Curse of the Long Tail
October 30, 2007 3:41 PM   Subscribe

Sorry PR, you're blocked. Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine calls out the 300+ PR "professionals" who cannot be bothered to look for the right person to send their announcements to. Then, he publishes their e-mail addresses online, for all to see. If you were thinking of using a PR firm this year, here are 300 that you might want to give a miss. via
posted by parmanparman (49 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
personally, and as much as I hate spam, this guy is a bit of an idiot....

If he doesn't want to be contacted, don't make the e/mail public...
posted by HuronBob at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2007

Well, I don't know how newsworthy this is. I thought this comment from the blog was funny:

I do PR AND advertising buys and I can't get your Ad reps at WIRED to stop spamming me in the same exact manner!
posted by krinklyfig at 3:51 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I love it. This is totally appropriate, and lazy PR folks are getting their comeuppance.
posted by desjardins at 3:55 PM on October 30, 2007

This is great. I get 5 daily spams from those fucktards and I have to request removal by hand from all of them individually. I see several mentions of on there -- two separate people spam me with crap press releases all the time. I also see that used to spam me constantly.

Anyone with a high profile blog or site gets these dorks sending you pointless press releases you didn't ask for. I suspect they've created their own rolodex by just trolling the technorati 100 and pass that around to everyone because I bet my PR blast list would be just as long as Chris'.

It's like spam, but worse in a way, because you know a human was behind it and could have not sent it, instead of just being scattershot and bot-driven like normal spam.
posted by mathowie at 3:57 PM on October 30, 2007

HuronBob: His email address will still be available through professional services like Cision.

I've been a publicist for many years. Anderson's getting spammed by *blind* pitches, by publicists too lazy to do their homework and narrow down their contact lists. PR people should never send blind pitches to a magazine's editor-in-chief. They should take the time to figure out who an appropriate contact is and build a relationship with them. At a magazine like Wired, the managing editor is the appropriate contact if you can't figure out where your story should go. Is he being childish? Yes. But he's only responding in kind to the way he's been treated.

Blind pitches are a fact of life in the PR industry. So, smart publicists bypass the inevitable annoyance that arises from making them by tailoring their email to each recipient or their publication. Even a single sentence explaining why someone's readers might be interested in the news you're pitching can go a long way toward starting a dialogue. If you want ink, you should work for it.

The key to success in this industry is to "Build Relationships, Not Lists." It was nice to see someone saying that in the comments. I've had that phrase posted above my desk as a reminder for years.
posted by zarq at 3:59 PM on October 30, 2007 [8 favorites]

Mathowie, out of curiosity, are you also pitched by PR folks who take the time to engage you personally and appropriately?

I have no interest in doing so... just wondering if your experience has been 100% negative.
posted by zarq at 4:01 PM on October 30, 2007

The comments on that blog sound like a bunch of whiney jerks. Next on the list: cold calls from cut-rate web hosts and firms in India wanting to "partner" with me.
posted by maxwelton at 4:03 PM on October 30, 2007

I think this is great too. Poetic justice.
posted by grouse at 4:05 PM on October 30, 2007

Mathowie, out of curiosity, are you also pitched by PR folks who take the time to engage you personally and appropriately?

I think I used to be, several years ago, and I was glad to get those emails because they were from really smart people that read my site and knew what I was into.

At some point, maybe a year or two ago, they turned into blind pitches that resembled spam. The message went from "here's a cool piece of tech you might like" to "LUZR RELEASES NEW WINDOWS EXCHANGE SERVER CANDIDATE PLUGIN PLEASE POST TO METAFILTER IMMEDIATELY" and there's a 500kb pdf and a .vcf card attached and it's clear they sent it to 500 people indiscriminately.
posted by mathowie at 4:08 PM on October 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

Anderson has a follow-up blog post here.
posted by zarq at 4:08 PM on October 30, 2007

He uses Outlook. Awesome.
posted by 3.2.3 at 4:08 PM on October 30, 2007 [4 favorites]

I just now got a press release about Ms. Magazine's 35th anniversary which is ON SALE NOW and to show you how thoughtful the pitch was, it was addressed to "Dear culture kitchen bloggers..."

She basically spammed every major blog she could find and forgot to change the Dear line to MetaFilter.
posted by mathowie at 4:25 PM on October 30, 2007

posted by ColdChef at 4:27 PM on October 30, 2007

At some point, maybe a year or two ago, they turned into blind pitches that resembled spam.

Dammit. For what it's worth, I'm sorry. Idiots who behave that way give my whole industry a bad name and make my job a hell of a lot harder.

Respect should be a two-way street. I'd rather lose a placement than act like an ass.
posted by zarq at 4:30 PM on October 30, 2007

Last year, I blogged about the World Cup for a local daily. The PR spam came fast and furious. And then Italy won the Cup was handed out... and I was STILL getting PR spam a week later.

