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October 29, 2007

Comments

Anonymous Manufacturer

I can't believe how unprofessional and irresponsible this is by a Sr. Wired Staff Member. Many emails on this list, as is the marketing manager at my company, innocent folks that may have sent one or two emails with press information in the past month. The fact that our company was never contacted with any concern over this is just irresponsible. Companies like mine, that do care about SPAM, would have erased you from our contact list the minute we heard your concern.

I have such a low opinion of Wired Magazine now. This is the same type of irresponsible behavior one finds from cowboy organizations like the EFF. If that is the group you want Wired associated with, then by all means continue this type of unprofessional behavior, but you can also watch your advertisors pull away, readers pull back, and you will find yourself with a nice nich'e little magazine that's printed in Black and White since that's all you'll be able to afford.

Very dissapointed.

mrjav

Another problem that is not being discussed as to why these PR people are blasting email pitches is the fact that their supervisors/bosses expect them to. Senior-level management at PR agencies applies so much pressure on young talent to get hits so even if they want to do it the right way, they are practically ordered not to. In addition, these junior PR folks are given way too many accounts to work on that they don't have enough time in the day to actually build meaningful relationships with the media.

That's one of the realities of PR today, it's become all about publicity and not relationships. I am certain most of the PR practitioners on this list didn't want to send those pitches out. No smart PR pro would want to send a stupid email pitch that could end up on blogs like this one or badrelease.com.

Give these guys a break and target your scorn to the principals and senior management at these PR agencies. If Chris Anderson was really serious about stopping this type of pitching, he should ban the agencies that have sent him the emails, not just the person that sent it. This way PR agency owners and senior management would maybe tell their employees to do it differently.

a35mmlife

Shameful post.

Wired just lost one more subscriber.

Mike

That's awesome. Let's take this list and as a community send a random email or two. I know, I know that is childish...but it would be funny.

Kristine

Hi Chris-

With all due respect your reference and post generalizing PR people as ‘lazy flacks’ is highly unprofessional – especially given your position as Editor-in-Chief. I’ve been in the PR industry for 14 years and have developed highly respected relationships with some of the top Tier 1 journalists in the U.S.

I added your contact information to my personal media list through a diligent 40-hour list building process. Moreover, the way I found you was via an Internet story you wrote which happens to cover the industry my company operates in. Adding you to my list wasn’t done randomly, without thought, through pre-purchased list... and moreover, defintely not the result of a 'lazy' visit to the WIRED website.

A reminder for you -- there are hundreds of highly skilled PR professionals who function as the single PR resource responsible for supporting all communications for an entire company. And our work goes far beyond just media pitching. We wear many hats, are on deadlines just like you, shoulder a lot of responsibility and are constantly managing multiple business initiatives to help our organizations succeed.

I’d like to reiterate -- my personal media list was self-built with approximately 40 hours of research and hard work.

Reporters change beats daily. They change positions often. They also often co-author editorial – with each reporter covering differing beats. The vast majority of the reporters I work with –especially in Tier 1 publications, have the professional courtesy to send a quick email if I sometimes get off the mark in terms of matching a pitch (or sending a press release) to their particular focus areas –they don’t go off and lambaste me through a public forum.

If your inundated ‘inbox’ is causing you such angst, you may want to consider posting press release pitch guidelines on your website, complete with a staff list and beats to help clarify coverage areas for PR folks. A lot of publications do this and I’m sure it helps to dismiss or alleviate the problem you seem to be faced with.

I have excellent working relationships with many highly regarded reporters and often receive compliments on my professionalism and work style. Consider yesterday’s post and remember the PR pitch/journalist reporting process is a 2-way process. We’re both trying to get our jobs done, successfully and productively.

Best Regards,

Kristine Szarkowitz

Anonymous by Design

I get a lot of press releases and crap too. You know what I do? I delete them. But I guess this isn't an option for a smug, super-important guy like you.

rahdesign

Dan,
I think your solution is a great object lesson for a lot of people who apparently were never taught how important it is to identify their target market. This goes double for PR folks.

