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October 29, 2007

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Chris Anderson

Susan wrote:

"This is mean-spirited. It's part of your job as the leader of the organization to forward emails appropriately or delete them or come up with a reasonable way for PR folks to connect with the right person on your editorial team. Currently, you only list the addresses of your ad sales staff under Contact Info."

Wow. Where do I start? First, it's not my job to forward unwanted and inappropriate emails, or even to delete them. It's *your* job to ensure your emails are appropriate.

Second, you're wrong about us not publishing contact info. Most stories we run have the author's email address included. Here's a crazy idea: how about you actually read what we write, take time to find out what reporters specialize in what topics, and only email the ones that seem to cover the topic you're pushing?

Or would that be too much work for you?

cynthia brumfield

Wow! I had no idea how precious and special you are until just now. I'm on this list and I'm a blogger and an analyst not a pr firm. I didn't know you were on my list until now but believe me you're off it now. I only wish I had your sense of entitlement. Then I too would publish the hundreds of email addresses of unsuspecting fools who send me emails that I don't want to read. I suspect that quote a few of them are from wired.com.

mike

Hi,

I understand your problem however I think publishing all these emails actually means you lost the moral ground and have in some way lowered yourself to their standards. i feel you should have maintained the upper hand, state the problem not post the addresses. imho of course.

At least this is one well less blog for me to read each day (as i am now unsubscribing from your blog) now thanks for that. I didnt subscribe to receive that content (its not relevant).

phoenix

I absolutely love the fact that the only people who have commented and are offended are PR spammers. I think that, more than the post, more than the list, more than anything else, speaks volumes.

David

Interesting comments.

Chris, I understand some of your frustration with tost (to keep with the breakfast theme -- spam, bacn, now tost = marginally relevant unsolicited email you receive as host of a large company. First to use? meh, maybe someone can come up with a better new annoying meme), though I don't quite travel in your rarified air.

But, I agree that your publishing the baby with the bathwater here qualifies as shock tactics. Maybe you'll agree that any practical solution must take a more measured, or at least a more selective approach. After the fact that you got some revenge stops feeling so darned good, that is.

David

OK, how about corn flacks?

There, done.

Paul K

You should keep a running list, and add to this daily. PR spammers of the world: this is just the beginning.

Shelley

Anyone on this list is probably already on dozens of 'spamming' lists so you're not exposing anyone to the wolves. As you say, your authors email addresses are posted with their articles, your email address is posted, mine is, both at my weblog and at O'Reilly--most of our email addresses are on at least one list, somewhere.

Your solution is rather abrupt, and a little cold. However, understandable because you do only have a finite amount of time.

An unsolicited suggestion? This might be a sign that who to send emails to isn't as clearly defined at Wired. Or not, and as you say, the flac...ur...PR people are lazy. One note I will mention in the PR people's favor, you might be on the lists because of your book and your blog, and less because of your position at Wired.

Still, mass email lists are irritating. I block them, because like you, I won't do an unsubscribe because the email and unsubscribe might be a con.

brem

There's a reason only 3% of people bother to press the link at the bottom of your spam email, the 97% others simply don't waste their time reading it and send it in the trash can.

Mark Coker

Hey Chris,

A friendly suggestion for you. I just perused Wired's home page. You don't make it very easy for a PR person without a subscription to media directories like Cision/Mediamap or Vocus to connect with the proper staffer. The links to "Contact us", "Wired staff", and "Press Center" don't contain beat information.

Maybe you could borrow a page from InformationWeek, who IMHO has always done a great job helping PR pros contact the right people. You go to their home page, click on "contact us" - http://informationweek.com/contactus.jhtml - and you're presented with all the staffers and their beats, along with a helpful hyperlink to http://www.informationweek.com/prtools/ with even more helpful advice for PR people who want to work with IW editors.

I think if you were to provide such information, you and your staffers might better benefit from the PR community.

Without detailed beat information, you're leaving some PR folks to guess whether or not they think you'd be interested in their news, and sometimes they'll guess wrong.

bob corrigan

I see an email address from a former PR agency I once worked with. I thought they were hacks then, and you have just provided me with another nugget of evidence that they are hacks.