As a city/neighborhood blogger, though, I get a lot less of this. However, I've found that the sort of people who blind pitch city blogs are the sort who would blind pitch a fire hydrant.
posted by dw at 4:49 PM on October 30, 2007

This kind of press release spamming makes me want to cry. It's counter productive and lazy PR. In fact it isn’t even PR.

Distributing press releases should be the same process as buying advertising, you need to tailor your message AND your method to your target audience. If you don’t know what media your target audience consumes: fucking find out – or buy it from someone who knows.

Otherwise its like a long distance telephone company which saves money on infrastructure by routing calls through very powerful megaphones.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:52 PM on October 30, 2007

or what zarq said.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 4:54 PM on October 30, 2007

I always get press releases in unusual English from China via my blog and I've never worked out why.
posted by gomichild at 4:57 PM on October 30, 2007

Maybe - just maybe - there may be a non-lazy, well intentioned, PR person's email address in there somewhere.
posted by fire&wings at 5:13 PM on October 30, 2007

Must ... add ... those emails ... to mass email list ...

naked email address lists like that are my pr0n

But seriously tho, doesn't Anderson have an intern who could spend 10 minutes to unsubscribe to these lists? Seems like a drama queen move to post them like that.

Although it does send a glisk of justice up my spine. Way to go, tech-guy.
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 5:18 PM on October 30, 2007

"culture kitchen bloggers"

Tells you just how highly she thinks of you and of MeFi, doesn't it? If she doesn't give a damn, why should you?

Even if we give her the benefit if the doubt and assume she just made a dumb mistake, she still fails. It takes NO effort to proof emails and it's especially easy to proof mass batch-mails. Sheer laziness on her part.

Did you send her this FPP link in response? Would serve her right. :)
posted by zarq at 5:26 PM on October 30, 2007

That list was pointless without mailto:
posted by meehawl at 5:29 PM on October 30, 2007

Although it does send a glisk of justice up my spine. Way to go, tech-guy."

Glisk is my new favorite word. Thank you kind sir.
posted by aerotive at 5:30 PM on October 30, 2007

I cheer deep within my heart for this.
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on October 30, 2007

HuronBob: "If he doesn't want to be contacted, don't make the e/mail public..."

Anderson explained on that page why his email address is public. He wants people who take the time to learn his interests to be able to reach him. I think that's what email's really supposed to do. I personally have no interest in viagra. I don't need it. I also don't need help getting a date. However, for some reason there are spammers every day who think I do.

I also don't need to get involved with an international espionage ring that deals with several millions of dollars. If someone just wants to give me millions of dollars without any strings attached, I'll take it in small unmarked bills in my mailbox whose address I'm sure anyone who really wants to find out could probably find online with little difficulty. They don't need to fill my inbox to send me money. So I ban them and alert my email provider.

Anderson is talking about PR people who are supposed to reach his subordinates, but is too lazy to do their jobs properly. He's right to call them on the carpet. That's HIS job. Before the days of email, this would be like PR people coming to his office and berating his secretary with a meeting time because they'd wanna talk to him, when they should have called the people who work for him instead and schedule meetings with them. In the old days he woulda had a security guy that works for him kick these PR people to the curb.

Anderson's just modernizing a tradition that's generations old, and I for one applaud him for it. He should do this on a regular basis until the PR industry gets a clue.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:47 PM on October 30, 2007

We (and by "we" I mean "Mathowie") should use the PR spam as a tool for blocking spammy FPPs. I'm figuring here that the PRbots will succeed, sometimes, in getting some chucklehead to post spam to MeFi. If there were a recognition system that compared n00b FPPs to the past month's PR releases, one might eliminate a good bit of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:48 PM on October 30, 2007

In case you missed it, the Bad Pitch Blog linked in the comments of Anderson's 2nd post is kinda interesting.
posted by mediareport at 5:58 PM on October 30, 2007

Surely a more creative form of revenge is possible here. Posting their email addresses seems kind of boring when compared to this or this.
posted by scottreynen at 6:00 PM on October 30, 2007

ScottReyNen: "Surely a more creative form of revenge is possible here..."

I don't think this was intended for revenge.

1) He was entertaining and enlightening, and he wanted copy. This was something to throw at his blog that those reading his blog would find either amusing (if they're in his line of work) or educational (if they're in the line of work he's talking about aka 'on the list'). And yes, the smart ones on his list are reading that blog and they've gotten the message. The not so smart ones...?

2) He's trying to make a point without doing anything that's particularly damaging, and from now on whenever someone who he'd like to hear from does this or something similar, he can diss them by referring them to this link and insinuate "you're this close to being on this list. Listen to how I want you to behave with regards to my office, or I end this communication now."

