Press Release, Spam, What's The Difference?

from the it-seems-to-be-clearly-spam dept

It’s amazing the level of stupidity to which PR people will sink. Just two weeks after we wrote about idiotic PR people submitting press releases to us when we clearly ask them not to, one company has sunk to a new low — and it’s making me wonder if PR pitches are officially spam under the law. First, instead of using the submission function, this PR spammer tracked down my email address. Not hard to do, but if you want anyone here to write about something, it makes our life much better to use the submission page. That’s why we have it. If you’re going to make our lives more difficult, why would we ever bother to make yours better by giving you free publicity? If you can’t take the time to actually read the site and understand the process, why should we take the time to hype up your fake news? However, instead of just sending the usual note that PR people tend to do, this individual sent us FOUR press releases in a row, all using CAPITAL LETTERS and all marked URGENT. I honestly thought it was traditional spam at first, as I would any time I received four emails in a row written in capital letters from someone I didn’t know. However, it’s clearly been sent to us for posting purposes. The company in question (who I won’t bother to name) has been mocked on certain other sites for its ability to take whitebox laptops, mark up the price to ridiculous levels, and then promote it as their own (you figure it out). None of the announcements are even remotely interesting to our audience, and anyone who had read Techdirt for more than a day would know not to bother submitting them. It’s no surprise, of course, that this guy clearly does not read the site. However, when I looked closer at the emails in question, I think I could make a very convincing case that they are, indeed, spam as defined by the law. First, the message does not include, as required, the address of the company sending the PR spam. Second, the “from” line includes a name, but no email address. The guy didn’t spoof a different email address, but somehow fudged the headers so that there’s no email address in the from or reply-to fields. There is no option to opt-out. In fact, it’s not easy to email them back to ask to opt-out because there’s no reply-to email address. So, beyond just being entirely moronic, is this company guilty of spamming? Update: It gets worse. I just went through my spam filter, and it caught seven more spam/press releases from this guy. He spammed me with 11 press releases, all urgent, all in capital letters, no reply-to address and no return address.

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Comments on “Press Release, Spam, What's The Difference?”

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Michael Randall (user link) says:

I think I got them too

Can’t remember the name they came from now, and I deleted them as spam – if they’re the same ones, they’re definitely spam, not PR. From some guy’s full name, in all caps, all about those overhyped flaptops that have just released a new family that apparantly enjoys a threesome? Gold, silver, Hollywood, sort of things?

I do have a little blog, but I’m in no way part of a news site, and don’t solicity press releases in any form, so it’s definitely spam. I’d say go for it and name/shame them.

Good Flack says:

No Subject Given

Spam no, annoying yes. Just ingnore the email. If someone can’t spend a few minutes to learn more about the “media” he or she is attempting to pitch, not worth replying to.

Enough of the general, sweeping characterizations of ALL PR people. There are some out there who know how to play the game. As a former journalist and current media relations person, I for one can say that we are not all 20-somethings named Jennifer or Curt shooting out 600 unsolicited pitches to media.

Don’t get me started on my generalizations of all those in the media, or those techno “experts”, or bloggers thinking they are journalists because they now have a piece of paper on which to print.

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