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October 31, 2007

'Vampire Electronics' Articles Suck

If you work for a company looking to generate some good PR, take notes from Direct Energy. In order to get their energy consultancy's name out in front of millions of eyeballs, all the folks there had to do was dubiously link an old trend story to an upcoming holiday in the form of a cheesy press release headlined, "This Halloween, Protect Your Home From Vampire Electronics."

What are vampire electronics? Well, they're the things that until a few days ago were known as electronics that still use energy even when they're on standby power. But that's no way to get media attention. After all, if you talk about something as boring as standby power, how are you going to get the Associated Press to write an article—quoting an expert from your company—that leads off like this?

A force as insidious as Dracula is quietly sucking a nickel of every dollar's worth of the electricity that seeps from your home's outlets. Insert the little fangs of your cell phone charger in the outlet and leave it there, phone attached: That's "vampire" electronics.

(Actually, the term "vampire electronics" has been used, sparingly, before. In 2005, the New York Times ran an article titled, "I Vant to Drink Your Vatts.")

Earlier this year, Gelf talked to Fark's Drew Curtis, who recently wrote a book about the devolution of the media. One of the many types of stories he complains about are two types that seem to have been combined here: "unpaid placement masquerading as an article" and "seasonal garbage."

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