Morochove & Associates Inc., computer consulting, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

112 Belmont Street
Toronto, ON M5R 1P8

Six Dumb PR Questions You Should Never Ask

I've just received my fifth call today from a flack asking yet another boneheaded question, and it isn't even noon. It's frustrating to get asked the same six dumb questions over and over again. I could continue to gripe about this, but I've decided to try education.

There must be some school of flackery that teaches budding PR types that all writers are so empty-headed they canít read a news release, so you need to call them up to explain whatís in it. Wrong! I have no time to talk about something Iíve already read. Contact me only to tell me something I donít already know.

Another flack school rule must say writers do nothing but hang around the phone all day, desperately longing for a flack to call and wake them out of their reverie. Wrong again! Iím a busy consultant. Youíre not my client. Any time you talk with me, youíre stealing from more productive uses of my time that pay my bills. Don't phone, use e-mail.

Here's my guide to dumb PR questions you should never ask. It contains the six dumbest questions flacks commonly ask and my smart-alecky answers. When you get the urge to ask me a question, please look here first to see if your question is listed. If it is, read my insulting reply and tell your colleagues what a rude person I am.

Of course, I can't stop you from asking the dumb question anyway. But if you get an insolent response remember, you've been forewarned. Repeat offenders may find their callback privileges revoked and their e-mail automatically tossed in the trash.

Receipt, Please!

Q: Did you receive my press release, fax, invitation, software?

A: If this is a test of my memory, I guess I've failed. I receive 50 or more press releases each weekday. I don't memorize any of them. Most get deleted or tossed in the circular file within 30 seconds of reading.

Use the receipt function of your e-mail software to see if I received your message. If it's really important to know if I get what you send, there are services available to help you. For example, you can use certified mail, receipt requested. You can select a courier that provides a receipt.

Donít ask me to be your office boy and confirm the receipt of something I didnít ask for and probably donít give two hoots about.

Any Questions?

Q: Do you have any questions about my press release? Do you want to ask Mr. Big Cheese about the announcement?

A: Did you not put your name and contact information on the release? If I've any questions, I'll call you. Don't call me.

I'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When I Comes

Q: Will you be coming to my press conference?

A: If I'm coming, I'll be there. If I'm not, I won't. I attend very few press conferences, because most are a poor use of my time. Due to the fluid nature of my work, I cannot guarantee my attendance at most events.

Will I or Won't I?

Q: Will you write about XYZ? When will you write about XYZ? What will you write about XYZ?

A: I give all products and corporate developments the coverage I believe they're due. You will be able to read the results in the usual places at the appropriate times. I work to tight deadlines and do not make my articles available to anyone in advance of publication. Only my editors have the right to approve my writing before it's published.

Librarian, Please!

Q: Have you written about XYZ? Can you send me five copies of the publication it appeared in?

A: You should contact Bowden's or other reputable firms who operate clipping services. They can notify you when your client or product is mentioned in any publication and provide you with a copy of the article. As a freelance writer I do not have ready access to extra copies of any publication. If you require copies for your files, please contact the publication directly. Some articles or online links to them are posted on my Computer Watch site.

You Can Look, But You Can't Tell Anyone About It

Q: I've got this great product to show you, but will you sign this non-disclosure agreement giving away the right to your first-born son if you tell anyone about it for the next two months?

A: I'm a writer, not a secret agent. If I'm going to invest my time looking at your product, I want to earn a return on my investment. That means writing about it now, not two months from now. I believe that most long-term non-disclosure agreements (more than ten days) unduly restrict my reporting capabilities without delivering commensurate benefits. If you want me to sign your NDA, you'll need to persuade me otherwise.

- Richard Morochove

Updated: July 17, 2006

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