What an interesting - and cautionary - exercise this is. Thanks.

joshua cyr

I know I shouldn't be surprised at the number of info@ emails, but for PR people that is rather shocking. If I read that PR item and get excited I should at least have a real persons email to respond to. I was happy to see that the PR agencies I work with are not on that list. They are not all hacks. :-)

rob

Dan says:
"I've tried individual emails which gets an even lower response. So, I started sending out stock list updates via a mass emailing and the response has been nothing short of phenomenal."
Then he asks:
"why not just hit the unsubscribe button? Why give out your email?"

Because your whole argument is, "doing things the 'good internet citizen' way doesn't benefit me as much as doing things the obnoxious way." You made the "self interest case".

But we'd prefer you do things the 'good internet citizen' way. Since self interest is the only thing that seems to make sense to you, well, now you have to factor a new thing in. If you do it the obnoxious way, you end up on a list like this.

See how that works?

Another intelligent idea

What's actually the most interesting is when the journalist or editor is on the OTHER side... I've done PR for a number of "talk of the town" companies where journalists have been pleading to get an interview with an executive. You should see the look of righteousness on the face of an in-house PR person when they finally figure out they aren't the ones trying to make the sale anymore.

But here's an idea-- if you're really offended by this post, don't just cut out Chris, cut out Wired. What would the publication do if PR flaks stopped sending pitches and releases? Actually do real investigative journalism?

Too bad his "email forward" finger doesn't work as well as his "email blocked" finger. Guess it takes too much energy. But then again, I guess I'll just have to steer my clients away from Wired now. You know, the magazine really isn’t as influential as it used to be. A story in Wired? Not worth your dollars... I say, with an attitude that really becomes a win-win for both of us. I don’t have to pitch you anymore, and you don’t have to deal with my clients.

PR and journalism have a symbiotic relationship-- remember, we provide you **access** to our executives, so unless you want to actually **work** (ie, dig) for your stories, stop being so spiteful.

Yuval R

Dan convinced me that spamming is beneficial for small businesses.

PR people are just trying to do their jobs. Working in bulk is efficient. The Net will mature eventually and you'd be able to opt-out, and do that in bulk, too.

Until that time comes this is the reality. If I was running a SOHO-size business I'd use spam too now, an excellent example of UGC, and of publicly trying to humiliate people being a double-edged sword. Shame on you!

dblwyo

Fascinating and excellent on several fronts.

While I take the point of several commentors about making these folks spam-exposed sobeit :) !
There's two other strategic points that are ven more interesting.
1) you've just published a list of PR folks and contacts that don't earn their money by properly researching their targets. Wonder what that does for their business models ? It certainly tells us who not to use.
2) Which leads to the larger question of why don't they invest in building up a targeted list of high alignment targets. Such a database would take time and effort but it would be accumulating more and more valuable contact information. It would, in other words, be an appreciating asset and yield major strategic returns.

Bravo Zulu

MosaicCFO

Chris,

There are two sides to this issue. On your side, which includes other "A" list bloggers, I would agree that there is definitely an overabundance of junk mail that you receive from both legitimate PR folks and spammers. However, the flip side is the second tier blog community that unfortunately do not get the time of day from PR firms or companies but who are truly interested in being approached by the right person with a relevant piece.

To make the issue more complicated, imagine that you are with a PR firm and need to target a subsection of a social network or blogosphere...where do you even start to get a sense of distribution that has impact?

A team of us in Houston believe we have an answer to this problem and are working around the clock to launch TipDish this November, a social media directory and wire service for communication professionals. The objective is to provide a controlled environment for social media leaders and influencers ("Dishers") to request relevant news, information and products from companies, organizations, PR and marketing professionals ("Tippers"). Since TipDish will be a voluntary system, we can create a trusted and controlled environment for more efficient and productive media exchange.

I hope you don't nuke my plug but your issues are what we are trying to address. I will let you know when we have our public launch.

