Junk email bad, targeted communications good

04 April 2007

This is the loud and clear message from Forrester’s Josh Bernoff in his latest blog post over at The Groundswell. Josh is peeved by the amount of ‘PR-type email’ that he receives.

To be fair, it’s not just analysts who don’t appreciate untargeted email – judging by one of my favourite blogs, The Bad Pitch Blog this is something that annoys people in PR, too, so perhaps it’s unfair to call it ‘PR-type email’; it’s simply bad practice.

I admit I don’t understand the logic of spamming people; OK I accept that true spam-merchants are looking for a miniscule conversion rate, which justifies their misdemeanours from an economic perspective, but surely if your goal is to engage with a sentient being, particularly one who you hope will become an advocate for you or your client, surely untargeted email can ONLY be counter-productive?

In fact, in the six years in which I’ve worked in AR I’ve seen quite a few time-saving ‘tricks’ that are actually counter-productive – for example questionnaires sent round to multiple analyst firms under the guise of an ‘analyst audit’ but which are really only an attempt to acquire ammunition for a new business pitch. True analyst audits are in-depth studies that require considerable investment in terms of time and money. Even then audits are not universally welcomed by analysts (I could post a couple of amusing emails on the subject, but that wouldn’t make me too popular) so a dozen or so self-serving questions that were knocked up in five minutes and lobbed round to a few analysts are unlikely to be well received.

The point I’m making is that if you want to influence people, be they analysts, consultants, academics or whoever, you need to make the investment required to engage with them over time. If you’re just looking for a knee-jerk reaction, then spam away!

One Response to “Junk email bad, targeted communications good”

  1. Josh Bernoff

    Thanks for noticing my post.

    You know, I am frustrated with irrelevant emails, but most AR and PR professionals are smart enough to take me off their lists when I request it.

    This is because most PR and nearly all AR professionals are actually smart about relationships.

    It’s just those few idiots that make life interesting . . . and if I can blow off steam and give people a laugh while doing it, that’s what I’ll do.

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