Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

In Which Grammarly's PR Continues To Be Clue Free (Once Again, Featuring Nick Baron!)

No comments
I previously wrote about Nikolas Baron's flawed (and then sleazy) attempts to get me to plug Grammarly on my blog. And he keeps trying to get me to change my mind.

Here's a protip for everyone else:  When someone reacts more negatively to your followup attempts, you should probably either fix your mistakes or shut the hell up.

Apparently that is not something that Grammarly can catch in its ongoing scummy PR campaign. Herein lies an example of how to NOT conduct a PR campaign - and how to NOT brag about vapid press mentions.

So let's start with the e-mail (emphasis mine):

Hey Steve,

I just saw your blog post about Grammarly from six months ago and wanted to apologize for being annoying. I clearly failed to do Grammarly's Blogger Partnership Program justice. As I mentioned in my first email to you, we offer sponsored bloggers a free, premium account of Grammarly so they don't have to go through the hassle of signing up.

I've taken the liberty of creating one for you to play around with. You can log in here with your email address and the password "REDACTED". You'll quickly see how much more there is to Grammarly than just a writing score and report. I'd love to know what you think, please don't hold back.

Happy Holidays! :)


P.S. To get a more independent take on Grammarly, check out our press page. We’ve been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the Harvard Business Review, and The Economist, and have been mentioned on USA Today, the Huffington Post and The New York Times.

Okay, so first he starts off with a misleading statement (again). I've e-mailed him both times that I wrote about Grammarly, with the URLs. The second time I heard and reported to you all about where Grammarly requested bloggers violate FTC rules. The first time, I was more suspicous of Grammarly using a bogus "blog sponsorship"... something that Nick never bothered to answer.

The rest is actually pretty straightforward... until we get to the postscript. I quoted a college English instructor panning the service (hence his "more independent" crack). Apparently Nick didn't bother to notice that said English instructor was my girlfriend.  Or that besmirching my or my loved one's academic integrity is a quick way to piss me the hell off.

Though thanks, Nick, for giving me an excuse to post this GIF.

I then looked back over the comments, and discovered that Nicholas has been trying to get people to take down their negative blog posts about Grammarly.

(It's a G+ comment, so you might need to disable some ad blockers to see it.  Screencap below.)

Keeping it classy for Grammarly, huh, Nick?

Still, I decided to do what he asked, and checked out several of the links on the press page.  I got about halfway through before I got tired of them.  There were several links to fluff pieces about the company's existence... or a NaNoWriMo stunt that they sponsored this year.

The rest I checked out (I went back about a month or so) were reports about "research" that Grammarly had done. And I put research in sarcasm quotes - because the crap they present as "research" are merely infographics with no methodology or raw data whatsoever.

It's almost like he's talking to people with advanced degrees in this stuff.

You'd think that a respectable name like Forbes would have an editor to axe such "Press releases as news" articles, but no (emphasis mine):

According to a recent study from Grammarly there may be a strong correlation between accurate writing and career success. Professionals with fewer grammar errors achieve higher positions. For entrepreneurs, this could mean the difference between gaining or losing a customer—or even succeeding or failing at the business. So I asked Allison VanNest of Grammarly to give me some tips on writing for entrepreneurs. - via

But finally one fluff report points out the insecurity Grammarly's founder, Alex Shechenko, had as a non-native English speaker.

Alex Shevchenko encountered many of the same problems that learners of a second language face when leaving their home countries for school.

Growing up in Kiev, Ukraine, Shevchenko learned English for the first time as an undergraduate at the University of Toronto. He struggled to stay competitive in his classes and couldn’t shake a nagging feeling of insecurity over his work.

And that's the greatest irony of all. Because grammar error correction appears to have little benefit for L2 learners like Mr. Shevchenko.


Unfortunately, that article isn't in the form of an infographic... and you'll have a hard time getting that taken down, Nick.

Hey @GrammarAllie, maybe you should point out that asking for negative reviews be taken down is a horrible thing to do.  Just sayin'.

So kids, the next time someone comes and offers you a super-duper solve-everything product, check out their claims.  Because if their "press references" are little more than infographics of their "research"... well, maybe they're not worth your money.

No comments :