Sorry PR People

About a year ago I got the first odd e-mail – that is, the first that caught my attention on this particular topic. It was a thinly disguised press release offered by a PR company to hype me on the idea of interviewing their client.

I wrote back and asked why they had sent this information to me. I was told that because I was an “influential blogger” they thought I might like to know about their client.

Frankly, I found the concept of creating publicity through other people’s blogs to be a much more interesting story, but alas, the PR person refused to waste any more time conversing with me about the specifics of his job.

It seemed somebody had thrown a switch.

Within days I was getting regular solicitations, and within a few weeks they made up half of the mail in my “in” box.

I don’t mind people submitting story ideas, or opportunities to interview, but I wish they had even a small understanding of the topics I write about.

In the last 48 hours I’ve received:

1. a press release about a search engine optimization book from an expert I’ve never heard of,

2. a notification that a well-known millionaire would be the keynote speaker at a blogging convention in Las Vegas,

3. the announcement of a new Internet radio network,

4. an invitation to an after-hours party in Nashville from a company I’ve never heard of. (The invitation gives me no idea of what this company does),

5. a press release that a well known corporate executive has joined the board of a little known charity,

6. a “preview” of the big announcement that a start-up company would now offer cell phone advertising,

7. an announcement that a company I’ve never heard of has just purchased another company I’ve never heard of. It took 9 paragraphs to explain what either company did. I still don’t know why I should care,

8. a press release about an upcoming conference which would explore the upside of blogging for business,

9. a self-serving piece that a large retail chain used to brag that a not-for-profit agency I’ve never heard of has presented the retailer with an award I’ve never heard of,

10. a well written story about the steps that pharmacists in Southern California were taking to help people displaced by the fires to get their prescriptions.

11. a nice “thank you” from the Southern California marketing group that I spoke before last week. (Thank you, Mary. I had a good time, too).

12. an e-mail from RosemaryT informing me that my website could use more traffic, and that she will create a free site report for me if I click on the link…

OK. That last one didn’t belong on the list.

It was pure spam. But, except for number 11 so were all of the rest. (Although I thought the news in number 10 was genuine news, I’m the wrong person to report it).

Its flattering to be an “influential blogger,” and to have people think your opinion matters. That flattery quickly appears insincere when the blogger finds out you’ve never read his blog.

Insincerity = hype = Overall negative impression of the sender.

People who don’t know any better will try the “stuff against the wall” theory of mass communications. PR professionals should know better.

When you’re sending the exact same release to hundreds of “influential bloggers,” you have just admitted to everyone that your content is not news. Its already been widely disseminated. Any blogger who writes about your release is ALREADY behind the times.

It may be important to YOU that I learn all about your company’s after hours party, but I can assure you, unless you can explain why I should care, I probably won’t. People looking for marketing information won’t either.

I write specifically about advertising, and in the somewhat larger context, marketing. I have a couple of hundred posts on these topics available to anyone who Googles my name. Why are you sending me “news” that your software firm has upgraded KeepMeBusy 3.5 to the new robust KeepMeBusy 3.5.1? I don’t care. The people who read my posts for marketing information don’t care.

You are, by definition, a spammer.

How Chris dealt with spammers.

So appreciate with me the step just taken by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired and author of The Long Tail. Chris has banned pointless press releases from his in box.

A few keystrokes, and poof! They’re consigned to computer hell.

Ain’t technology grand?


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