PR People: Thoughts on my polite but firm anti-spam letter

So here's my dilemma: I want to encourage communications professionals to tell me what's going on but I also want to encourage them to think about who it is they are sending their stuff, too. I try hard not be rude to PR types because, even though I might be bored and impatient with today's pitch, the pitch or inside info they have for me tomorrow might one that gets me on a front page somewhere.

Recently, though, I've been getting a lot of unsolicited, inappropriate PR bumpf from American PR firms whose message is clearly targeted to a U.S. domestic audience. Here's the text of the e-mail I'm using to reply:

I’m a reporter based in Ottawa, Canada covering Canadian federal politics. If you’ve got something that you think would interest readers/viewers in Canada, please let me know.

This ain’t it, though.

I put a lot of thought into the stories I write that are read by millions of Canadians and I prefer PR professionals who approach their job as seriously as I approach mine. Here in Canada, most PR firms take the time to know what I write about it before adding me to their e-mail lists. Stuffing this in my inbox doesn’t reflect well on your firm. It is evidence of thoughtlessness.

And while it’s easy enough to hit the delete key on your messages or set up a junk mail filter, there’s a good chance that you will one day have a client or message that is important to my readers. And I want to be sure when that day happens, you’ll tell me about it.  Until then, though, ease up a bit ..

See blog/twitter/facebook, etc. for more info about my beat and assignments: (Full co-ords in sig file) Look forward to hearing from you when you know a little bit more about me and my readers.

What do you think? Am I too saucy? I'm want to be firm — no more spam — but I want to leave the door open for a future relationship. Suggestions?

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5 thoughts on “PR People: Thoughts on my polite but firm anti-spam letter”

  1. I feel your pain David. I run a Canadian Music site and I get flooded. One of the golden rules of PR/Marketing/Promotions is, or should be, know who you are sending things to. Research the publication and, as much as possible, specific writers. Know who you are targeting and why.
    Sadly far too many don't – they just collect email address' and send out floods of email to as many people as possible without worrying about the annoyance factor or who they are sending it to.
    Others send stuff that might be of interest but there is no follow up. If I respond and ask for more info, photos etc., there is no reply.
    It's sad for the people the are representing as their pr people are doing nothing for them at all.
    I think your email is very diplomatic.

  2. I would remove the sentence about thoughtlessness. You make your point well enough without it and that line could be misconstrued.

  3. Well put David. And I appreciate that you've focussed on a bad practice, not made this a rant against all PR. (All too many others have chosen that easy, low road.) Of course, I've come to expect no less from you. Still one of my favourite Ottawa Press Gallery reads.

  4. Spray and pray is a bad practice for any organization. Most people don't realize that if you don't take the time to target, to understand the slices of the demographics you are going after, and to tailor your message to the slice you want, your PR will never succeed because people will tune you out, think of you as spammers and put your stuff in spam filters. David doesn't need to apologize. Treating the “spray and pray” crew as spammers is a perfectly appropriate response.

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