Attention All PR People: Stop Sending Us Press Releases

from the let's-try-this-again dept

Every once in a while, it seems, we need to remind the PR world that we don’t want press releases. It says so on our submissions page. We’re not joking. However, too many PR folks either think we don’t mean it, or don’t bother spending enough time on the site to realize we don’t want press releases. You think we plan to pay attention to either type of PR spammer? We’ve had our fair share of posts highlighting stupid PR practices in the past, but (of course) the worst offenders don’t actually read this site — they just spam us. It’s not surprising, of course, to find out that we’re not alone in feeling this way. Amy Gahran over at E-Media Tidbits is explaining how she’s now marking all unsolicited press releases she gets as spam in her Gmail account, which hopefully protects plenty of other Gmail-using journalists from getting future spam from such people. Valleywag has recently pointed out that PR spammers are worse than traditional spammers, because they send you follow up emails to make sure you got the original. What amazes me is that these PR people clearly don’t care and don’t learn. There are PR people who have spammed press releases to me for years… and I’ve never replied or written about a single product. Yet, I’m still on the list.

I recently did a conference call/interview for an organization that advises PR people, and one of the questions was how to send pitches to Techdirt. The answer was the same way as it is for anyone who wants to submit stories to Techdirt: (1) Read the site. (2) Understand what the hell we talk about (3) Maybe participate on the site in comments (4) Use the submit form (5) Explain to us why whatever your pitching is really interesting to our audience, rather than just claiming its “exciting.” Oh yeah, if you claim that the company you’re representing is “the leading” company in whatever tiny market you’ve made up just so you can claim to be leading it… don’t even bother. It’s unfortunate that we need to put up posts like this every so often, but we’re hopeful that sooner or later it will start to sink in.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Attention All PR People: Stop Sending Us Press Releases”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous from Oslo (user link) says:

Re: Press Releases

I both agree and disagree.

With just a “this is spam” button which people click without thinking, the result is that you end up poisoning the antispam database. Of course, that is the problem of gmail and other providers, but _users_ need to realize this, as they are breaking their own service. ..

Joe Tavares says:

Re: Definition of SPAM

Actually, unsolicited email is just that, unsolicited. SPAM, by the original (and I think the current) definition is unsolicited email sent with no direct way to back to the source. The level of obnoxious behaviour can make the interpretation looser, but spam could simply be that pic of your golden retriever puppy if the header has been obfuscated so the return is impossible.

I agree with other posters when they made the observation that identifying non-SPAM as SPAM poisons the gmail list. Some of us might like reading gratuitous self-congratulating rhetoric.

Will Rankin says:

Hang on

I’ve worked in PR in the past. In my experience, you are under enormous pressure to get a release sent out before a certain time, often to a list of thousands of recipients, which, in the firm I worked in, were sifted maybe twice a year. You do not have time to call up, say, 2500 people every day to ensure they still want to receive releases.Thus, people got stuff they didn’t want. We did, however, deliniate the database by subject matter; ie tech, transport, retail, hospitality, fashion, etc..
Remember, one day you might need a PR person. And, as Gianna proves, not all PR people are unintelligent.
But having a hissy fit because you get a few too many unsolicited emails seems a bit over the top. While you’re writing your little site, people are out there dying.
PR companies act under the instruction of pushy demanding clients (one of the reasons I jacked it in), who often don’t have media understanding, simply a desire to see their news in as many outlets as possible. I’m sure you know this, but blame the CLIENT, not necessarily the PR company.
Ultimately, PR is bullshit written by bullshitters for bullshitters.
Oh, and so is journalism.
I’m in copywriting now. Might as well be an honest whore.

Lucky Joe says:

Re: Hang on

Will Rankin: While you’re writing your little site, people are out there dying.

What does that have to do with anything?

As for the rest of this post’s topic: If I get an email that I don’t want or from someone I don’t know– it’s spam, and I do not hesitate to mark it as such (I love Gmail!) I usually consider it my good deed for the day.

