" with which I am not familiar.

In short, this sentence did not have me at hello.

I receive more than 500 e-mails a day. I don't have time to wade through this pitch to find out what it's about and if it's relevant.

Secondly, I don't know what the Red Flag Rule is and I don't care because I don't write about "rules" — but I might write about the way a rule affects businesses that I cover.

The failure to establish early on what the "risk" is and what the "Red Flag Rule" is, makes me laugh and laugh when I read the second sentence in this pitch: "Wrong on both counts!"

I can appreciate the author's attempt to be catchy. But the first sentence is so poorly constructed that the catchy kicker — "Wrong on both counts!" — just doesn't make sense. 

Terrible Pitch Fix:

 "Banks face fines that could total thousands of dollars if they don't comply with a little-known rule that many believe doesn't apply to them  — and that may make their customers vulnerable to (I'm just guessing here) identity theft.

Terrible Pitch lesson: When crafting a lead on a pitch, ask yourself: "How does this affect the audience of the reporter/publication I'm targeting?" Include the potential impact to that audience in the first line.

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