Several years ago, when I was in PR for a very large tech company we were constantly asked by our boss specifically who we were going to pitch the story to. The answer "Wired" was not acceptable - nor was it acceptable to mention the editor in chief, unless we already had an existing long and personal relationship with that person. If we wanted to get our story to a broader audience we would use one of the PR news services. I'm pleased to see that no one from my previous employer is on your list.

The other thing you could have done was something I read about a number of years ago that was done by a writer for, I believe, the Washington Post. He was tired of getting inundated with press releases and news flashes from all kinds of companies so he decided to call some of the more obscure ones at random. His pitch back to the PR folks was that if they would tell him their most embarrassing story, he would write a glowing review of their product (as reported in their release). The catch was that he would also publish their embarrasing story in the paper. Amazingly some of them bit.

My only other thought is that sometimes it can be difficult for a PR person to identify the the right reporter to contact about a story. Maybe you could publish somewhere in your site a list of the topics that reporters generally cover.

I'm not just talking about the standard boilerplate that lists the ten people who cover a particular market or technology, but something a little more detailed. That way if I have a new and improved Left-handed Smoke Widget that I think would make for an interesting story, I know exactly who to contact.

no body special

What a TOOL.

Steven Blinn

Chris,

Again, thanks for the list.

As a result of your list our Biz Dev people have been contacting the clients that these PR people represent and letting them know their PR efforts are being handled by people who aren't the sharpest knifes in the draw.

Needless to say, some very irate PR firms have contacted us. On the other hand, clients have been gracious and want to hear what they can do differently.

Keep up the good work.

Steven Blinn
BlinnPR
http://www.blinnpr.com

Dave K

I'm at a loss here. I run the PR at my company and after having a press release sent our by an association, I was told by a photographer at WIRED to put editor@wired.com on my list of press so they know when we have press junkets - simply because the photographer didn't know who would be more appropriate at his company to have press releases sent to. Any other publication I deal with tells me to send it to their editor and the editor will pass it on to the correct person at that publication. In essence - you are sending a mixed message.

Saying that, I have taken you off my email list and would appreciate that you do the same here for me. If you wanted off the list, all you had to do was reply and tell me to take you off.

Now, having stated my case - I will go and boycott your publication. Not just to colleagues, but to friends and family as well. If this is how you do business, then I want no part of your publication. The funny thing is that in the time it took you to put together this blog, you could have emailed all of us stating that you wanted yourself removed from our lists.

Congratulations! You've become part of the problem, not the solution. And by the way, if anyone at Wired ever calls us for anything, I'm telling them to go ask their editor why we're not cooperative.

Tim Massie

Chris --

This post was forwarded to me by one of my former students, who, thankfully, was not on your list (neither was I). It will come in very handy with the class I teach at Marist. Thanks for reinforcing what I've been trying to instill in my PR students all semester, every semester.

Tim Massie
Chief Public Affairs Officer and Adjunct Professor
Marist College
Poughkeepsie, NY

Charles F

The arse kissing of Chris and Dan is quite revolting and has made me feel completely nauseous... it is apparent that they are a pair of egotistical wankers who have forgotten what their real role is....

Get back to basics boys, stop being such babies and do your jobs you tools.

-30-

....

Just thought I should add this address to the list, chris_anderson@wiredmag.com, it was easy to find, it is public, the would assume the addresses Chris listed above are not. I am sure a lawyer would be excited about the prospect of dealing w/ the editor of a tech magazine posting unlisted e-mail adddresses and implying that they should be attacked. As for my wired subscription, I just cancelled it and trashed the most recent issue, which was too bad because I liked the magazine and have been a subscriber for over three years.

Charles F

Maybe a class action is called for !

Who's in ?

....

I love the idea of a class action. I just sent Chris an e-mail so my address should be showing up on his list soon.

GraphicD

I'm a graphic designer, read that one more time, Graphic Designer, and I get Spam both email and print from PR people. I have no idea what benefit they expect to gain from it, but they still do it.

I also get Spam from photographers and other artists which is relevant as my employer purchases a significant amount of photography each year. But if it comes via email or my name isn't spelled correctly, the sender gets blocked, period.

I applaud what has been done here, and I wish more publishing professionals, because that's what you are, a professional, would take up this practice. I believe it might help clean up the PR industry.

My one objection is that you didn't post the email addresses as links as well. I've got to think that spammers would be able to pick them up even easier that way.

