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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.

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  1. identicon
    Amy Gahran, 20 Sep 2006 @ 1:38pm

    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

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