Terry Shea says:

Re: Hang on

I’ve worked in PR for 25 years — for 20 of them on the agency side. If an agency is pushing out press releases to please a client, then that agency isn’t properly servicing its clients. Clients shouldn’t be expected to understand how the media works — that’s why they hire an agency. A good agency (or PR person) educates clients on how the media works and explains to clients what strategy and tactics will accomplish their objectives — and has the confidence to tell a client that insists on press release blasts that such an approach is counter-productive.

Craven Twain says:

Too true...

Worse than PR companies spamming you with press releases you don’t want are PR companies who are too busy spamming you with etc to respond to individual queries when you have to make them.

Sometimes in order to get comment from a company you *have* to go through the PR agency. I write for the print media – those glossy computer monthlies – and have had PRs ignore emails and phone calls asking for information about site x or product y simply because that’s not what they’re currently programmed to tout… It means they’re failing entirely on both fronts.

fprintf says:

PR falls under marketing/sales for a reason

PR falls under marketing/sales for a reason. What you see as SPAM, we see as not taking no for an answer. Many PR people are ex-salespeople. The type of people who walk right past a sign that says “no soliciting” because they are “different than the other sales guys and you will want to hear what they have to say”. It is a bit conceited that way.

thecaptain says:

Re: PR falls under marketing/sales for a reason

What you see as SPAM, we see as not taking no for an answer. Many PR people are ex-salespeople. The type of people who walk right past a sign that says “no soliciting” because they are “different than the other sales guys and you will want to hear what they have to say”. It is a bit conceited that way.

And this is a big part why people hate pushy PR and sales people. No, you are NOT a unique special snowflake…when you push past MY “no soliciting” sign it doesn’t send the message that you are different…it sends the message that you are an inconsiderate asshat with no respect for my wishes (ie: to be left alone)

So, yeah…treat this unsolicited crap as spam…completely correct.

Time Wasted says:

Misery loving company?

Let’s see if I can sum it up.

1) PR people waste Techdirt time.
2) Techdirt wastes its readers time by whining about #1.

Why is #2 a waste of time? Because your readers, as you have mentioned, are NOT the PR people. So you posting about it does NOT target the PR people; it only targets your readers.

I know it’s your column/blog/whatever, but if you want people to keep reading it,


Reading Techdirt = Waste Of Time

I’m getting that assertion “programmed” into my head every time I hear a Techdirt whiner go into a personal venting b****-p***-and-moan session.

Please stop. You folks are better than this. Just realize it and move on.


Thanks for all the work you do, seriously, it is a good column for the most part.

But to follow the old mantra of never offering a complaint without also offering a solution…. Maybe as a compromise, if you folks really *DO* need the therapy of the b.p.m., you could split things up so that in addition to Techdirt Daily and Techdirt Wireless you could have a Techdirt BPM and all your b.p.m. stuff could *ONLY* appear in the BPM? (unlike wireless news, which crosses boundaries between Daily and Wireless, all the BPM should *ONLY* stay in bpm)

Somehow I think there’s a whole crowd of people — the type who subscribe to People Magazine, US and Entertainment weekly to get the latest gossip — that crowd might subscribe to the BPM version *ONLY* and not the “geekier” daily and wireless versions.

Thanks for your serious consideration of this matter. I offer my opinion in sincere hope that it will spur you to make Techdirt even greater than it already is — which is pretty damned great to start with.


Dan says:

Missing an opportunity???

Seems like you are missing an opportunity here.

You should create a special section in your website to allow PR people to post press releases about their company’s new widgets… For $29.95 each! Payable by Visa, MC, etc.

Anybody who posts a press release on your site outside of the press releases area get banned from ever posting again. Until, of course, they cough up the $29.95.

Who knows, maybe the future of your site is to be the most important press release site on the web, for $29.95 each.

lay off says:

it's easy to stop pr spam...

simply ask to be taken off the list. two words, which do not begin with F and Y — which was a lame response by the way. Just write Please Remove and save yourself the wasted anger.

Many reporters appreciate press releases and request to continue sending news along. Maybe you should do a survey of reporters and get some hard facts on the percentage of reporters who accepts and writes stories based on press releases vs. who doesnt’. that would add some weight to your column.

