Take Your Press Release and Shove It

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Somehow I got on some spam lists that public relations firms use to promote their clients. Apparently, blogging about scams and ripoffs means that they think I want a zillion emails about their clients who are most definitely not peddling ripoffs and scams. [/snark]

So on a daily basis, my inbox is littered with press releases and emails telling me how so-and-so is available for commentary on issue X, which they just know my readers are concerned about. Or there was a fabulous new non-scammy service available for consumers who want to avoid scams…

Even better than unwanted press releases and email solicitations? Two or three from the same PR firm about the same topic, but from different employees there. As if that’s not annoying. I’ve tried asking nicely for them to stop emailing me. Now I’m not so nice anymore, and it still doesn’t help. What does it take to get these PR freaks to back off?

Oh, and please don’t comment that I should send them to my spam folder. I realize that’s an option. I also think that these freaks should police themselves and not send out so much spam, especially if people have told them they don’t want it.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my hatred for PR “professionals” who harass bloggers. Mike Masnick at Techdirt says he made it clear from the start that he didn’t want any press releases. But either PR people can’t be bothered to read his rules, or they blatantly disregard them. And of course, plenty of the press releases received at Techdirt aren’t even about topics they cover!

Mike makes an excellent point in his rant: Most PR people don’t have the slightest idea how to interact with bloggers in a way that actually gets them any results. It’s far too easy to carbon copy every email address they’ve ever gotten their hands on. Trying to build meaningful relationships with bloggers would actually take more effort than the three clicks it takes to send an email to a jillion people (most of whom don’t even want the email).

And check out this guy who says bloggers have a duty to accept press releases. What does he not get about the fact that I don’t want to receive press releases? And that those who send them to me ruin their chances of me writing about their topic. With each press release they send, they move further away from the possibility of me writing about them.

Let’s be clear about this, too… It’s no secret that these press releases are a complete one-way street. You want a blogger to give you air time, and in return…. Well. You’ll ask for more air time in the future. Those aren’t relationships, my friend.

Blogs are different than the old media, and if PR professionals want to be successful for their clients, they need to figure out a way to work with the new media.

Bloggers aren’t interested in blowing smoke for your clients just because you want them to. If you want advertising, go pay for it. If you want bloggers to write about your clients and give them some exposure, figure out the right way to make that happen. Press releases aren’t cutting it.

7 thoughts on “Take Your Press Release and Shove It

  1. Michael Goode

    I actually like the emails I get from the PR people from Kiplinger’s … they tend to not send me stuff often and I have posted their articles in the past. Luckily nobody thinks I matter so I don’t get any press releases from anybody.

  2. I certainly agree with your not wanting to receive press releases. But, I think you would have done everyone a favor just by letting PR people know what it takes to develop a relationship with bloggers. You have to remember that Digital PR is still a new science and many PR professionals are brining the tactics from the old media to this new platform. If the rules have changed so drastically, then someone should let them know what they are.

  3. Tracy Coenen

    You make an excellent point Marvin, but I can’t help but feel like the PR professionals need to educate themselves. I don’t get paid to tell them how to do their jobs. But clients do pay the PR people to figure out how to get the word out, so I feel like they should be proactive in figuring this one out.

    I’ll tell you what I’d do if I was a PR person. (Well… what I would have done about 3 years ago…)

    I would start looking for prominent blogs that deal with the topics my clients are involved with. I’d watch them for a couple of months to get a real good feel for who is writing and reading, and what’s going on there. Only after I was sufficiently knowledge able about that, I’d approach some of these bloggers who seem like a good fit to figure out how there could be a win-win relationship between us and how I could learn about using blogging as a PR tool.

    I probably would also start a GOOD blog. Now, I highlight the word GOOD because there are too many bad bloggers out there. It can’t be just a tool for posting press releases. It must be relevant and bloggy. And it must develop over time. A decent readership there would help develop this new strategy and readers might be very willing to give input.

    It just floors me that PR is their lives, yet so many of them are clueless about the whole thing.

  4. Tracy Coenen

    LOL – Marvin I just looked at your company’s website and see that you’re the PR guy. I hope you can make some use of what I’ve said above. Maybe we can even start a dialogue here about the issue.

  5. Hi Tracy:

    Very well put. Now see that was exactly what I was referring to in my earlier post. You described exactly what PR professionals can and should do to get their information to bloggers. In my line of work I deal strictly with digital PR, and seeing comments and blogs like yours do not offend me because I am not one of those PR professionals who just bombard a send out list with irrelevant press releases. You gave the perfect example in your post, there are bad bloggers out there, and behold, there are really bad PR people out there as well.

    Now here is something incredibly sensible that both sides can do: How about we learn from each other? Good PR people are always tuned in to great tactics that can help them get the word out about their clients. And, since bloggers are relatively new to the scene, but growing in influence and reach, it is certainly up to you guys to let the rest of us know how you want to be approached, when and in what format. The traditional media does it everyday with PR people, so why shouldn’t you? Trust me if there is a good synergy between PR and Bloggers, everyone will win out in the end. Us PR folks by finding a great new outlet for our clients, and you bloggers by finding new and innovative information to keep your blogs GOOD and informative.

    I am ceratinly up for a good discussion on how to do that anytime. Sounds like a pure market driven collaborative necessity a PR/Blogger Blog. My god what will they think of next???

  6. Tracy Coenen

    Speaking of bad bloggers, I just have to mention that my favorite type of bad blogger is the marketing professional who starts a blog about marketing to help market their marketing services….. A fine idea, but only if you’re able to execute. And some of these marketing peeps are really bad at blogging!

    That being said, there are plenty of accountants who are bad bloggers too. 🙂

    I definitely would not mind collaborating with good PR people who have a clue. Especially since I write for AOL @ Walletpop.com which has a much broader appeal than this site and would be a great place to showcase new ideas that have a financial spin.

  7. Hi Tracy:

    That sounds like a perfect challenge to members of my profession. Developing a mutually beneficial relationship between a blogger and PR professionals with clear delineated boundaries of what to send to you and even better, maybe discussing it with you before hand.

    So here is my challenge to you Tracy. Start by telling us what a GOOD blogger such as yourself expects of a good PR professional and the top five rules of “pitching” to Tracy Coenen. I am sure we can make it appealing to many PR people out there to begin taking notice, and better yet surprise you by staying on message and respecting the rules.

    Let the synergy begin!

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