Regards,
Josh Tabin, CEO
TipDish, communicate with influence

non-pr person

Wow, what a knee-jerk response.

You are the editor of a large, popular magazine.

Your job is to process information and show us stuff you think is interesting.

If you don't like getting so much email, perhaps a change in career is in order

OneFlack

Fish, barrel, meet Chris Anderson and his trusty sawed-off shotgun.

In his next article, perhaps he will speak out against people who don't use their signals when changing lanes and provide you a list of the license plates of everyone he's witnessed violate the rule in the last three years. He also should consider a long feature listing the addresses of homeowners who don't mow their lawn in his neighborhood.

In all seriousness, as a PR pro, I agree that spamming journalists blindly is wrong - and I'm not on this list, nor likely anyone's.

But the bottom line is that 95% of tech journalists rely very heavily (and probably too much) on proactive outreach from PR people to fill their sites with content.

When the day arrives when the average tech editor actually gets off his keester and does some investigative journalism, i.e., proactively FINDING a story, then I'll start to feel bad for him when it comes to this terrible burden of hitting the delete key. But as long as the majority take press releases or one-source interviews, put their byline atop and call it a story, I won't.

Chris should take this up with his colleagues in the industry, who ignore weeks of perfectly well-targeted email pitches in advance of planned features only to call us 20 minutes before their deadlines demanding we scramble for an interview. Or those who fail to show up for double-confirmed interviews.

This is why we do keep calling, emailing and sending smoke signals. It's because "no" doesn't necessarily mean no and "yes" doesn't necessarily mean yes.

This may come as a shock to those who feel the title editor somehow automatically indoctrinates them into an elite and high minded fraternity of professionals - the worst of your colleagues are just as lazy as the worst of us.

Josie

Thank you, Chris! Thank you!!!! Please flush the profession out of the imbeciles! (You are leaving out a bunch of the high tech PR firms, btw. Hint hint!)

Matt

Way to go Chris. Don't let these "that's childish" people get you to take this list down. This is a great idea and all spammers, whether they're hawking pills or working for a PR firm need to be stopped.

NOTE: the blog wouldn't let me say "hawking v..gra" I guess that's a spam word.

amy

What a boring entry. Poor journalist attacked by PR people.

I'm so sick of being attacked by journalists who often themselves are too lazy to do anything but pick up press releases verbatim. I'm also sick of being hung up on when I actually have legitimate news to share. Why are journalists so hard to reach anyway. To get news covered somehow we have to have gone to insider industry shows or taken you out to lunch so that you return our call. The press should report on the news not just what is filtered to them via their PR buddies. Posting mean lists villifying people who are likely jr level pr people who have been told by their bosses to spam you is lame. If you don't want emails tell us how to reach you and how we can work together. This elitist journalist stuff is crap.

patricia

I'm a long time veteran of PR and also a journalist, so I've seen both versions of this movie in the past. I personally love the PR firms and appreciate all the stuff they send to my site, StyleDiary (www.stylediary.net) because a lot of it is relevant and ends up making the content better for readers and really, the job a little easier for us :)

I think the problem, personally, in what you're describing lies in part with the companies that are hiring firms. I am lucky to have worked with many, many good ones, but I can say first hand that there are far many more that pressure firms and AEs to the point where sloppy work is the only way things can happen. Companies don't really understand media, journalist needs, what makes a story, or that good brand building (the point of PR) takes a LOT of time. At least three months of establishing the company's credibility with reporters and securing articles, minimum. The problem is, companies are usually funded and have to make sense out of that money, they don't care about the process or how to improve it - they just put pressure on their firms to generate results. I've had clients angry at me for not placing them in something for a week.

Often times, the start ups - who are the most difficult to secure coverage on because they have so little proof - are the worst. And, right now, it's very blog driven, which is news driven, which means no more big features or pitching long lead press. In other words, the environment is very, very hard on publicists, and in order to deliver, they have to cut as much time as they can. I believe this is why it happens.

Krista

Research. Research. Research.

Research. (Thought I'd add one more for good measure.)

