How to do PR: Take cultural phenomenon. Insert client product

The following, if you can call it that, press release arrived in Dr Mumbo’s inbox:

Dear Editor

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to seek your interest in writing a story on a quirky angle – on how people can easily improve their sex life on the train or even in church!

Have you already purchased the paperback book of ‘FIFTY SHADES OF GREY’? Now that you REALLY know what the book is about – are you too embarrassed for people to see you reading it?

It is now easy to read your erotic novel ‘FIFTY SHADES OF GREY’ or even the ‘KAMA SUTRA’ on the TRAIN without being noticed!

Bored in CHURCH? You can even read your kinky novel in STEALTH MODE!! What other steamy novels do you have at home that you can CONVERT to digital reading?

Read WHATEVER you want, WHERE you want, WHEN you want – without anyone seeing the cover! – Simply CONVERT your books and magazines to e-books and read on your iPad, Kindle or Tablet.

Visit and simply send your books to book2bits and they will send you back your beloved book in a pdf file so you can . The cost is only a few dollars!

I have attached a backgrounder for more information on this amazing new service.

If you have any questions or would like to interview business owners – Annmaree or Owen, please let me know.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Among the many, many flaws to this release that strike Dr Mumbo, perhaps the most pressing is: How is reading your iPad in church okay? Second most pressing, why do’t you just buy the ebook in the first place?


  1. willemrt
    12 Jul 12
    1:27 pm

  2. Caps lock.. it’s cruise control for cool.


  3. Marshy
    12 Jul 12
    1:33 pm

  4. It’s like a Nigerian spam-mail, only more poorly written.

  5. Dave
    12 Jul 12
    1:33 pm

  6. Bless. #thatisall

  7. Dave (not the one that just posted)
    12 Jul 12
    2:57 pm

  8. Wouldn’t it be really funny if their whole intention with the press release was just to piss you off.

    Now they are just sitting there gloating to their client and saying “see, we told you he would print our press release word for word!”

    you know that they’re taking this as a win don’t you?

  9. Mac
    12 Jul 12
    6:27 pm

  10. Dave – they should take it as a win – It has just worked for them. Yep – I just created an account and signed up a couple of orders with them.

    It’s a bit sad because they destroy the original book 7 days after I download the PDF.. but it’s the cheapest quote I’ve had on the service.

    I’ll just have to buy a couple more copies of the book off eBay and let them (sob!) destroy them.

    (PS: I actually own the full copyright to the books (long story why) but I don’t have an electronic copy, so it’s a handy service. Yeah .. it’s going to be a heck of a lot of work cleaning up the OCR, but it will still be quicker than retyping the books..)
    (PPS: My sister uses her Kindle Bible in Church and she’s not exactly into the most cutting edge technology – so I’m guessing eBook readers must be extremely standard.)

  11. Anonymous
    13 Jul 12
    9:14 am

  12. Or just put something over the cover, like another cover. And it’s free!

  13. grn
    13 Jul 12
    12:39 pm

  14. Oh PR’s! Another one successfully embarrassing the rest of us and our industry. Sigh.

  15. Anonymous
    13 Jul 12
    1:27 pm

  16. There’s way worse out there unfortunately. I was once pitched a “Valentine’s Day” story from a PR spruiking chilli sauce. When I asked her what it had to do with Valentine’s Day she reacted as if I was stupid and said it’s all about spicing up your relationship. Of course, derrrrr.

  17. Anonymous
    13 Jul 12
    2:12 pm

  18. Tim is really hating on Public Relations people at the moment. This is a terrible MR, but if we humiliated every journo that had made a mistake or written a shitty article, we’d be here for a long time. Why would I bother sending relevant news to Mumbrella when he seems to despise practitioners and the industry so much?

    It’s a symbiotic relationship, and the anti-PR sentiment on this site at the moment is pretty unfair.

  19. mumble
    15 Jul 12
    9:42 am

  20. why are there typo and grammar errors in your story? can’t you spell or even use a spell checker?

    why do you use up most of the blog quoting someone else’s words? Do you not have original thoughts? Or is it just easier to blag others?

    See, it’s easy enough to find fault and carp. Look for some positives and write about those for a change.

    Or, as others have pointed out, let the “simpletons”of the world fool you over and over again.

