Weekly output: buying iPhones (x2), iPhone 8 and X (x2), connecting the unconnected, PR pitches

I flew to San Francisco Monday afternoon–once again marking Sept. 11 by getting on a plane, which strikes me as an appropriate way to honor the day–for the Mobile World Congress Americas trade show, then returned Thursday afternoon. That yielded one story I’ve filed that hasn’t yet been posted, another I need to finish, and ideas and sources for a few others farther in the future.

9/11/2017: Reminder: You don’t have to buy your next iPhone from a carrier, USA Today

My first part of this week’s new-iPhone feeding frenzy was this post reminding readers that Apple provides an installment-payment option like that of most carriers–except that Apple’s gives you a device that isn’t locked to any one carrier.

9/12/2017: Apple’s big announcements, WTOP

I shared my thoughts about Apple’s phone and smart-watch news via Skype from the MWCA press room; for once, the Internet-calling gods smiled upon me.

9/12/2017: Highlights: Apple unveils $999 iPhone X, new Face ID technology, Fox 5 News

I jumped on Skype a second time to discuss Apple’s new smartphones with WTTG’s Marina Marraco.

9/13/2017: Cellphone carriers are shining up their iPhone trade-in deals, USA Today

I wrote my USAT column earlier than usual to offer some advice about the incentives the carriers are throwing out to get people to upgrade from an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus–something you probably shouldn’t do, whereas owners of older models can profit from taking advantage of some generous trade-in deals.

9/13/2017: Connecting the Unconnected, Mobile World Congress Americas

About three weeks ago, I got an unexpected invitation from a Mozilla Foundation publicist: Would I like to interview executive chairwoman Mitchell Baker onstage at MWCA about that non-profit’s research into which strategies work to get people online in developing countries? I said that sounded like a great conversation, and it was. The MWCA organizers haven’t posted the full video yet, but you can watch an excerpt on Mozilla’s blog and in the embed below.

9/15/2017: Hit the Perfect Pitch: How to Fine-Tune your Story to the Media, Business Wire

With a handful of other journalists, I answered questions from area publicists about what makes an effective pitch (hint: your follow-up e-mail should never consist of “any interest?”) and heard out a handful.

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You can leave me voicemail

My phone’s been doing something weird over the past few weeks: It’s been ringing and buzzing with incoming calls.

Missed callsAnd not just any calls, but those in which the callers don’t leave a voicemail when I don’t pick up. I don’t pick up because it’s December and calls from tech-heavy area codes–206 and 415, I’m looking at you–usually mean CES PR pitches that, by virtue of referencing something happening weeks from now, do not require my immediate attention.

I keep wondering if one of these calls will break with the pattern and leave me with a voicemail summary. Instead, I only get Android’s after-the-fact identification of the PR agency behind the number. What happened? Was the caller on the verge of leaving a brilliant little soliloquy before he or she had the iPhone stolen. Did an attack by a bear interrupt things? I can only wonder.

I whined about this on Twitter, and one PR rep responded that he didn’t want to annoy journalists by adding yet another voicemail to their queue. I get where he’s coming from. But here’s the thing: A voice call without any here’s-what-you-missed followup (could be voicemail, could be e-mail, could be a tweet) basically reads as “my message is so important that I will not say it unless you drop everything to hear it in real-time.”

And that’s not something I want to do when I have this many to-do-list items to finish before CES.

Look, I have visual voicemail through Google Voice; playing messages is not that painful, and GV’s automatic transcription often makes it amusing too. Besides which, at the moment I can’t seem to get anybody to leave me voicemail. So if you do, PR friends, you can tell your client how this one weird trick made your message stand out from everybody else’s.