Are there really such things as "public" and "unlisted" email addresses? I didn't know there was an email phonebook.

Keep up the good work, I think I'm gonna go home and renew my WIRED subscription now.

Amanda

The "editorial contact list" is called the masthead. It exists for a reason.

L

I'm on this. Problem is I did not compile the list, an intern did! FACT: I'm and ACTUAL PERSON - not a team designed to compile lists!
Also, if you hate email - become a novelist, not a journalist!

Rob

Chris

Great move. And BRAVO on publishing the list.

I've read all the comments and had a great laugh: A lot of those PR-people and other whiners really are dumb as bricks:

1) "Now the addresses you posted get harvested". Yes, and a lot of you buy those addresses. THATS WHY SOMEONE HARVEST THEM, you twits! Now you can buy your colleagues addresses and spam amongst yourself :o)

2) "Just hit the delete button". And so can you when your addresses gets spammed (see #1).

3) "Its your job". NO IT ISN'T! Thats his point, you morons!

4) "Now we'll never give information to Wired anymore". What? You are blacklisting Wired, because you are holding a grudge against Wired's EIC who outed you for doing piss poor PR jobs? Oh, can I PLEASE hire you to do PR for my company?

I've bought Wired every month for many years now, and I'll continue to do this, not in spite, but BECAUSE of things like this.

Thanks for a great laugh. And thanks to the whining PR-people in the comments, for an even bigger laugh.

Melanie

@L'Emmerdeur: "Are you from the Glorious South? They still daydream about people working for them for free down there."

I cannot believe that you actually wrote this, and can only hope that you do not really believe it. Disgusting. And no, I do not live in "the glorious south."

Leylandii

300 comments ! And still they come ! Yay !

See these mother%uck!ng PR sh!t-f*r-br@ins types squealing their sorry stories of woe over this blog is just hilarious !! "Oh, I'm so hard done by, I have just HAVE to send emails to TEN THOUSAND or people or more, it's the only way I can get to be noticed.."

Boo-hoo-hoo... I love the way these 'wankers' [great vocabulary guys, keep it coming] like to say 'Well if you don't want the email, all you have to do is tell us - ten thousand times...'

But my fave comment.. [just feel the love..]

"it is apparent that they are a pair of egotistical wankers who have forgotten what their real role is [What ? Reading spam? They're journalists..] ....Get back to basics boys, stop being such babies and do your jobs you tools."

Seriously, the first rule of boxing is not to show your opponent how much he has hurt you - for rfuck's sake, let's hope these PR charlatans don't get in the ring...

Leylandii

300 comments ! And still they come ! Yay !

See these mother%uck!ng PR sh!t-f*r-br@ins types squealing their sorry stories of woe over this blog is just hilarious !! "Oh, I'm so hard done by, I have just HAVE to send emails to TEN THOUSAND or people or more, it's the only way I can get to be noticed.."

Boo-hoo-hoo... I love the way these 'wankers' [great vocabulary guys, keep it coming] like to say 'Well if you don't want the email, all you have to do is tell us - ten thousand times...'

But my fave comment.. [just feel the love..]

"it is apparent that they are a pair of egotistical wankers who have forgotten what their real role is [What ? Reading spam? They're journalists..] ....Get back to basics boys, stop being such babies and do your jobs you tools."

Seriously, the first rule of boxing is not to show your opponent how much he has hurt you - for rfuck's sake, let's hope these PR charlatans don't get in the ring...

anti-GD

GraphicD huh? I read it one more time, a GRAPHIC DESIGNER, so what do you know about PR? Nothing. Nada. Not diddly-shit. You aren’t an editor or a PR professional so you shouldn’t chime in when you don’t know the industry.

You applaud the listing of the email addresses in hopes they get spammed? I only wish you left your email address so the 100 or more people who’s emails were listed could take yours to pornographic websites and start registering you for newsletters. Oops, hope I didn’t give anyone any ideas for Mr. Anderson. We all get spam, at work or at home!! If you have an email address you just need to expect it and deal with it!

This kind of posting makes me wonder what the “D” at the end of GraphicD stands for.

