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There seems to be some terrible advice out there about how to reach me. Let me explain.

Every day I get dozens of emails from would-be entrepreneurs hoping for a mention on our site. I love responding to people who seem human, but many people go out of their way to portray themselves as spam bots. It’s astounding, and sometimes feels like people are deliberately crafting confusing messages just to waste my time.

So allow me to clarify things, because I think you may be misunderstanding me. You might picture technology bloggers as having time on their hands. Like we’ve nothing better to do than read and re-read your emails until we understand just what the heck you’re saying. If that’s how you picture us, I’ve got some bad news: we’re really more like Strong Bad.

Want to stop me from pressing “#” (the Gmail keyboard shortcut for deleting an email)? Here’s some common pitfalls you need to avoid.

Overuse buzzwords to an absurd degree

You have a choice. You can write something like this:


Order cookies online! It’s cheap, delivery is free and the cookies are crazy delicious. I’ve got coupons for your readers, if you’re interested.

Or you can write something like this:

Our app leverages the cloud to disrupt the baked goods industry. It’s like Uber for cookies, but in the web 4.0 era. Like us on Facebook for exclusive access to limited-time offers!


The second template is far more common in my inbox than the first. I’ve no idea why, but here’s what I do know: those buzzwords need to die 7 Technology Buzzwords That Need To Die 7 Technology Buzzwords That Need To Die The Cloud. Web 2.0. Meme. What do these words even mean? At this point, hardly anything: they've all switched from being useful terms to pointless buzzwords. Read More , and I just deleted your email.

Say you’re a big fan, then prove you’re not

I can’t begin to explain how common this is. Just last week, I received an email from someone claiming to be a longtime reader. The next paragraph said what a perfect fit their app would be for a photography blog like MakeUseOf.



Flattery will get you somewhere, but only if it’s even remotely plausible. If you want to suck up to us, at least take the time to read a couple hundred articles (clicking on all the ads, naturally).

Oh, and if you say you like my writing, don’t follow that statement up by mentioning something Dave LeClair wrote. I hate that guy, and will find this offensive. Consider yourself deleted.

Neglect to mention what your app does

Again, surprisingly common: I get a request to review an app without so much of an explanation of what the thing is actually for.


Maybe I’ve passed over the Next Big Thing because of this, and should take the time to respo… deleted!

Ask us to add your app to an old post

Blogs exist within the space-time continuum. It’s why every post on our site features a date, and why the information in said posts is only accurate as of that date. We will, upon occasion, update an old article that’s popular in the search results – it helps new readers and keeps the traffic flowing.

But what we don’t do, under any circumstances, is add your brand-new smartphone app to a 2009 list article. This should go without saying, but it apparently doesn’t. So now I’ve said it.

And deleted your email.

In Summary: Gimmicks Don’t Work

If want to get in touch, get in touch. Write me a letter. Say hi. Explain in plain English what your app does, and why you think our readers might like it. Don’t suck up. Keep it quick.

I want to get back to you, and probably to tell our readers about this cool thing you built. But my time is limited, and too often it feels like people want to waste it. Basically, the gimmicks you were taught for getting my attention won’t work – and probably hurt. Don’t use them.

Image credit: Delete Key photo courtesy Frederico Cintra

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  1. Tom W
    November 22, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    I'm definitely going to bookmark this article. Too many people have no idea how to talk to editors. I saw someone send the exact same tweet to dozens of different app reviewers before I hinted that maybe they should make it a little more personal.

  2. Joel L
    November 21, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    If people would just exercise a little more brain when sending out press releases, they'd get a much better response. Sheesh!

  3. Guy M
    November 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    I lol'ed.

  4. Elmar P
    November 21, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Good one Justin!

  5. Matthew H
    November 21, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Great article as always Justin. I get my fair share of unsolicited press releases, but apparently nowhere near as many as you!

    • Justin P
      November 21, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      In August I became content managing editor. That's when the troubles began...