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BASICally the best email response ever

If you follow me on Twitter, and I hope you do, you know that I have little patience for bad press releases. I specifically despise the ones labeled “BREAKING” or “BREAKING NEWS” when it’s neither.

For example, here’s a portion of an actual email.

From: [redacted] Sent: Monday, March 10, 2014 9:22 AM
To: Kleinberg, Scott
Subject: BREAKING NEWS: Spring cleaning goes hi-tech

Dear Scott,
Can you believe today is 10 days until spring? When trees will be blooming, birds will be singing and thoughts will magically turn to cleaning – spring cleaning.

Sigh. I can’t tell you how many “creative” spring cleaning emails I have received over the years, and I know I’m not alone. I understand that it’s hard to sell spring cleaning, but maybe the secret is not to try since every story about it has been done. I responded back nicely, explaining that this is not my area to cover. And I also gave my standard plea to please be careful when choosing words like “BREAKING NEWS” when pitching journalists. And sidenote: I definitely could believe that on March 10 that it was 10 days until spring because spring starts on March 20 and I own a calendar.

But sometimes, you get emails that are unique and you have the opportunity to send a more thoughtful response to a thoughtful email that the person actually researched before sending. Like this from the media relations officer at Dartmouth College:

From: Shea [redacted] Sent: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:15 AM
To: Kleinberg, Scott
Subject: BASIC is turning 50

commodore-64-adHi Scott,

I realize you focus on social media, but hoped you might be a good person to contact about this technology story. BASIC – the programming language that brought computing to the people – is turning 50, and its creators are celebrating April 30 at its birthplace, Dartmouth College. Please see below and the BASIC at 50 website for details. Let me know if the Tribune would like to attend and if you have any questions.


And here’s my reply.

From: Kleinberg, Scott
To: Shea [redacted] Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 9:50 AM
Subject: RE: BASIC is turning 50

Hi, Shea.

5 REM email reply
10 PRINT “Thank you for the idea.”
20 GOTO 10

Thank you for the idea.
Thank you for the idea.
Thank you for the idea.
Thank you for the idea.
Thank you for the idea.
Thank you for the idea.

Sadly, there’s nothing I can really do with it from a coverage perspective, but as you probably already guessed I’ll probably tweet about the birthday at some point.

Thanks again.

And she wrote back to say that she appreciated the response and the enthusiasm. Of course, I spent the rest of the day pining for my youth and remembering writing programs like that on my Commodore VIC-20 and 64.

I had another email exchange today that was totally a syntax error, but we’ll save that for another day.

About Scott Kleinberg

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