Simon Sharwood

I'm an IT journalist and editor and have tried to let the PR community know, over a period of five years, that I simply do not want to receive unsolicited press releases.
What offends me about press releases is that they make a lie of PR. The PR industry prattles about measurement and targeting its offers. Most have, by now, been trained and/or told about the intimate nature of e-mail. All know that targeted pitches are important. And all know that editors in chief do not make small decisions about every page of a publication.
But when push comes to shove there seems to be some irresistible PR urge whereby practitioners think to themselves "I know this person is not likely to be interested in this, but what the heck - maybe they will be! I'll put them on the list." And off goes the mail.
That kind of thinking is just plain rude.
The really scary thing for me is that when one responds to these pitches, the PRs concerned often have no idea how to help a writer or editor. I've lost track of the number of times a PR cannot give me ANY meaningful information about a product or service, which means that even on the very few occasions these random pitches are worth a little investigation, the effort is largely wasted for both parties. My blog is full of information about these incidents ...

01010101

Yep I sent him an e-mail.  I am a photographer and I shoot for a lot of major publications, how do I get work, I tell people about myself, ie I advertise.   As for my clients or possible clients, I do research to find out who they are and yes I do know who Chris is and I also know who the AD's and Photo Editors at Wired are.   Obviously I feel my imagery would work great for Wired or I would not have sent them an e-mail, snail mailed them images, or advertised my work in publications I know they read.   Yes I have had people, nobody from wired,  ask to be removed from my list, often times they say we know your work and we have your website bookmarked, thanks.   Thats fine and it takes me all of two seconds to remove their name, I have no desire to send people e-mails they do not want to receive, how is that good for business.

Laure

I find your rant appalling, even though I truly love Wired, to which we are long-time subscribers. I work in PR for well-known architects and design firms, and had once to identify whom to contact at Wired to forward a PR about a cool technological, architectural project. We are not spammers, we are a high-end, boutique PR firm, and we always target our emails to the media we think are the most appropriate.

I found your magazine masthead, and website, exceptionally obscure (in comparison to others,) and when I called your magazine, I was told rather abruptly that you didn't disclose info about your editors or their email addresses. We eventually forwarded the PR to editor@wiredmag.com = in the dark. Yes, we could have mailed the PR to the editor we thought was the most suited, based on our knowledge of the magazine, but hey, we live in the internet age = email vs. snailmail.

If you don't want to be bothered, may I suggest that your magazine be more transparent (as other magazines have finally come to realize?) You will help yourself -- and decent PR people.

tenassian

I almost wonder if this is a breech of your contract, letting out internal information, since they contacted you at WIRED and not you as an individual. I honestly hope you don't get a reprimand for this.

Marcus
"We are not spammers, we are a high-end, boutique PR firm, and we always target our emails to the media we think are the most appropriate."

How very self-deceiving of you. Funny how all the appalled comments come from PR reps, isn't it? PR is a modern euphemism for spam, sometimes it takes the use of e-mail as a medium for your targets to put two and two together.

Charles F

say's Leland :

"Seriously, the first rule of boxing is not to show your opponent how much he has hurt you - for rfuck's (SIC) sake, let's hope these PR charlatans don't get in the ring..."

Firstly, delighted you like the word 'wanker'.... thought it might add a little colour to what is rapidly becoming a seriously dull landscape.

Secondly, you really shouldn't take it all so seriously, you were drawn on and reacted exactly as I hoped someone would....

Round One to us I think ?

Avery

Leylandii...you drank a bottle of vodka, right? Tuaca shots? Wait. Tequila? What was that rant? You can't even spell. What are you?

Charles F

Leylandii is a TOOL.... you know that Avery.. you just didn't want to say it... but there you go... I did it for you.

Brian Brady

Would it be okay if I e-mailed you my list of spammers so that you might publish them here or would that get me on the list?

Kevin

Bravo Chris!

I hope you keep publishing these lists in the future.

Joe Ching

Amazing, how all the stupid, lazy people are angry...what they reap is what they sow. Thanks for the laughs!

Good going Chris!

Jennifer McLean

Mea Culpa. I am on the list. And I have to say I felt shame all morning. I know better, I have been doing this for over 20 years. I even wrote a book. The PR climate is challenging at best these days, but I took a short cut, which will get you in trouble no matter what business you are in.

