I can almost see journalists worldwide giving a virtual high-five to Wired Magazine’s editor-in-chief Chris Anderson this week. The reason: He published a list of the addresses of PR people who put him on mass mailing lists, and vowed to block them from ever reaching his In Box again.
It gets to the heart of a conflict that every company has to contend with in the Internet age. People are so easy to reach via e-mail that it takes no thought or effort to shoot them off a note at any minor piece of news. There are small consulting companies in Michigan (and a tea company in California … the list goes on) that blast me e-mails every time they have a staff change or new product. I have since myself taken off their distribution list—or simply kill everything that comes my way from their companies.
I must also be listed as my magazine’s contact in some media directory somewhere, as I often get calls from folks at big-name PR agencies asking me technical questions about our supplements. (“When is your gift guide coming out?” … We publish a gift guide? or — my favorite — “Who do I send press releases to?” … Well, it depends.)
But everyone has to deal with what amounts to high-level spam. The problem is that many companies still don’t see the cost of treating e-mail like a cheap soapbox for getting their message out. Simply putting “Dear Diane” at the top doesn’t disguise it.
I love to get ideas and, in fact, many of the best stories over my career have come from smart PR people (often suggesting subjects that don’t even relate to their clients). I will always open a pitch from, say, Starkman & Associates or FD. They tend to be original, newsy and relevant to our audience. For some others, I have to weigh the cost of perhaps missing one idea by “unsubscribing” vs. the benefit of no longer sifting through dozens of irrelevant messages. I often opt for the latter.
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