Davey says:

Everybody gets spam.

Your whining seems a little self-obsessed.

Since you don’t want to deal with PR people, I presume you never, never, call up Intel or Apple or any other tech company wanting product info for a story, or ask for a preview or a product to review. If you do, you’re looking for favors from those same PR people you so despise. If you claim you don’t, one would be curious about where you do get new product info — publications and sites that wrote their own stories based on press releases?

Amy Gahran (user link) says:

Glad you liked my article.

Hi, Mike.

I wrote the Poynter blog post you mentioned. I’ve gotta tell you, reading through the extensive and diverse responses here has been most educational, and even amusing.

Personally, it amazes me when PR people’s performance is measured by “messages pushed out” rather than “results achieved.” Trying to contact 2500 media outlets in a day to me seems wasteful and even antithetical to the goal of getting coverage. Especially when they don’t even bother to offer any opt-in methods of contact.

I wish more organizations, and their PR/marketing folks, would realize that opt-in is the way to go. And if you’re trying to establish a relationship, then do that. E-mail the reporter, express interest in their work, and a sincere willingness and ability to be helpful. Build those bridges in advance, not just when you have a story to push. Hands down, those are the sources that I call in a pinch. Blasting people with spam may get you occasional media hits, but establishing a few healthy connections with reporters will get you much further in the long run, with less effort.

Trying to blast media outlets with press releases represents lazy, ineffective PR, as far as I’m concerned. And I’m to busy to figure out whether I care about an unsolicited release. It’s faster to click the spam button. And if that hurts the sender’s reputation with Gmail, sorry, but that’s their problem.

– Amy Gahran

Alex Iskold (user link) says:

can't agree with you more

Press releases are absolutely useless these days. I can attest to this, because I am a technologist who turned into PR person because of the need to promote my company.

The problem is that traditional PR operates on a different wave length from modern web news. They just do not get how quickly news travels around these days, nor do they understand what actually constitutes news.

But they will have to get it soon. Get it or be totally out of the game.


Dave Burstein (profile) says:

I welcome the press releases

I also get swamped by releases, but think that as a journalist it’s fair to send them to me. I actually glance at most of them in my field (telecom, etc), and often find a nugget along the way.

I take the position that anything in a widely distributed press release is not news, however, and rarely report what they want me to cover. My definition of news is something my readers aren’t likely to know, and they can get the press releases directly.

Occasionally, I get a solid story from a release, as I did today. A small company I never heard of introduced a repeater that extends the range of DSL, an important topic for anyone who cares about broadband for everyone. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them if they hadn’t put out the release.

You still have a delete key, after all.


STEW says:


Iowa Veterans for Biden Announces Regional Chairs
Published: 11/30/2007


Victoria Dillon/515-440-2008
Mark Paustenbach/302-428-5427

Plans Community Forums Across Iowa

Des Moines, IA (November 30, 2007) – The Biden for President campaign today announced the Regional Chairs of its Iowa Veterans for Biden committee, which will host a series of community forums on veterans issues across Iowa throughout the month of December. The Regional Chairs, which will advise Sen. Biden on areas of concern to veterans, has planned the statewide forums in order to give Iowa veterans, their families, and their communities the opportunity to influence the national dialogue on veterans issues. This Sunday, Sen. Biden will join members of Iowa Veterans for Biden for their inaugural community forum at the Beaverdale VFW Hall in Des Moines. The campaign also announced upcoming forums in Fort Dodge, Burlington, Mason City, Sioux City and Waterloo.

“I am honored to have the support of these men and women who have so nobly served our country,” said Biden. “Together, we will ensure that veterans’ voices are heard in the living rooms of voters here in Iowa and across the country.”

The Iowa Veterans for Biden committee is comprised of veterans who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea, the Cold War and World War II, Iowa state representatives and family members of fallen servicemen.

