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The GW Hatchet

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PR emails we can’t believe weren’t April Fools’ Day jokes

Photo Illustration by Jordan Tovin | Assistant Photo Editor
The look of confusion when receiving questionable PR emails.

As the jesters and jokers descend on unsuspecting pawns this April Fools, I, an editor at a student newspaper, must admit that I am often played the fool.

As media relations firms flood my inbox with pitches, trying to get their clients’ names in print, I constantly fall for flashy subject lines. Hoping for the next big story to grace our website, time and again I find myself duped by clever PR representatives and their flashy puns, masking the insanity of their pitches.

Here are some of the wildest pitches I have had the displeasure of mining while desperately seeking a gem:

Pups and Press

From stars of Netflix teen shows to rising comedians, The Hatchet has interviewed a variety of famous folks. But the PR representative offering us an opportunity to talk with a distinguished dog was unfortunately barking up the wrong tree. Darby Joy, a performing pup who recently made an appearance in “Good Burger 2,” and her owner Chrissy Joy’s press relations team reached out to set up an interview discussing the ruff life of being a celebrity dog.

In a time of dogs attending and stealing the limelight at award shows, it wasn’t an inherently ridiculous pitch. Though the PR team promised to give us the scoop on the pup’s upcoming new projects, my editor and I couldn’t figure out how to go about getting the pooch’s perspective. Perhaps if this dog had a blog instead of the ability to do handstands, we could have made it work.

Fun with Feet

I’ve got to hand it to the media relations team at Fun with Feet, a foot fetish platform and feet pictures marketplace, they are nothing if not persistent. In a campaign to get our student newspaper to profile their head of communications, the Fun with Feet team offered to break down the key ingredients to nailing the most attractive foot picture. Though we don’t have a beat on this paper dedicated to feet, I also appreciated their attempts to provide a newsworthy angle to secure their boss a story, including highlighting professional athletes rumored to be sweet on feet, from Steph Curry to Alex Rodriguez.

Alternatively, since the online platform tracks user data, the media relations people tried to pique this paper’s interest with shocking trends. Apparently, people really like to watch fruit-crushing videos. I quickly became paranoid about opening my Hatchet email account in class for fear someone sitting behind me would see the subject lines “Men Wanted: See Why The Male Foot Pic Industry is Booming” or “Soleful Secrets: A Candid Conversation on the Weirdest Foot Fetish Requests.”

Pesky journalistic integrity

The art of negotiation is lost on so many people. Journalists especially understand this struggle, as we can’t accept gifts in exchange for our work no matter how many times someone wink winks or nudge nudges.

Unfortunately, the aesthetic nurse practitioner who contacted me last year offering me a “discounted treatment” in exchange for interviewing her about cosmetic procedures didn’t know about these ethical rules. Perhaps I could use some Botox after frowning all day at nonsensical pitches and furrowing my brow, but alas I will have to pay full price.

Women can do anything men can … including shrooms

Come March, which is Women’s History Month, I received a variety of pitches highlighting women changemakers. But, amid the tales of herstory flooding my inbox, a Canadian psychedelic retreat that has the word “men” in their name tried to co-opt the celebration. 

Referring to women as “females” in the opening line of their correspondence, the retreat’s PR representative claimed the majority of their customers in the past year were women and dubbed psilocybin “the working woman’s new life hack.” Their mushrooms might be magical, but I was not charmed by their half-baked attempt to market their retreats.

Conspiratorial clap-backing

A word of advice when emailing anyone: Don’t just make the subject line a bigoted conspiracy theory. A sane person typically won’t open an email that appears to be promoting a conspiracy movement related to Q-Anon. This sane person didn’t, but my editor did. We came to discover a man writing under a pen name was looking to have his self-published 360-page book mocking alt-right conspiracy theorists reviewed in our paper.

The author said he wished to keep his true identity under wraps because the three novels he wrote could interfere with his career. The writer hoped his novels, which he self-described as “woke,” would upset members of the far-right while tackling issues like wealth inequality and trauma. We never reached out to this mysterious author, but I hope he gained the confidence in his work to share it with someone who could actually help him get the word out.

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About the Contributor
Jenna Baer, Contributing Culture Editor
Jenna, a senior majoring in creative writing, is the 2023-24 contributing culture editor. She previously worked as a staff writer and cartoonist. She is a Houston, Texas girl through and through.
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