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PR via e-mail: the worst that can happen

More on how PR can learn from e-mail marketing best practice

Mark Brownlow’s excellent E-Mail Marketing Reports blog has a great post today called “E-Mail Marketing: the worst that can happen”.

Given my recent post about what PR can learn from e-mail marketing best practice, I thought Mark’s post was very timely. It is well worth reading the whole post – and if you simply replace the words “e-mail marketing” with PR, the same principles apply.

With respect to Mark’s original post, here are the “PR via e-mail” versions of his main points:

Email marketers (PRs) often complain that their colleagues or superiors (account directors or clients) want them to do unhealthy things with their (press) list, to squeeze yet more dollars, downloads, pageviews, or whatever (press event  or press coverage) out of subscribers (journalists).

Examples might be sending more and more email (press releases) with the same old tired offers (stories or pitches). Or sending email to a “borrowed” list of attendees at a trade show (or getting a press list from PR Newswire).

A key reason is that the perceived cost of doing anything with email marketing (PR via e-mail) is low. Not the low cost of sending emails (press release or pitches), but the perceived low cost of doing it badly.

He makes a great point when he says: “My home is my inbox. The inbox is not like a TV set or car radio or magazine or billboard or website or even your mailbox. It is a private place. We care what goes in there. But people don’t just ignore or delete “bad” emails. They resent them. A brand pays a price for not delivering value-by-email and annoying the subscriber. Survey after survey shows that subscribers will report email as spam if they are unwanted, come too often, are not relevant enough or come unsolicited. Does this matter? Yes. Spam complaints are a major factor in determining the reputation of the sender. The more complaints you get, the worse your reputation, the less likely you are to get delivered.”

If PR is about reputation management then PR firms need think about how the potential (mis)use of e-mail can impact their own – and more importantly – their client’s reputation to the media. The very thing they are being paid to do.

2 replies on “PR via e-mail: the worst that can happen”

Gracious me, it sounds like my complaint of the other day (which was more general but had PR emails at the back of my mind). Email is so seriously broken that nothing short of everyone hiding their addresses is going to fix it.

I do get a “quarantine report” each day of would-be spam that’s blocked at the gate. Sometimes there’s PR stuff in there. If it tweaks my interest, I let it through. Often I don’t, though. I think I could enjoy a world where I whitelist some addresses, and the rest has to clamour at the gates. Think moats and drawbridges rather than ..whatever the metaphor is for email at present.

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