Be aware. Unsolicited PR emailings are ‘spam’.

This is an interesting topic and its for those of you out there who send out press releases using an editor mailing database. You know who you are. It’s become ‘business-as-usual’ for many corporate PR departments (and more PR agencies that we’d like to acknowledge) to act as if this is ‘just-how-you-do-what-you-do’. Sadly – it’s not.

Let me be clear on this. Our KOBN channels DO go to certain trade shows and conferences to film. We DO get in there free of charge under the auspices of being ‘Press’. And therefore, if I’m honest, the payment is, while not in monetary value, the accepting of a deluge of press releases arriving in your inbox, months before the event takes place and then for evermore. I get it. It’s the price you pay.

And sometimes (very rarely), it works out. That is, a story could be written or filming arrangements made, on the back of these PR spam mailings. But if I’m honest – its mainly luck. And by that, I mean that the story approach had already been decided upon and things fall into place. Most of the time though – it’s just junk. And if you’re really unlucky; badly formatted, edited and sometimes totally incomprehensible.

Concerning the PR agencies that send this stuff out, well, sometimes we’ve come across really good agencies who are professional and have a great approach to the press. They want to form  a long-term relationship and do their utmost to get you what you need. Sometimes though, the agencies are lazy and don’t even bother to gather any background information on who you are, what you do, your publication – you name it. Most of the time, the corporate PR departments that send these releases out appear to do so because they have a target to reach. The few times we have followed up on these releases, the person on the other end of the phone was either surprised, not sure what to do next or even unable to tell us any more than was in the release. Trust me – I’m not exaggerating.

My point is that sending these spam releases out doesn’t really do anything to endear you to the editors and journalists. Especially if they have not requested inclusion on a mailing list. Certain shows and conferences in the B2B arena make it a habit of letting any exhibitor have full access to the press list as an incentive and sweetener. But as I said – it’s the price you pay.

What would work is once you have a list – how about contacting the editors directly to gain their permission first. At the very least, your contacting of the editors involved and trying to speak to them, is the start of a relationship building exercise. Failing that, an ‘Unsubscribe’ button at the bottom of the spammed release would at least allow the editor some decision-making in the process.

I guess what I am trying to say is that just sending out releases to mailing databases is not good public relations – its spamming. Building a good PR campaign is all about  creating lasting relationships; with editors, with customers, with opinion makers and getting them to look favorably upon your product. No one ever did this through junk mail, electronic or otherwise.

Follow the rational from these blog-posts. They articulate on this subject better than I can. They all have something relevant to say but ultimately; no-one likes to get spam.

Post Background

  • Clearly, PR people are in a catch-22. They want to get the word out to the press, and email seems like a fast, cheap distribution method. It’s just that when you send unsolicited email in bulk, that is the very definition of spam.

via The whole PR profession really needs to get a grip | MailChimp Email Marketing Blog.

  • I’ve had it. I get more than 300 emails a day and my problem isn’t spam (Cloudmark Desktop solves that nicely), it’s PR people.

via The Long Tail – Wired Blogs.

  • Is no secret that we consider the PR industry, for the most part, the bane of our existence. They’re just under too much pressure to get results, and when we don’t do what they want (write about their clients), things turn ugly.

via I Pissed Off A PR Spammer Today.

DISCLAIMER: We have a MailChimp account. We don’t send unsolicited press releases out through MailChimp either. However, for permission-based mailings, MailChimp is, in our opinion, one of the best services out there today. But don’t take our word for it – visit them and see for yourself.