If you can’t target, don’t spam your releases

One of the many things I’ve advocated in practicing and teaching media relations has been the value of targeting rather than adopting a spam approach to mass mailing emails. 

The argument back from many PR practitioners has been that they are too busy to ensure their information is relevant to journalists, let alone adapting it to appeal to a particular publication and its actual readership.

In fact, I remember one student complaining about a fail grade for a press release assignment that it was the job of the journalist to find the story within the mass of poorly written material she had “crafted”.  Indeed, her boss agreed with her and so she should get a pass mark.

No wonder then that has responded to receiving hundreds of unsolicited, poorly targeted “releases” by blocking the email addresses of hundreds of PR practitioners as an example to us all.  There is increased recognition that this strategy is Public Relations Spam – which I’ve argued previously comes from a direct mail approach viewing the press release as a way of generating easy advertising.

Using off the shelf lists of “media” contacts – which increasingly include bloggers – is lazy public relations. 

We discussed this at a press release writing workshop for last Friday.  My view is that the junk mail approach of including as many contacts as you can in your email list is wrong.  Even if it returns a success rate of 3% (which isn’t even proven), that’s 97 journalists in every 100 that are hacked off by you. 

The attendees seemed to agree, with some even sharing examples of where journalists had complained to them of poor targeting. 

It goes beyond the harm to individual reputations.  Journalists are becoming increasingly  frustrated by PR practitioners in general and it becomes harder for those who are good at their job to cut through the rubbish.

I don’t care how busy you are as a PR practitioner, there is no excuse for junk mailing press releases.  Do you really want to be no better than those who spam email you with amazing offers for blue pills or dodgy deals?

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.