“I’m honored to serve on Senator Biden’s advisory board,” said Jeremy Reynolds of Grundy Center, an Iraq War Veteran and Regional Chair of Iowa Veterans for Biden. “Over the course of his career, he has been an outstanding voice for servicemen and women in the field and the veterans that return home. This tour will give us a chance to discuss with Iowans the issues that affect them and their families and gives us a chance to listen to their concerns and bring them to our next commander-in-chief.”

The series of forums will address America’s shared responsibility in caring for our men and women in uniform including a true reform of the Veterans Administration system, providing necessary armor and vehicles to troops in the field, Sen. Biden’s plan for Iraq and the importance of garner bi-partisan support in bring this war to a conclusion.

Sen. Biden recently unveiled his plan to keep America’s promise to veterans by reforming the Veterans Administration and making it more responsive to the needs of our veterans once they return home from the battlefield as well as our veterans who have already performed their service.

“Our commitment to those who have admirably served our country must be without question,” said Senator Biden. “Just as we must protect them and give them everything they need on the battlefield, we owe our brave soldiers the same support upon their return home. This is our sacred obligation.”

Sen. Biden believes that all veterans must have access to health care and that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a fundamental responsibility to address their varying care needs in a timely manner. His five-point plan for VA reform aims to improve the handling of claims, eliminate restrictions on veterans’ access to health care, accommodate the long-term care needs of veterans, ensure adequate treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and improve the provision of care to all veterans.

Sen. Biden’s proposal for VA reform is attached. Details on upcoming community forums throughout Iowa are forthcoming and will also be available at

IOWA VETERANS FOR BIDEN REGIONAL CHAIRS NameJohn Whitaker ServiceState Representative, Father of Iraq Veteran CityHillsboro
McKinley Bailey State Representative, Iraq and Afghanistan Veteran Webster City
Dick Taylor State Representative, Korean War Veteran, Navy Cedar Rapids
Chris Frosheiser Son was killed in Iraq by and IED Altoona
Randy Flaherty Cold War Veteran, Navy Mason City
Jeremy Reynolds Iraq War Veteran, Iowa National Guard Grundy Center
Cal Halliburton Vietnam War Veteran, Army Ames
Michael Trenary Iraq War Veteran, Iowa National Guard Fort Dodge
Fred Hunter Korean War Veteran, Navy Des Moines
Eugene Menke WWII Veteran, Navy Burlington
John Stromberg Korean War Veteran, Air Force Davenport
Emil Burke WWII Veteran, Army Air Corps Grinnell
Tim Nash Father of Iraq War Veteran Marion
Jose Cortez Iraq War Veteran, Iowa National Guard Council Bluffs
James Timmer WWII Veteran, Marine Corps Clinton


Monday, December 11th – Fort Dodge
Thursday, December 14th – Mason City
Tuesday, December 18th – Burlington
Thursday, December 20th – Sioux City
Friday, December 28th – Waterloo


Kristin Bird says:

PR responds

This article illuminates the true communication gap between media professionals and the actual media. I work in PR — and I admit I took the time and energy to not only google “How to stop PR people”, but to read and comment on this article. I agree that most PR people are stupid, but not because they are in PR. They are stupid because most people are stupid.

Additionally, most PR people get their names from media services databases, and are therefore ignorant of individual policies. They send follow-up emails because they are professionals and that is the way to build a relationship; they are not really “wondering” if you got the first one. And if you don’t run their releases — so what? 99.9% of releases don’t get run. Sending them isn’t hard and neither is hitting delete. I often see “no phone calls”, but email is a black hole. Yes, we are irritating, but there’s no other way to get the job done. I also always wonder if the “no releases” policy is blanket — when I call businesses who have stated they do not wish to be pitched, what am I asked to do? “Send a release.”

I think the biggest crime we PR folks are guilty of is misdirected pitches (and while bulk email is efficient, I would never do such a thing.) I agree with the previous poster who claims that quantity over quality is the mark of a bad PR firm.

Honestly, I can’t begin to fathom the amount of spam a legitimate freelancer gets, but I also think a simple, “This is not something we are interested in” reply goes a long way toward being civil and breaking the cycle.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...