  21. Alanis Morisette
    15 Jul 12
    12:09 pm

  22. Mumble (comment 10),

    You do know that you’re finding fault and carping, don’t you?

  23. Ally
    15 Jul 12
    1:18 pm

  24. Just a heads up: this service most likely fall afoul of current Australian copyright law, despite the company’s claims to the contrary. On its FAQ page, Book2Bits claims that its service is legal because section 43C of the Copyright Act gives the owner of a book the right to reproduce it for private and domestic use.

    That’s true, but the right is limited to the *owner* of the book, not a company (like Book2Bits) that offers to digitise the books on behalf of the owner. There is an analogy here to the recent Optus v NRL decision where Optus’ (cloud-based) TV Now PVR service was held to have infringed copyright in TV broadcasts by making recordings on behalf of its users. Although the Copyright Act allows domestic TV-buffs to record TV programs for personal viewing at a more convenient time (known as “time-shifting”), Optus was not allowed to rely on the same exemption when making the recording on behalf of its users.

    In other words, where the Copyright Act grants special rights to private and domestic media consumers (like time-shifting TV, ripping a CD to an iPod or digitising 50 Shades of Grey), that right is only available to the private and domestic user, and *not* companies like Optus or Book2Bits that offer to exercise those rights on the user’s behalf.

    The situation may not be workable or logical, but that’s the current state of play.

    (NB: Optus is appealing to the High Court, and there is a review of these “exceptions” to the Copyright Act underway, so we may see a change to this situation in the future).

  25. mumble
    15 Jul 12
    10:19 pm

  26. Of course. That’s the point. Snarling is too easy, and made worse when most of that written above is banal mindless drivel from someone who’s never tried to pitch a story.

  27. Natasha
    16 Jul 12
    11:30 am

  28. I have no issue with Tim creating a forum to humiliate people who think that it’s acceptable to send out a “press release” like this, (or the recent Op Ed that shall not be named again).

    Create the Media Watch of the PR industry Mumbrella! Because frankly it’s embarrassing to be working in PR and reading this rubbish. I remain unsurprised that Journalists are nasty when I phone them, if this is what they’re dealing with.

    And PRs – if you’re having such a hard time writing and pitching: get a mentor or more training, get better at reading the news, and/or try to work on something ethical and worthy of promotion; and do some good with the skills you have.

  29. Lisa
    16 Jul 12
    3:26 pm

  30. ” why do’t you just buy the ebook in the first place?” I’m not sure Tim? Why do’t we???

  31. DaveinPR
    17 Jul 12
    9:04 am

  32. In defence of our profession
    1) How do you know this was sent out by a qualified PR professional? I have met many a company who believe that they can save a few dollars by doing PR in house. In fact the new secretary can produce a nice brochure in Word so he or she can do the PR…
    2) Was this a local PR company or an overseas organisation who is not that familiar with the subtleties of English? Reading this it looks as if it may have been produced by someone not that familiar with English. I certainly would make a mess of Hindi or Cantonese PR… give others the benefit of the doubt.
    3) How senior was the PR practitioner? If you have read any Pet of Week columns or dealt with cadets you would also have a different view of the journalism profession (I can comment here – I was a journalist myself and wrote my fair share of tripe)
    4) Is someone pulling your leg Dr?? Seeing how you reacted to the tomato in the straw PR stunt, it might be fun to see you a PR spoof just to watch you froth at the mouth.

  33. Anon.
    18 Jul 12
    1:51 pm

  34. You sound like a nasty bully.

    Maybe you could have turned this press release into a constructive article about the best way to write a press release instead of just slamming a bad one.

  35. mumbrella
    18 Jul 12
    3:50 pm

  36. Sorry you feel that way, Anon.

    I see by the way that you share an IP address with the original sender of this press release who we chose not to name. You may want to add “how to hide astroturfing” next to “how to write a press release” to the to-do list.


    Tim – Mumbrella

  37. mumble
    18 Jul 12
    5:29 pm

  38. ah Tim, getting down in the gutter with the rest of us I see. Or perhaps we’ve just bumped into you on our way down.

    If you don’t enjoy this tawdry flimflam then don’t write supercilious posts that have no point except to whine and denigrate.