You know the rest. Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired (when did they change their website? It’s a vast improvement), has posted a rant about PR people randomly spamming him with media releases. He’s gone so far as to publish the email addresses of 329 people who have wasted his time in the last month. As you might imagine, he’s sparked a wildfire of discussion.
Good for him. There’s far too much of this useless send-release-to-a-big-list in the industry, and it needs to go away. That ol’ nugget about public relations being about relationships is 100% true. You don’t build relationships via spam, you build spite and loathing.
Could Chris have taken the high road and not posted the email addresses? Probably, but he wouldn’t have caused the subsequent, compelling conversation.
There are a ton of comments on Chris’s post, and I wanted to extract a few that resonated with me. They’re after the jump:
I used to be in Chris’ position at Wired, but I left over ten years ago. I am still getting PR spam from people trying to get Wired’s attention. I don’t have time to unsubscribe from each one, so like Chris, all email from the sender is automatically junked. – Kevin Kelly
I do PR AND advertising buys and I can’t get your Ad reps at WIRED to stop spamming me in the same exact manner! I am not going to publish a list of your reps as it is just part of doing business. – Anonymous
A friendly suggestion for you. I just perused Wired’s home page. You don’t make it very easy for a PR person without a subscription to media directories like Cision/Mediamap or Vocus to connect with the proper staffer. The links to “Contact us”, “Wired staff”, and “Press Center” don’t contain beat information.
Maybe you could borrow a page from InformationWeek, who IMHO has always done a great job helping PR pros contact the right people. – Mark Coker
I’m the editor of a very small (compared to Wired) e-zine. I have the same problem Chris does with junk from PR firms. This has led me to a pair of policies. First, any email from a PR person goes straight to the bit bucket. We don’t publish press releases, “white papers,” or anything else not written by a professional in our industry. – Bill
A couple of notes here: I think Mark does make a good point. Wired could do a better job of advising PR people who to contact. Obviously PR folks should do the research, but there’s a compromise position that helps both parties.
Bill is an exception to the rule in the media. Journalists have, to a varying degree, come to rely on the PR industry to feed them content. I can’t say how much Wired relies on this mechanism, but when the system works, everybody wins.
I’m a long time veteran of PR and also a journalist, so I’ve seen both versions of this movie in the past. I personally love the PR firms and appreciate all the stuff they send to my site, StyleDiary because a lot of it is relevant and ends up making the content better for readers and really, the job a little easier for us – Patricia
Forgive the product pitch but you may want to take a look at PitchWire. We created PitchWire to help solve this very problem. You can sign up, specify what you cover and types of pitches you’re interested in, tell PR folks that you want to be pitched via PitchWire which allows you to easily filter unsolicited pitches. – Michael Kovacs
Oy, that’s a bit crass from PitchWire, eh?