You Grumpy Old Blogger!

17 October 2007

Is it me, or is all this social media making me grumpy?

Today I’ve had someone who sent me a message on Facebook in order to try and sell their creative design services as well as a researcher from one of the UK media databases wanting to list me as a blogger in their database so that PRs can spam me.

In these two instances, I think I have a good case for being grumpy. Firstly, it’s against Facebook’s Terms of Use to use the platform for unauthorised advertising. Secondly, I’d rather someone read my blog before spamming me (and notice that I actually work for one of the biggest PR firms in the world) rather than just get my details from a database.

I think it’s going to take an industry-wide effort to stamp out bad practice in blogger relations, rather than a single vendor adding bloggers to their databases. I’m waiting to hear what they intend to do to any of their customers who ignore bloggers’ preferences. I’d bet they won’t get their accounts cancelled.

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8 Responses to “You Grumpy Old Blogger!”

  1. Stuart Bruce

    Niall, you are being a bit grumpy. I got the email from the UK media database and to be fair to them they’ve got it pretty right. You can reply and say you don’t want to be in and if you do say what you’re interested in. Compare that to one of the big US media database companies who just included me (and hundreds of others including Tom Coates of plasticbag). They didn’t bother to ask and have my information totally wrong (they think I’m based in the US and write about Federal government). As a result I (and all the others) get hundreds of spam emails from lazy (or stupid) PRs who just use the database and don’t do their homework. You see I’m grumpy too now.

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  3. Niall Cook

    There you go, Stuart. See how easy it is. I agree that they’re at least being considerate in their approach, which they should be applauded for.

    That said, I don’t really see what value there is in being listed in a proprietary database with a restricted reach, and no sanctions for non-compliance. I’d much rather see a publicly accessible system (non-profit even) with the backing of some of the big PR agencies, where bloggers can manage their preferences on an ongoing basis (and maybe even display a widget on their blog), and where there are clear penalties for those PRs who choose to ignore those preferences.

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  6. Daryl Willcox

    Firstly, sorry for coming to this conversation so late.

    Anyway, you’ve raised some really good points here about blogs and media databases and it’s good to see the issue debated.

    There is a demand from our customers to include the top blogs in each sector, so that’s what we’re doing – but we’re doing it carefully so as to respect bloggers’ preferences.

    As for the what’s in it for to the individual blogger – well I think there is some value. PR professionals often point their clients in the direction of relevant blogs, therefore boosting audiences.

    I agree totally with your concerns about bad blogger relations, I’ve come across a couple of horrendous examples recently. But I guess just like there has always been bad media relations (something I know all to well as an ex-journalist) there will probably always be bad blogger relations too, sadly.

  7. Niall Cook

    Thanks for stopping by, Daryl. I don’t disagree with your rationale, but I think that as a media database provider you really have to consider your role in fuelling these bad practices.

    What’s driving the demand you mention, I wonder? My bet is that it’s because PRs (and more usually their clients) want to include the top bloggers on their press release lists. Time after time we have seen why firing off press releases at bloggers is the cause of these horrendous examples (it fact, it’s not relations at all, but spam).

    As far as most bloggers are concerned right now, there is no difference between PR people using media databases and spammers using email addresses harvested from the web. I think there is a job to be done to convince them otherwise.

  8. Daryl Willcox

    I honestly don’t believe we’re fuelling bad practice. In fact, I believe the opposite. By including considerable detail in our media database about each blogger’s preferences we are helping to educate PR professionals in how to engage with social media.

    We are finding that individual bloggers, just like individual traditional media outlets, work differently – and they prefer to be communicated with in different ways. Any blogger can say "no press releases please, ever" in his or her directory listing. FeaturesExec should help improve PR to blogger relations, not make it worse.

    However, I think there is probably even more we can do to educate our user community. I’m going to put some thought into that one.

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