Make note that he's made it very clear you can't get off this list. Again, that's a bartering tool. He can opt to edit that list at his leisure. He's saying "if you still wanna talk to me, use a different email address and try the tactic I made plain as day. Learn about me and find out what interests me, or talk to my subordinates - with a different email address."

This is not revenge. This is leverage. He's playing their game, but with his own rules. I think this is very smart.

Revenge will be for all the people on that list who don't get the message. We probably won't hear about what happens to them, cuz it won't make good copy: at least not for Anderson.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:18 PM on October 30, 2007

By the way, anyone know anything about Cloudmark Desktop? Is it as good as Anderson suggests? I don't use Microsoft Outlook for a number of reasons but predominant among them is spam. Using a web client (with a built in antivirus scanner & a defaulted no toggle on images) minimizes the damage more 'spirited' spammers might cause either purposefully or accidently. I don't know how to configure Outlook to behave more like Yahoo mail, so I don't use it. Does Cloudmark Desktop make the grade?
posted by ZachsMind at 6:25 PM on October 30, 2007

Idiots who behave that way give my whole industry a bad name

Edward Bernays and his ilk gave your industry a deeply etched bad name decades ago. These guys are just really irritating and lazy.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:28 PM on October 30, 2007

Is this 'spam' something you'd have to not use Gmail to know about?
posted by signal at 7:41 PM on October 30, 2007

1. Discover the name of competitor's PR agency.
2. Forge email to WIRED from their addresses.
3. ???
posted by hattifattener at 7:56 PM on October 30, 2007

I write for pretty much the biggest PR publication out there and I think I actually know some of the people on the list. This is funny.
posted by tiger yang at 8:32 PM on October 30, 2007

She basically spammed every major blog she could find and forgot to change the Dear line to MetaFilter.

And it TOTALLY WORKED. Man, I wouldn't have known about this special Ms. issue if it wasn't for you, Matt. Thanks!
posted by graventy at 8:51 PM on October 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

I love the complaint by "Dan" in the comments - one of the people who's address is on the list.

"...But your email address was on a list that I paid thousands of dollars for! And I provided an UNSUBSCRIBE link! How dare you call me a spammer!"
posted by Jimbob at 9:04 PM on October 30, 2007

I wonder about this esteemed group's opinion on the nefariousness of "hot stock tip" spam vs. PR spam. You know, the promise that a $0.15 stock will hit a $7.20 target within 30 days.

Not being involved with PR, I just don't get that spam. But, as a stock investor, I must get 50 - 100 "buy right now!" tips a day.

Publishing the sender's e-mail address won't work because they're obviously fakes. Is there really a Looking at the expanded e-mail header, you can see that the stuff is coming out of China and most other countries of the world. To compound the problem, I may get up to seven identical e-mail messages from ostensibly different senders within ten minutes.

I do sympathize with you PR spam receivers. I wonder, however, if it's any different in virulence from stock-tip spam.
posted by PlanoTX at 9:24 PM on October 30, 2007

Nothing but telemarketer cold-calls, quicker to send, quicker to delete, but the same old-fashioned annoyance nonetheless.

Spam, whether it be from the telephone, pitching pills, greed-baiting scams, or simply legitimate business done poorly, exists only because someone falls for it, somewhere, sometime.

The solution to spam? Find everyone who has ever purchased services/goods from spam-style communications, and beat them with a baseball bat.
posted by Saydur at 10:36 PM on October 30, 2007

I've often wondered how Hormel feels about the term "spam" being used to describe unwanted correspondence.
posted by Dead Man at 2:44 AM on October 31, 2007

Apparently, Hormel are resigned to the fact that they aren't going to be able to do anything about it, and have instead opted for insisting people capitalise SPAM when referring to email, and suggesting people use the term "unsolicited commercial email" instead.
posted by Jimbob at 2:55 AM on October 31, 2007

Jimbob: surely you mean capitalised when referring to the food?
posted by edd at 5:47 AM on October 31, 2007

The thing which I absolutely am loving about that thread are the replies from those who are actually on this list.

Imagine this: you work in PR. Your job is to, essentially, manage media relations and publicity, no? Suddenly, a bad story hits — the editor-in-chief of Wired has published on the Web your e-mail address, stating that you spam him with inappropriate releases.

So what do you do to turn this into good PR and a good story for your agency? What action at this point will reflect best on, and enhance, your professionalism, conduct, and reputation amongst this high-Google PageRank crowd and the editor-in-chief of one of the most influential tech publications in the world?

Why, of course, the action is clear as day!

