TechCrunch Can Smell Your Bullshit

July 31, 2013


My grandpa taught me the definition of bullshit at the ripe age of five. While back then the context involved a game of cards, I realized pretty early just how full of bullshit people can be. My family is full of BS. Friends, neighbors, (cough, cough) clients – love them all, but it’s true. You need to learn how to spot bullshit before you step in it.

My knack for hunting bullshit, and filtering it into something digestable, landed me a career in PR. How ironic, right? PR as an industry is full of bullshitters. I’ll skip the Barokas Communications plug, as you know our ‘PR Minus the BS’ mantra. Businesses looking for PR need to be warned of just how much BS is out there and learn how to avoid the landmines accordingly.



Journalists are some of the world’s greatest bullshit hunters. In fact, I recently dined with some of the industry’s best: TechCrunch, while some of the gang was visiting Seattle for a recent Seattle Meetup. As usual, they had a lot to say about working with PR Pros. Here’s a glimpse at some of the bullshit PR tactics they try to avoid.


  • BS embargoes: Asking a reporter to agree with your embargoed news, which you
    list in full detail within the email pitch, is just asking for a broken embargo. There’s a big difference between “agreeing to an embargo,” and actually agreeing to an embargo before a PR fool discloses the news. And, what’s up with ridiculously early embargoes. I get that some of your customers might be located abroad, but most TechCrunch writers are based on the West coast, as is most of their audience. Asking them to post (or read) a story which publishes at 4am ET is complete BS. PR flacks need to decide just how much they want that coveted TechCrunch coverage, and accommodate accordingly.


  • Your news is bullshit: Emerging tech companies and startups are competing for coverage in TechCrunch alongside many of the giants – Amazon, HP, MSFT, you know who they are. Take a moment to really gauge if your so-called news is actually news, and set expectations internally. If it’s a case study or customer win, it’s going to be hard to beat the ‘who the hell cares’ test. Also, TechCrunch covers breaking news. Unfortunately for most PR folks, that means our 2-week lead time and ‘embargoed’ news will have to compete. We’re the underdogs, but sometimes we prevail.



I could continue with the long-lasting ‘to call or not to call’ debate – but I’d probably get fired. Plus, I don’t want to give away all my secrets and lessons learned from the TechCrunch dinner. Good luck.



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