PR flacks and the new media: a cautionary, not-so-long tale

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief at Wired and author of The Long Tail (and the blog of the same title), has issued a strong rebuke for PR types who send indiscriminate email in hopes of gaining some media attention.

They’ve gotten Anderson’s attention. Now he’s blocking them.

“I get more than 300 emails a day,” he writes in a recent blog post, “and my problem isn’t spam (Cloudmark Desktop solves that nicely), it’s PR people.”

Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching. Fact: I am an actual person, not a team assigned to read press releases and distribute them to the right editors and writers (that’s

So fair warning: I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that (I love those emails; indeed, that’s why my email address is public).

Everything else gets banned on first abuse.

Anderson’s post underscores the importance of knowing which story ideas to pitch to which journalists, the importance for PR folks to research the interests of the journalists they’re trying to reach, and the importance of knowing the rules for submitting ideas to certain media outlets. (Obviously, if you think you’ve got a story that Wired would pick up, the editor-in-chief is not the person to email.) PR blogger Jeremy Pepper saw Anderson’s post as a teachable moment and created a nice slide show to help his fellow flacks better understand the nature of social media.

But there’s a sideshow to this cautionary tale that has my mind spinning. In his post, Anderson also listed the email addresses of all the PR folks who are now blocked. That list resulted in some bizarre unintended consequences, as described in his Nov. 1 post. Some PR companies used the opportunity to email clients of people on the list to try to get them to switch firms. It’s turned into an all-out catfight between a couple of PR shops.

Whew! Makes me glad that I’ve got a gig in higher ed.

Now playing: Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Something’s Changed
via FoxyTunes


Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

3 thoughts on “PR flacks and the new media: a cautionary, not-so-long tale”

  1. From . Mr Dave Benton.

    Kindest Attention

    My name is Mr.Dave Benton, I am from belgium . I have been diagnosed with Esophageal cancer. It has defiled all forms of medical treatment, and right now I have only about a few months to live,according to medical experts. I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself)but my business.

    Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only ! focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for.But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it.

    Now that God has called me, I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as few close friends .I want God to be merciful to me and acceptm my soul so, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have Distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, Somalia and Malaysia.

    Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself anymore. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and distribute the money which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria! and Pakistan, they refused and kept the money to themselves.

    Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them.

    The last of my money which no one knows of is the huge cash deposit of Thirty five Million United States Dollars($35,000,000,00) that I have with an Asset Management Company Abroad. I will want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatch it to charity organizations.

    N/B:Kindly note that 30% of this funds must go to the tsunami victims,10% will go to Hurricane Katrina Victims, 50% to other Charity Organization and 10% for your effort and time.

    I cannot talk with you on the phone due to my health situation, as I am using my Lap Top Computer to communicate with you. You should respond to this e-mail if you are interested in carrying out this assignment on my behalf .

    God be with you.
    Mr. Dave Benton

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