Playing the PR Game

And just what do we go through on a daily basis, anyway?

It’s not all five-course meals and backrubs, you know. Even though fabulous scents of lobster and arugula are currently wafting out of the kitchen where Fabio is hard at work, the rest of us still have to labor for a living. And like most working journalists, the toughest part of the job is dealing with those who clamor for our attention the loudest: the PR people.

Now, don’t get this ex-Antarctic explorer wrong. Without the legions of press minions, it would be very tough to do the job of writing about new products and trends. Of course, that’s not to say the work isn’t tough anyhow. There’s nothing like spending 45 minutes on a “telebriefing” (what’s wrong with “conference call”?) listening to some director of product marketing read every bullet on his PowerPoint slides to make you want to stick forks in your ears. And then there was the clever kitten who decided to e-mail Auntie three copies of a 5MB presentation 10 minutes before we were scheduled to talk “just to make sure it got there.” Oh, and I must mention the company that had just developed an innovative 3D environment for their product and yet, somehow didn’t have a single screenshot to share, let alone a working copy.

But I didn’t come here to complain. Instead, I want to show you some of the work that we at MCP Magazine do on your behalf, by translating some PR talk. Herewith are some excerpts from actual press releases recently received by yours truly. Only the names have been changed because, well, our lawyers insisted.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Microsoft.” Translation: We paid the $10,000 to get into the Visual Studio Integration Program, just like anyone else.

“The service aims at consolidating an active and growing user community by providing its members with a space to interact and share their experience and best practices.” Translation: We ran out of funds to hire developers, so we’re hoping that our current users will share their code for free.

“XYZ Corp. today announced that it is working with Microsoft to expand the integration of its flagship product with the Microsoft Office System products and technologies.” Translation: We’ve got a beta copy of Office 2003, and we’re trying to figure it out, just like you.

“ABC Co. announced today that it’ll announce next month that it’s shipping version 6.0 of its WhizBang 2000 product.” Translation: We bought this trade-show space last fall when we thought version 6.0 would be finished by now. The schedule slipped, but we have to talk about something as long as we’re here.

“Industry leading…” Translation: We have some customers.

“Established industry leader…” Translation: We have some customers, and some of them have come back for upgrades.

“Innovative and forward-looking…” Translation: We hope to have some customers next month, especially if you write good things about us.

“PQR Inc. is also moving forward with its planned integration of its product line with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), Microsoft’s enterprise-class operations management solution.” Translation: We think it would be really neat if our stuff integrated with MOM some day. Know any developers who could make it happen?

“MNO Corp. announces a new Web services API for its award-winning Kludge-O-Matic Web site.” Translation: Web services are “in” this year, and we wanted to play, too. Oh, and the Rhode Island Business Quarterly awarded us “fastest growing Web company honorable mention” six years ago.

“…integrated into a single, intuitive, GUI-based management console.” Translation: Our developers have been working on this product for three years, and it’s intuitive to them.

Now, multiply all of that obfuscation and creative writing by a factor of a hundred or so, and you’ll have some idea of what MCP Magazine’s writers and editors wade through to bring you each issue of this fine journal. We do hope you appreciate all of the work. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the chef is here and holding out my lobster bib.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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