Bottom line is I made an error in judgment and have to face this rather loud unruly music as a result. But I think this dialogue is a good one. We have heard what Chris and many other editors have contributed here. And beyond the comments from PR folsk too, I have heard from many long time PR folks who are tired of being berated by overworked editors for the methods we use to contact them. I was at a PR function last week and the Los Angeles Times editor said “PR people should be seen and not heard.” Judging from that comment combined with Chris’ blog post the level of respect PR folks can expect from today’s editorial community is quite low indeed. This is not a complaint, it is simply an observation. But it is hard to take sometimes.

Bottom line the PR industry is broken.

Here, from my perspective, are some of the challenges today’s PR professionals face:

• Client budgets are often quite low yet their expectations are off the charts. It is almost impossible to do the level of due diligence that editors are demanding given these smaller budgets. That is not to say that editors should not be demanding the research –of course they should. But should an editor go off the deep end because we sent and iPod pitch instead of a gaming pitch. Well maybe, because at the end of the day he doesn’t cover iPods, and it is understandably frustrating to constantly receive pitches that aren’t relevant.
• Editors are overworked and many cover too many industry verticals because budgets at publications are tight and downsizing has been a regular occurrence. So, most editors are taking on way more than in the past. The Los Angels Times used to have over 1200 editors they now have 800. The news hole hasn’t changed that much, yet there are less editors to fill the same space. The other problem from downsizing is reporters change their beat quite regularly, so tracking them has become more difficult. Within this challenging environment, in an effort to keep editors up on our client’s products we likely overdo it from a pitch perspective (both in number and email length) in part because it is more and more difficult for editors to take the time to respond.
• There are fewer publications to garner coverage from, especially from a traditional hardcopy magazine perspective. Most clients don’t perceive results on Blogs or online publications as “real” coverage. So more companies, with more PR people, and fewer editors receiving 100s of emails per day equals a big problem.
• Many of our clients have multiple vertical markets and therefore multiple publications beyond the tech trades. Once again the sheer amount of time needed to do due diligence on each reporter is not something that most budgets can accommodate.
• The PR agency model (given current budget ranges) does not allow for experienced senior personnel to be doing media relations. Agencies in turn are under huge pressure to make a profit, especially public companies. The result: more junior people executing most media relations programs. This business paradigm does not offer an environment conducive to the demands of the editorial community. These are precisely the demands that Chris is making.
• By the time a PR person is senior enough to know all the right editors and understand their likes and dislikes they are so burnt out by this environment that they leave the industry, and the cycle of junior employees starts again.
• Agencies with many small clients have to cover too much editorial ground. It is harder and harder for agencies and even freelancers to specialize in a particular vertical niche and still survive.

So what is to be done? Is it up to us as PR professionals to manage our client’s expectations for results? Yes! For example explaining the news environment, setting placement expectations etc. Yet clients look at the thousands of dollars spent each month (whether it is 3$K or $30K) and have a boss to whom they must justify that budget. Even if we share with clients that, for example, the coverage placed in BusinessWeek was equal in ad dollars to more than 2 years of PR budgets spent, still does not make up for the one month where coverage did not appear. So, is it always possible to set proper expectations? Unfortunately no. Sometimes the cost of doing business forces us into a corner and perhaps into making mistakes. But there is an opportunity to change this… perhaps it is time to simply be that broken record to our clients and offer continual explanations and recommendations of the reality of market conditions that perhaps the “news” they are creating is not enough. If the company still pushes for pursuing bad stories we walk away from the business. That is a hard road, because there is always an eager PR pro or agency that is willing to pick up the business and agree with the client that the “other” PR firm they hired didn’t know what they were doing.

Back to this particular matter, despite the fact I made this list, I recommend searching the publications site first using relevant keywords to see who is writing about the client’s topic. Read the articles and send an intelligent well thought out pitch based on what the editors has written about. Use services like Vocus to validate or find the email for that editor. (See my blog post about There is NO “free publicity” http://credibilitybranding.typepad.com/blog/2007/04/there_is_no_fre.html) Did I do that for Chris, no and he is right to be upset.

