A Lesson for Innovators: iPotty, the Worst Toy of 2013

Check out yet another innovative way to decrease the amount of time we spend each day interacting with our children: The iPad potty-training seat:

iPad potty-training seat

Now you can let the iPad potty train your child!

Now, my children are WAY beyond potty training, and I’m still bleaching smears off the bathroom walls. I can’t even imagine cleaning up after a potty-training toddler who hasn’t even begun to perfect his aim, and likely won’t because his fingers are too busy playing on his iPad.

I’m all for technological innovations that improve the quality of our lives, that help us form healthy habits, that remind us when it’s time to get up and move around. The manufacturer, CTA, claims that a chief complaint of parents is that they can’t keep the attention of their children long enough to get them to sit (and use) the potty. While this is true – somehow song and dance, reading books to them (that I held – no pooey hands on library books please!) certainly did the trick for us. As an added bonus, my kids learned how to sing, how to interact with people, and yes… even sat on the potty chair while I used the “big potty.”

There have to be some technology-free zones in our homes. The bathroom seems like a no-brainer. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children under the age of 2 should avoid television and other entertainment media because their brains are developing so much at this early age. It seems to me that innovators should have some ethical responsibility to their customers. It’s one thing to build an app that works for a few weeks, but doesn’t keep my attention long enough to actually bring about lasting behavior change. It’s altogether different to develop a product that claims to help toddlers developmentally while potentially doing the exact opposite. Some are calling this the worst toy of 2013. I hope CTA throws in a free container of Clorox wipes with every purchase.


Writing winning email press releases

5 easy ways to get the attention of the press using email press releases

OK, so your company is launching a new product that will forever change the way healthcare is delivered. Or you’ve developed new software to help corporations manage customer relationships. Or you’ve discovered a new species of potato bug and can’t wait to share your knowledge with the world. You write a press release and blast it out to every possible editor or content curator you can find.

Enter me, on my first day as managing editor of a magazine that’s not had an editor for nearly six weeks. And no one has checked the former editor’s email. There are 1,007 emails for me to sort through, most of them press releases.

Here’s how to get my attention:

1. Start the subject line with the words: PRESS RELEASE. Then give me a headline that summarizes the release in 10 words or less.

2. Use correct grammar – if you don’t, you’re not a credible PR person in my book. Yes, this even includes the subject line.

3. Know who I am. Don’t pitch me a new mascara line when I work for a business management magazine.

4. Put the important information first, and the company description last.

5. Include contact information.


Any other communication/PR professionals have tips to share?