A lot of people hate PR. It has the reputation for being a cynical realm of spin doctors who pump out hyperbolic press releases, spamming every email address they can find.
For me, the basic principle of doing good PR is treating writers and editors with respect. You respect their time and attention by not sending them press releases on subjects they aren't covering. You don't tell them something is earth-shattering when it's really ho-hum. You treat them like humans, not like cogs in your publicity machine.
On Wednesday, there was news about some of my favorite humans. Jason Snell is leaving Macworld, while a number of the writers I've worked with were laid off, including Dan Frakes, Roman Loyola, and Dan Moren. The print edition will fold.
In the 8+ years I've been doing PR, the Macworld staff has always been the A-Team for tech journalism. No doubt, the bad PR people are updating their email lists, ready to train their spam machine on the good people who will still be at Macworld, including Chris Breen and Susie Ochs.
As for me, I'm sad at the end of an era, concerned for people's livelihoods, and hopeful we will continue to work together in the future.
I got my first Fitbit Ultra in January 2012. It is a pretty small gadget and easy to lose. When I lost mine, I griped about it on Twitter. A few people suggested contacting Fitbit for a replacement. It would have never occurred to me to try that; normally, you lose something and you are out of luck. But sure enough, Fitbit offered to send me a a new one.
When I thought about it, this unusual customer service policy made sense. The Fitbit was a new product that was quickly becoming popular. But, being so small, they are super easy to lose. If Twitter is any indication, people lose them all the time. If everyone who lost a Fitbit stopped using them or switched to another product, that could put the brakes on the otherwise incredible word-of-mouth marketing. I probably would not have spent another $100 to replace the lost one. For a small cost, Fitbit kept a user who would continue to spread the word. That was a smart strategy.
A year later, I switched to the new Fitbit Force, a wristband with a Fitbit baked in. I really liked it. I was able to use it for tracking sleep as well as steps. But soon after its launch, Fitbit announced a recall of the Force due to reports of skin irritation. Even though I didn't experience the problem, I worried that it could develop later. It was a $140 gadget; it seemed prudent to return the Force, stash the money away, and wait for a new version.
Seven months later, there is no word on a new Force. Looking back, I am surprised that Fitbit didn't offer a free or heavily-discounted alternative Fitbit product when they recalled the Force. Even a modest discount would have encouraged users to continue with Fitbit. With each Fitbit-less month that went by, I became more likely to consider other products.
It was a smart strategy to replace lost Fitbits at no charge. I wonder how they missed the chance to do something equally smart as part of the Force recall.
Meanwhile, Apple announced its much-anticipated watch. Now I know where my $140 will go. My Fitbit Force vigil is over.
Did anyone else think it was weird, and maybe a little sad, to see Apple tout McDonald's as an early adopter of Apple Pay at the same event where they extolled the health benefits of their new gadgets?
I suppose a Big Mac and fries is no less healthy than Jimmy Fallon's 1230 calorie funnel cake, as featured in the new iPhone 6 ad.