I’ve started getting into the issue of PR Spam and I must say that I‘ve reached the point, when I just hate to call it this way, It is because I think that the term doesn’t really capture the nature of the issue.
Definitions of spam on the Web are very diverse yet similar:
- A common synonym for spam is unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE).
- Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately.
- A collection of unsolicited bulk electronic messages; Any undesired electronic content automatically-generated for commercial purposes
- Indiscriminately send unsolicited, unwanted, irrelevant, or inappropriate messages, especially commercial advertising in mass quantities.
- Unwanted, unsolicited email
So I am asking, what about the unwanted and irrelevant DMs on Twitter? The unnecessary and annoying phone calls and text messages? Other forms of information received without people requesting them? Based on the definitions of ‘spam’, the PR issue is not just PR Spam. It is more complex than that. In my opinion, the key aspects of what we call ‘PR Spam’ are:
- Inappropriate targeting => resulting in sending information in bulk
- Laziness to do the initial media campaign research => resulting in sending information in bulk
- Unrealistic expectation on PROs to meet crazy objective (i.e. every day coverage in the FTs) = causing high level of stress on the PRO to get some coverage => resulting in sending information in bulk
- Lack of appropriate education=>causing low practical PR skills=> resulting in sending information in bulk
- Expensive media training courses => little chance that a PRO will attend => resulting in sending information in bulk
I get it, journos and bloggers are angry because their email in-boxes are full of irrelevant information but they need to see the reality of being on the other side too. (I intend to cover this in my next blog post)
The campaign “An Inconvenient PR Truth” covers 10 demands on behalf of journalists and bloggers – “bill of rights:
- Right 1 – Permission required
- Right 2 – Timely unsubscribe
- Right 3 – Don’t rely on media lists exclusively
- Right 4 – Read publication first
- Right 5 – Categorise interests in detail
- Right 6 – Types of release
- Right 7 – Telephone chasing
- Right 8 – Succinct headlines
- Right 9 – Use clear format
- Right 10 – No attachments
Are these purely about finding ways how to stop PROs from spamming journalists and bloggers? I don’t think so. It seems like the problem is hidden much deeper – in the nature of the ‘PRO – Journalist’ relationship.
I have noticed that some people are trying to cash out on this hot issue and came up with training seminars, webinars, blogs, and who knows what else. Here is an offer to ‘attend’ a webinar on how to deal with the media, in particular how to pitch journalists in the new media world. It will cost you ‘only’ $99!!! Is this helping?
‘CIPR training, qualifications and seminars for PR& communication professionals’ booklet offers only two workshops on basic level on how to deal with the media.
- Selling-in your stories (£350 + VAT for CIPR members, £455 + VAT for non-members)
- Working with the media (£350 + VAT for CIPR members, £455 + VAT for non-members)
I am not entirely convinced that these two workshops are tailored to the needs of the journalists though.
So as I said above, the so called ‘PR Spam’ is more than that. PROs should think before they hit send. Do you all remember the definition of PR?
“Public Relations is the planned and sustained effort
to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual
understanding between an organisation and its publics.”