So it seems I struck a chord. My post on blocking people and companies who send me mass-mailed, indiscriminate press releases and other announcements that I didn't ask for and show no awareness of my interests is now heading towards 300 comments, which is a record for this blog.
A few thoughts, reactions and clarifications:
- Some people misunderstood what is being blocked. It is just the senders' email address, not the entire domain. I treat the offenders as individuals, and never make the mistake of assuming that their colleagues share their bad habits.
- Some people were amazed that I would put so much time into creating and organizing the list. I didn't. Pressing "Block sender" is as easy as pressing "Delete" and outputting the list in Outlook took three clicks and ten seconds: "Junk Mail Options/Blocked Senders/Export to file."
- Many people wrote to apologize, promising to reform their ways, and asked to be taken off the list. I've written to all of them to thank them for their commitment to change, but I'm not going to undo history. The list, like mutual funds, reflects past behavior but does not necessarily indicate future performance.
- Chiandra Teitscheid from the National Geography Society wrote:
You probably already know that we publicists use a mediasource database called Cision. If not, it's a paid service we have that gives us all of the media's contact info, and also lists pitching tips for people. Now, I don't know why any publicist would pitch the editor-in-chief of a mag, but thought I would let you know what the listing for your name says under pitching tips (in case you were wondering.)
Anderson is the Editor in Chief. He heads the staff and oversees the design and direction of the publication. The assistant editor is the primary point of contact for the magazine. Send press releases to the general e-mail address.
So not only are people using lists, they're not even following the advice on those lists.
- Amusing secondary effects include people pitching their business in the comments (which I thought was fine, btw), and even PR companies emailing the clients of people on the list and encouraging them to switch firms. "We're not on the list!" is their marketing tactic. Wow. [UPDATE: holy crap!]
Mediabistro's PRNewser interviewed me about the episode, asking if any PR pitches work with me, and you can read my answer there. It starts like this:
Yes, many pitches have “worked”, which is to say that I have a great relationship with many PR people, mostly because they’ve taken the time to get to know my interests, read what I write, and otherwise contact me with ideas that are relevant. The best of them do such a good job at working with me on things I’m following that I think of them as friends and colleagues. [read on]
Finally, of all the great comments, this is my favorite, from David Calkin. Excerpts:
Chris says: "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?"
That's how my tiny little company built up an incredible dB of press folks who love my missives. I read a story relevant to our business (robots), I grab their email and add 'em to my dB. It never - no really - never once occurred to me to buy one of those "contact" lists that PR firms hawk. Almost every email I send to my "spam list" (self titled), gets some sort of reply. Like "Cool event, can't make it - sorry. Keep me posted on the next one" Or "Wow, can we get two press passes." Or most often, "Can you email us contestants in our constituency so we can interview them for the local angle?"
Of the 1500 or so people (note, "people" not "titles") in my self-collected db, I think I've gotten 10 un-subscribes. All of whom just switched jobs. There's no one in our dB that covers the weather. Or wars. Or fluffy little kittens. They all cover tech, robots, AI, etc. And they LIKE getting my "spam."
My advice to those who loathe Chris' response to these spams - listen to him. All he's really asking is for you to do your job. Your job is PUBLIC F-ING RELATIONS. If you're pissing off your public - which you are - it's time to change your methods, and - oh, how can I put this - you need to learn to better "relate" to your "public."