I do think Chris’ particular response is a little extreme, but he is in the PR game too, he is creating controversy for his publication and his book. And look its working, I heard about this post because a writer from the New York Times was looking for a comment (he spammed Chris’ email list) for a story he is writing. This post has also been passed on to other bloggers and has become the story. This is good PR. But, more importantly it has prompted the chance for an open dialogue. Chris’ blog post and the level of frustration found in the comments here would not have happened had there not been something fundamentally wrong. I am in the middle because I took a short cut and now have to face the repercussions. What I do know is that I will use this as an opportunity to take a closer look at how I do PR and will scour my lists and think twice before I send my next pitch. So thanks Chris for the opportunity to take stock and do better.

However all that being said, I think the method of the “outing” was a little mean spirited. I had to take a moment, to overcome the shock of seeing my email address on this list. Then I looked at the pitches I sent Chris. I have only sent him three emails in the two years of outreach (found in my outlook sent items); two in October (one was sent twice in error) and one in September. Wow is my timing crap or what? Now I am being outed to all Conde Nast publications and chastised by over 300 commentors here alone. Not to mention the anticipated onslaught of spam email I am expecting. And all for three emails? And they were pretty good pitches, newsworthy well written just sent to the wrong editor, which was definitely a bad choice on my part.

There must be some middle ground here… I hope we can take this opportunity to start a true dialogue and stop bashing each other; perhaps we can take some action that results in changes to help us all.

nmw

judging by the email address alone there appears to be a 77% (253/329) chance that a spam-mail comes from a .COM address. GMail.COM (7 instances) just barely got its nose out in front.

;D nmw

Katy

I don't think there's any defense for blanket blind mailings, sorry. I've worked in periodical publishing for years and believe me, most mags are understaffed as hell. It's really crappy to have to take time out of the day, EVERY day, to clean up the mess made in my inbox by PR e-mailers who just don't bother doing their homework. If I work for a visual arts periodical, for instance, I seriously do not need your press release touting the advent of a new era in laminate flooring. Do me the courtesy of not wasting my time, please. It's that simple.

EJ

Whiners:

First of all, I'm in p.r. and I agree with much of what was said here. Agencies suck. It's why I haven't worked in one for 8 years and I make a great living as a freelancer.

But corporate clients suck too. When I started out in a big agency and was annoying the crap out of you journalists, I promise you, any directive I had to spam you came from the Director of Marketing at some division of a Fortune 100 company, who was probably screaming at my boss and threatening his or her job. It made my skin crawl, and I pretty much stopped doing it when I went freelance.

And by the way, here's how I've pitched Wired the last few years -- client says we want to be in Wired, I say they'll never write about you and you don't need the people who read it anyway. It doesn't drive business, it doesn't affect consumer decisions and it's not about what anyone I've ever met in my life wants to read about. It's esoteric crap.

Client looks me in the eye and says, We want to be in Wired.

I roll my eyes, write a nice long letter to Wired that is as well-targeted as possible, roll my eyes again and send it.

Well, from now on the response is going to be "If you want to pitch Wired, hire someone else."

And by the way, journalists, you don't want me to waste your time? I don't want you to waste my time either. If you don't want to be contacted, list a fake address on the site and in Bacons, sift through it once a week and keep your mouth shut. Do you see me screaming my head off at you for all the crap I have to waste my life reading on Profnet for the 1 out of 500 story that is fit for one of my clients? No. Because I understand it's part of the job, and I'm an adult.

And for those of you on here who aren't jounralists but have a disdain of p.r., tell you what, you get on the phone with a journalist and tell them what your company does and why they should write about you and see how long you last.

Better yet, if you'd like to start a list somewhere of journalists who don't want be contacted, ever, and companies that don't want to be promoted, it'll make my life a lot easier.

Michael Monello

I think the point you are making, Chris is true and valid, but publishing the emails is, well, uncool.

Truthfully, have you EVER made a mistake? Have you ever said or done something you regretted? Aren't you glad someone with a large readership and influence didn't use your error in judgement to publicly humiliate you?

Instead of discussing the PR industry and best practices, everyone in arguing over your decision to publish the list, so you've undermined your own point.

hapbt

What will be most interesting to see is if after all this fuss, anything changes?

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tidbits

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

Order the hardcover now!