much ado about unsolicited e-mail…

I came across this very interesting post the other day from Chris Anderson, the Editor-in-Chief of Wired Magazine, that seems to have a whole lot of people in a tizzy:

Sorry PR People: You’re Blocked

Apparently Chris receives a ridiculous amount of unsolicited e-mail from PR people who include him on mass press release distributions without his consent – either the releases don’t even pertain to something that Wired would cover or they should be directed to a more specific person within the organization, but either way, they shouldn’t be sent to the guy at the top just at random without putting at least a little thought into what the e-mail says. Well, to combat this problem, Chris simply blocks any offending addresses in Outlook so that he won’t see the unwelcome mail anymore, but he recently rocked the boat by publishing that list of over three hundred addresses in his blog!

This made a lot of people angry – especially those whose names are on the list! – but I can’t say that I entirely disagree with the man and his intentions. I still get random e-mails from marketing people for Just Laugh and we never covered that sort of thing in our issues, so it’s no secret that far too many PR agents simply catch that keyword (humor, technology, whatever…) and throw your name into their list of people who clearly would be interested in whatever remotely-related product their client might be offering. Of course, in the comments – and there are hundreds of comments already – many PR agents have argued that they’re, in fact, doing a valuable service and should be thanked for their efforts because of course, the publishing industry wouldn’t exist without them! This is just an absurd cover-up for people being too lazy to do any research before sending out their press letters – hell, one early poster even admitted to getting Chris’ name off of a list that he bought from a PR company.

Sure, the underside is that the folks whose e-mail addresses were posted might get a little extra spam because of the post, but chances are if these were addresses that are posted anywhere else on the web, they’re already getting tons of spam anyways so I really don’t think that’s much of a shield to hide behind. Besides, spammers receiving spam don’t really get much sympathy from me, and if you don’t think that your unsolicited bulk e-mails are spam, you really need to take a look in the mirror – unsolicited is unsolicited. I really liked one particular comment about how to tell who your releases should really be going to – just go down your distribution list and highlight how many of those names you would spend $50 on to pitch your idea to, or even how many you’d be willing to actually just pick up the phone and talk to. It might not be the preferred method in today’s fast-paced, yet somehow lazier society, but I’m still a firm believer that a bit of research and thought holds a much better chance for success than simply throwing as much at the wall as possible and hoping that something sticks…

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