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September 11, 2012

Pro Tip: Don't Use 9/11 As A Hook For Your PR Pitch

We get a lot of random PR pitch emails all the time. Occasionally they're interesting, but most of them aren't right for our blog. Some of them are way off base, like the pitches we get that are directed at 50 Shades of Grey fans. But we've never seen anything quite like the one that we got today.

Subject: Feel Good Story for 9/11


Just a quick note if you wanted a departure from all the grimness of the day for your site.

Comedian Steve Hofstetter, whose birthday is today, decided to use the day for something serious. He made a video discouraging his 8 million social media people from birthday wishes, instead asking for donations to a cancer org that helped his wife during a difficult time.

It's a short video, and I admit I welled up at the end.

Thank you!

Barry Mackey
Senior Account Executive
Next Round Entertainment

So are we overreacting or is this just majorly thoughtless and inappropriate? We don't really have a problem with the video itself, but aside from Hofstetter mentioning at the beginning that September 11th is his birthday, it has nothing to do with 9/11. It's about a fundraiser for a breast cancer organization. It's a nice story, but it's not a "feel good story for 9/11", and it seems really bizarre to us to market it that way.

We also have a problem with the opening line of the email. (We'll just ignore the fact that the email opens with ",-" because Barry forgot to fill in our names or any other generic greeting.) We're both New Yorkers and one of us was in Manhattan on 9/11, so no fucking stupid PR pitch is going to provide us with "a departure from all the grimness of the day", nor would we assume that it would accomplish that for our readers. And then to go on and praise Hofstetter's decision to "use the day for something serious" - as opposed to how everyone else uses 9/11 for fun and games? We get that he's referring to Hofstetter's birthday and not 9/11 itself, but it just comes off sounding tone deaf and insensitive.

Don't use 9/11 to promote yourself. Even if it happens to be your birthday and even if you think it's for a good cause. Just don't do it.


Stacy M. said...

I think it's pretty obvious that they meant he was using his birthday to do something good, instead of being annoying like many people are on their birthday.

I thought that video was really touching, unlike a lot of the forced 911 tributes all over the media today.

I usually like this blog, but you are grasping at straws here.

MJ said...

Ugh, this story has nothing to do with 9/11 why would a stupid PR company exploit 9/11 for it? It would be a nice story if he didn't try to make it a "feel good story for 9/11". Also, this Hofstetter seems like he has no problem making light of 9/11, did you see his Facebook!?



Lisa Marie said...

Why are you blasting him for an email that someone wrote about him?


@Stacy: The issue is not with what he tried to do for his birthday, but with the gross way his rep pitched it. It's exploitative.

@MJ: That cake is horrible and unfunny.

@Lisa Marie: We are "blasting" the person who wrote the email (Barry). But Hofstetter should also take responsibility for who he hires to represent him.

Melissa said...

Ew, that is sooooooooooooooooooo tacky.