Public relations fail: A lesson and a rant

Summary:I try to be supportive of the public relations industry. I spotlight wins.

I try to be supportive of the public relations industry. I spotlight wins. I publicly thank people for their good ideas. I do research reports to help clients, bloggers and agencies better communicate and understand each other. All of that said, I have very little tolerance for basic violations of "PR 101" best practices. This morning's violation? I'll explain in three parts:

  1. Mass email
  2. Unapproved inclusion on an email list
  3. Lack of BCC on said mass email

Who does this? Beth Brody of Brody PR and Michelle Brusyo of Digital Brand Expressions did this today. The dynamic duo created an email list of, I'm guessing, at least 100 social media influencers to promote some social media book. What book? I am not going to tell you because I don't want to give this book any publicity. But I will say to the author(s): Find new representation.

This PR flop resulted in countless "reply all" emails to the list, and many requests for removal. I heard from a few friends who were subjected to the list that they'd requested removal hours earlier but were still getting spammed. Granted, replying all is a sin in and of itself. I eventually did so only to ask people to shut up and focus their requests to the original sender, which was done in a moment of outrage. Interestingly enough, very few of us read the actual pitch in the email -- so if they were trying to annoy us into submission that didn't work.

I'm sure some people will read this and think, "Why is she blogging about this?" Well, one, I'm annoyed. Hey, at least I am honest. And two, I think there is a lesson here. For those of us who have been good PR people -- or are good PR people -- it's seethe-worthy when we see the craft violated in such a way. Many bloggers and journalists believe that PR as an entity sucks but that is not true. There are a lot of amazing PR professionals out there who provide me with a wealth of ideas and support (hint: scroll over for some names). But actions like this make it near impossible for the media to take PR people seriously.

I personally have blocked pitches and emails from the above violators. I am not saying that you should blacklist them. Then again, no apology has yet to be received from either of them in the near four hours that the spam emails have been floating around.

If you're a PR person reading this, I highly suggest NOT pitching anyone in social media today.

Other takes on the issue from AdAge and SocialMedia.biz.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration

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