No Sneak Previews Of My Reviews
Most weeks, I typically get an e-mail along the following lines from the publicists for whatever product I'm looking at this week:
"Would you mind giving a sense of how you liked the product, so we're not completely surprised when the review shows up?"
It's an understandable request, but one I can't fulfill. Telling the subject of a review the conclusion of that review gives them one last chance to spin the writeup in their favor--assuming, of course, that the review has actually been written in the first place, which can (ahem) be a generous assumption.
So I politely decline each time. (Though with some companies that cloak their own upcoming products in secrecy, I have been known to take a certain amount of glee in throwing their standard no-comment line back at them: "It's Post policy not to comment on unreleased products.")
That question is often accompanied by a query like "and how would you improve the product?" That's even more off-limits; I'm not here to be a developer's unpaid consultant. The only suggestions I may make on those lines will appear in public--in my column or this blog, where everybody can see them, not just one company's reps.
Thing is, this little runaround often isn't necessary in the first place, mainly because routine fact-checking inquiries can provide a pretty clear indication of what I didn't like. If I have to ask a publicist "Any reason why this handheld software still doesn't include any kind of notepad program?", "Do you really think you're going to erase this program from every single Web site in existence?" or "Can you explain why I couldn't set up an account for your traffic service?" it's probably not good news for the product in question.
Got any other questions about how tech-industry PR operates? Ask away in the comments!
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