A guy

Wow, what a tool you are. Never post people's email addresses online! And to think you work for wired!? I hope you're fired!

Sabrina

(Here via BoingBoing.) I find it entertaining to read the number of people who are offended by the idea of someone's deliberate choice not to read someone else's email. Here's an idea, guys: just as it's my right (and my pleasure) not to answer my front door or my telephone if I choose not to, in my inbox, on my time, we play by my rules... the rest is your problem.

I don't know where people get the idea that they're entitled to someone else's attention just by wanting it, but it's sincerely very obnoxious.

slabuda

I am not a PR person, but I am a fan of some of your writing. I think you have jumped the shark with this list. Why not just create a rule in Outlook to move all email that is not from a known sender out of your inbox? If people are in your contact list the message will get through and if they are not the message will get moved to a folder that you can scan periodically. You could then mark things as Spam in bulk from this secondary folder. It would take you about 30 minutes a month and would solve your problem without making you look like an ass.

Rich Kulawiec

The comments about exposing addresses to spammers are fatuous: spammers have myriad ways of acquiring email addresses, including subscribing their harvesters to just the sort of poorly-managed mailing lists that these PR flacks are so busy broadcasting their addresses to. (And oh-by-the-way: even incompetent spammers are quite capable of writing the minimal code required to de-obfuscate constructs like username (at) domainname.)

It is best to presume that ANY email address is already in the hands of spammers and plan defenses accordingly.

It's also interesting to note that some known spammer domains are represented in that list: ccsend.com, email-publisher.com (aka Topica), gmi-mr.com, marketingsherpa.com, p0.com, uptilt.com, vresp.com, whatcounts.com, among others, are all present on many blacklists -- and with good reason.

Atticus Moog

It is hard out here for a pimp.

VC

Chris, c'mon. You're better than this, and so is "Wired." What you're doing here is just counter-productive. I'm the editor of a well-known financial publication, and I know what it feels like to get bombarded everyday with unwanted phone calls and e-mails from PR people. But as Hyman Roth in the "Godfather Part II" said, "I knew that this is the business we have chosen!!" In other words, unsolicited press releases and phone are just part of our business, the nature of the beast. Good PR people - ones who know what they're doing - actually can be very helpful.

When you get an unwanted press-release via e-mail, just hit the delete button and get on with your life. When you get an unwanted phone call from a PR person, just tell them you're not interested and hang up.


Stephen Davies

I used to work with one of the people on that list. This person is very smart, very good at his job and a genuinely nice guy.

I think it's a little harsh to call and others like him out on here as I imagine most of these people are still relatively young in their careers.

Technical Writing Geek

It might make sense for all editors to have personal email addresses, and to have a public address for the kinds of emails like this that are like a wire service in themselves.

Brad Davis

What I think is most hilarious about this is the people mad about the OP's posting these e-mails. Seems pretty fair to me.

L'Emmerdeur

Remind me again: what's the difference between a journalist and a flack these days?

To Dan Bannister:

Word to those who wish to be wise: You want us to use the "Unsubscribe" link if we don't want to get your emails. We would each have to do this for, say, 15-20 minutes every day. Are you going to compensate us for this time? You should. See, you took the shortcut. Instead of doing your job and building a proper list of contacts, you spammed what turned out to be an arbitrary list of emails, and forced others to do your work for you. And you want us to do this for free.

Are you from the Glorious South? They still daydream about people working for them for free down there.

almost vegetarian

As a journalist and a blogger, I get an extra large helping of email messages from PR people. Loosely one-quarter of them are for a beat I haven't covered in, oh, the better part of a decade. Another quarter is about topics I never have, and never will, cover (I am especially fond of the releases from meat producers sent to my vegetarian blog).

I must lose the better part of an hour every day dealing with this. So, clearly, I can empathize.

I have always held that when PR is good, it is very, very good, but when PR is bad it is naughty.

The PR people, above, seem to be very naughty. So bravo for posting their email addresses. I know from experience that the unsubscribe button does little and pleading does less, so here's hoping this will help us all.

