As a journalist I get a lot of Press Releases bunging up my in-tray. To be fair my email address has found its way onto quite a few databases over the years - despite the steps I've taken to try and avoid this.
I often get the feeling that PR execs sit at their desks and pump out releases totally focussed on THEIR CLIENT and completely forgetting the people they are sending them to. It's not dissimilar to a company churning out its products and not giving thought to what their customers really want. Companies that get too self-obsessed like this usually go to the wall (unless they are Banks or large US automobile concerns and then they get bailed out - which is in my opinion pretty criminal.) Just look at the hole GM is in now.
I've been receiving almost daily releases from a company called Top Position. What's interesting is that the company has its foundation in Search Engine Optimisation. The releases actually come from the 'SEO department'. They are stuffed full of hyperlinks to their client's website. They are ALWAYS MARKED URGENT. Yesterday I got one that started: I rang newsdesk and was asked to send this over to
1) I HATE being sent emails with the High Importance marker on them if they aren't.Who are you to judge if it's urgent? I emailed the sender and asked to be taken off their mailing list. Even her reply was marked High Importance. I mean how VAIN!
2) SEO experts maybe - but PR experts too? Well if they were they wouldn't draw such attention to the fact that they are pumping out their releases for SEO purposes by marking them from the SEO dept. Presumably this also means they are only interested in on-line media outlets.
3) PR isn't just about hiring a bunch of 'journalists' (their word not mine) and buying a few lists of media outlets - and hey presto pumping out releases. Despite my inherent dislike of PR I accept that those agencies that are experts in their field can do a good job. But they take time to understand the editors and writers they are communicating with and try to offer stories and ideas that will not just benefit their client, but also work for the media outlet they are approaching. And to do this well you almost need to craft a different idea for each individual newspaper, magazine or website.
4) The email starting 'I rang newsdesk and was asked to send this over to you...' is completely dishonest. And to send this kind of email to all and sundry regardless of whether you have had prior contact is fraud. Maybe I should contact the Direct Marketing Assocation or the ASA?
5) Despite several emails and a phone call (during which I was assured I would be taken off the email list) I am still receiving their emails.
What is Top Position trying to do? I'd suggest just keep a client paying their bills - as clearly the company doesn't give the slightest bit of care and thought to the media outlets they are bombarding.
And if that's PR in the 21st century, can you see why journalists like me are beginning to hate it.
(I thought long and hard about linking to the Top Position website. Last thing I want to do is give them a nice link from here, but in the spirit of openness in blogging I decided I would. I plan to leave it there for a week and then disable it.)