Startup Exec Accidentally Proves the Value of Tech PR

There’s some “debate” — if you can call it that — within the tech community as to whether PR is a necessary evil or a crucial tool in taking startups from obscurity to world domination. Some recent examples: an Uber GM got attention for claiming that such services are “a waste of money” and an anonymous “tech exec” told an NYT reporter that he only hates journalists a little bit more than he hates his own PR team.

Last week, however, technologist Robert Adams of the “sharing without an internet footprint” network Brax.me gave us the definitive case study in the Why Startups DEFINITELY Need PR file by sending his own mass pitch to almost every major tech journalist on the planet.

Much of that “frenzy” involved mocking him.

As Re\code tells it, Adams included “hundreds” of reporters on that initial mail — and didn’t bother bcc’ing any of them.

“The email touched off a days-long string of messages as well as a number of entreaties to just let the thread die.”

Since we are but lowly trade bloggers, we regret to say that we cannot share any of those messages. Seems like the whole thing was lots of fun:

Adams then wrote an apology letter telling the writers that he was sorry for the inconvenience but that he wanted to make it up to them by creating a private “Tech Writers Hunger Games” room in which they could continue the discussion…while using his company’s product, of course.

Sadly, it’s just a startup that mistakenly believed it could handle its own publicity.

Brax.me certainly did increase awareness among certain “key influencers.” But if anyone wants to even consider calling this incident a PRWin, do a quick Google search and see how many times the company scored positive editorial mentions thanks to the pitch. (Spoiler: the number is zero.)

From Editor Jack Smith IV of The New York Observer BetaBeat blog:

“[The story] also strikes at the heart of everything that we try to tell PR people about how not to pitch us: don’t send us garbage pitches, don’t send things out in blanket emails, don’t pitch people who would never take the story, and above all, if you’re going to break the rules and be a spammer, don’t be so fucking obvious about it.”

Startup executives might also want to hire the sort of people who get paid to do this right.