Shame that it had to come to this, though, isn't it? Ah well.

Cheers.

Eric Eggertson

Chris:

If you feel so strongly about this, you might want to update this blog's "About" page to indicate that anyone wanting to send something to the editorial team at Wired should use the editor@wired.com address, rather than your e-mail.

I know the protocol of contacting your publication seems so basic to you that you shouldn't have to explain it to anyone. But that's what good communication is about - making sure things are clear to people, even if English isn't their first language.

I see posts like yours from time to time, and the general message is: "I'm publishing my rules of engagement in this single blog post for anyone wanting to contact me. If you don't read my blog daily, you deserve to be publicly outed when you violate these rules."

A blog post is a great place to get a discussion going, but if you really want to improve the situation, you can also do your part by making your own contact page a little more explicit.

David B.

WTF?!?

I think it's pretty ridiculous that a media person or journalist would blacklist any email from a PR firm. If you don't want press releases as a media outlet then open a plumbing business for cryin' out loud! This speaks more to your credibility(ies) as a media outlet then anything about the "laziness" of PR firms.

I've seen some abuse of authority and vindictiveness, but this really puts you and Wired into a new class. Who are you (as part of a media outlet) to make public the email addresses of individuals at PR firms who are doing their job by providing you with potentially valuable info? I hope one of the firms sues you.

Michael Kovacs

Hey Chris,

Forgive the product pitch but you may want to take a look at PitchWire (http://www.pitchwire.com). We created PitchWire to help solve this very problem. You can sign up, specify what you cover and types of pitches you're interested in, tell PR folks that you want to be pitched via PitchWire which allows you to easily filter unsolicited pitches. You can take incoming pitches and delegate them by forwarding them to other journalists on your team.

You can also add stories that you're working on to PitchWire and it'll notify PR that work in your beat so they can pitch you for your story. There's more information on the site along with a demo movie for you to see how things work.

Feel free to email me with any comments, suggestions, etc.

Best regards,
Michael Kovacs
Co-Founder PitchWire.com

EH

Ah, so there seems to be consensus, then: PR people shouldn't have to change anything and Chris deserves all that he gets due to his job description. Furthermore, he is not allowed to complain at all until the spam problem is solved for everybody.

PR people would not buy the k-r4d spamlists they do if they weren't assured that each and every email address was live and extra awesome. Guaranteed $$$! So what's the problem again? Oh yeah, Chris should accept whatever time-abuse can be imagined to be visited upon him and lazy/incompetent PR people get to just keep on truckin'.

Chris P.

Chris, I apologize on behalf of my firm that this time we were off the mark. Unfortunately, one of my employees is on this list. My heart dropped when I saw it, of course. But just as I’m sure you have made mistakes in your career, so too, do PR executives. That being said, I do not think that was the case in regard to my employee who most certainly does not fall into the category of, “Lazy flacks [who] send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can't be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they're pitching.”

Our executive indeed tried a few different reporters at Wired (three, not thousands) with a very tailored pitch based on a former article that appeared in Wired on a related topic to our pitch, and we referenced that article. In the past, you’ve actually been kind enough to say, “I’m not interested, but you might try my colleague so-and-so.” And therefore, our executive asked, at the end of this pitch, that if you weren’t interested in the angle, might you suggest a colleague who would be.

So the rules of engagement have obviously changed – and that’s fine – but this exchange was not generic, not spam and not from that of a lazy PR executive. She did her homework, she found related materials by Wired and she based her approach to you on pleasant, similar exchanges with you in the past.

Your publishing of this list incites hatred against an entire group of people – just look at those comments - lumping all PR professionals into one demonized entity whom you present as awful, stupid, lazy, clueless and so on. How would you feel if you and your colleagues were lumped in with the Jayson Blairs of the journalist world?

We, too, are “actual people” – hard working, talented individuals with families to support and mortgages to pay. If you don’t respect our chosen profession, that’s fine, but don’t lead the torch-wielding villagers against all of us. We’re really not deserving of it.

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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.

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