Earth to PR people: stop spamming!

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I (still) get dozens of press releases every day. Why? I’m not entirely sure but I think I’ve been added to some ‘influential blogger’ contact list that some spammy company has been selling to lazy PR firms.

There is no logic to this list. I get emails about baby products, fashions, wedding gifts, drug treatment centres (seriously), moronic books. I complained about this 2009 and nothing has changed.

If you want me to write about your client on my blogs, here are a few tips:

  1. Don’t buy a mailing list. They’re self-evidently spam. You’ll just encourage disreputable firms to continue compiling stupid lists.
  2. Give recipients a clear, easy ‘unsubscribe’ option. As Jakob Nielsen says ‘you don’t have a user’s “permission” once that user stops wanting the newsletter’.
  3. Use your imagination. Most of the PR-spam that I get looks like a 1980s press release cut and pasted into an email format. Duh! There are lots of ways of making your press releases better without making them more annoying.
  4. Watch your spam reporting rates. If you use a service like Mailchimp, you’ll get reports about how often your mails are reported as spam. If this goes over zero, it’s a warning sign.
  5. Read people’s blogs. Don’t send them messages that aren’t relevant to their area of interest. That’s spam too. In particular, don’t send spam about anti-spam products.
  6. Make personal contact. Write a personal email (don’t call *please*) and introduce yourself and the topics you cover.
  7. Get a sensible Facebook and LinkedIn profile picture. Many Outlook users now have Facebook and LinkedIn connected to their account so they’re seeing your picture alongside your email. Some PR Facebook photos are truly off-putting. Get a good photo.
  8. Keep the emails short. A headline, a short paragraph, a link to more information and contact details is all anyone needs. More than this is a waste of everyone’s time and a waste of your client’s money.
  9. Follow up in a sensible way. Don’t (DO NOT) follow up an email press release with a phone call. There is almost nothing on the planet more annoying than this. (Although for suggestions, try these tips on how to annoy journalists.)
  10. Offer something useful. Why would I write about a press release? If you’re going to reach out to bloggers, offer something they can use.

I write about aviation on Forbes and Golf Hotel Whiskey. I write about technology, writing and marketing here on Bad Language. If you have relevant interesting stories to pitch, products to review or ideas to discuss, I’m listening. But please, I beg you, no more baby shampoo.

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