This is what you do: you go to the comment section of the post and whine and complain about how it's your inherent right to send these messages and how you spent good money for this editor's e-mail address from the guy who gave you a CD full of really good e-mail addresses and how he should expect it as part of his job and how you need not find the correct target within an organization for your e-mail because, of course, that's one of the most essential duties of an editor-in-chief's job, to route e-mail messages within his magazine appropriately, and ...

Yes. People who hire these people to manage their publicity have certainly hired adroitly skilled publicists who have a firm handle on how to manage buzz in the Internet age.


Now, if they were truly tech-savvy, here's what they'd do:

I'm Joseph Throckbottom; I'm the chief executive officer of Sprockets, Inc. I wanted to stop by your comment section here to apologize for the actions of my company in spamming you. I spoke with Alan Bottomthrock, our Chief Marketing Officer, regarding how this event took place. He advised me that your e-mail address was purchased as a list from a company who represented to us that the recipients were willing to receive press releases. I've e-mailed you the contact information we have for this company privately; we may pursue legal action against them for misrepresentation and fraud, and please let us know if you wish us to be of any assistance if you choose to pursue legal action against them yourself.

As this action pertains to us, this event has made it clear that we need to re-examine our company's strategies towards dissemination of publicity and marketing information on the Internet. I want you to know I've directed our marketing department to put a full halt on all e-mails of press releases until such time as we can verify that these are being sent to appropriate people within each organization that desire the information.

Once again, Sprockets, Inc. wishes to apologize to you for the difficulties you've encountered in this matter.


Joseph F. Throckbottom
Sprockets, Inc.
posted by WCityMike at 8:40 AM on October 31, 2007 [3 favorites]

Where is a End Well when you need it...
posted by Duncan at 10:47 AM on October 31, 2007

Depending on who's mailing you, hitting unsubscribe can set you up for getting more mail, because you've just verified that you're reading spam.

Oh, hey, someone verified that experimentally.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:25 AM on October 31, 2007

On Tom Coates's post: blogger discovers editorial neutrality- stop the fucking presses.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 11:41 AM on October 31, 2007

WCityMike, Someone did respond with an apology. However, he also made some good points:

From a comment:
Chris, I apologize on behalf of my firm that this time we were off the mark. Unfortunately, one of my employees is on this list. My heart dropped when I saw it, of course. But just as I’m sure you have made mistakes in your career, so too, do PR executives. That being said, I do not think that was the case in regard to my employee who most certainly does not fall into the category of, “Lazy flacks [who] 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.”

Our executive indeed tried a few different reporters at Wired (three, not thousands) with a very tailored pitch based on a former article that appeared in Wired on a related topic to our pitch, and we referenced that article. In the past, you’ve actually been kind enough to say, “I’m not interested, but you might try my colleague so-and-so.” And therefore, our executive asked, at the end of this pitch, that if you weren’t interested in the angle, might you suggest a colleague who would be.

So the rules of engagement have obviously changed – and that’s fine – but this exchange was not generic, not spam and not from that of a lazy PR executive. She did her homework, she found related materials by Wired and she based her approach to you on pleasant, similar exchanges with you in the past.

Your publishing of this list incites hatred against an entire group of people – just look at those comments - lumping all PR professionals into one demonized entity whom you present as awful, stupid, lazy, clueless and so on. How would you feel if you and your colleagues were lumped in with the Jayson Blairs of the journalist world?

We, too, are “actual people” – hard working, talented individuals with families to support and mortgages to pay. If you don’t respect our chosen profession, that’s fine, but don’t lead the torch-wielding villagers against all of us. We’re really not deserving of it.

posted by zarq at 12:40 PM on October 31, 2007 [2 favorites]

Edward Bernays and his ilk gave your industry a deeply etched bad name decades ago. These guys are just really irritating and lazy.

Yes, but I doubt most journalists know who Bernays was. His closest modern analogue would be firms with shady business practices, like Hill & Knowlton or Burson-Marsteller.

The current negative impression journalists have of publicists is most likely to be founded on (and perpetuated by) the actions of those idiots who refuse to do their jobs properly as well as the firms who refuse to follow ethical guidelines. It's not as if those guidelines are new, either. They're based on Ivy Ledbetter Lee's Declaration of Principles, written in 1906!
posted by zarq at 1:12 PM on October 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

What I love are the folk in the comments talking about how childish and unfair it is to have posted that list of emails. Which says to me that they didn't read through that list - which seems to be many that don't go to individuals (admin@, connect@, newsletter@) - you can be sure that these addresses are already on tons of spam lists. The other addresses that appear to be individuals - well, it sounds as though their companies could use a little google shake up to make them aware that the tactics don't work.
posted by batgrlHG at 4:32 PM on October 31, 2007

« Older Guardian columnist Dina Rabinovitch dies   |   Vodka "Pills"? Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments