I receive a lot of press releases by email — and unlike past actions of deleting them, I have lately replied to my senders and asked simple questions to enlightening responses.
First up is an email I received last month from Markus.
We are regular readers of your blog and love your thoughts on marketing and branding. That’s why we wanted to inform you about a new study that will be released in the next days. The study covers 64 brands and is based on surveying more than 1,000 consumers in the US during the first quarter of 2010.
We hope you enjoy the report and please do not hesitate to get in touch in case of any further questions. Of course, also feel free to use any part of our report, in case you want to blog about the matter of social currency. If you want to give your readers access to the full report, please kindly link to our site that we have put up for the study: http://www.context-digital.com or refer directly to the report: http://tinyurl.com/2v7ejtq.
Are you a person or a press release?
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know what I write about. I don’t see that in your email. I also don’t see YOU in it. I see a mail merge with my name.
Markus was quick to reply back:
In fact I am a person and have stumbled over a blog entry of yours regarding the quantification of relationships. I thought our study might be of interest to you, since it discusses this actual value exchange and the benefit a brand user gets and this oftentimes is beyond control of companies. In fact in some areas people trust their peers more than the respective brand. And the current like-button-discussion just adds to it.
Would be glad if you found our study interesting.
It was interesting but I would have preferred a simple sentence or two as an introduction and to cultivate a relationship, not merely send me links and text up the wazoo and hope I did something.
Four days later, Steven emailed me a more formal press release. Here’s the beginning:
IFA, ShowStoppers extend successful collaboration
ShowStoppers to produce official press events of IFA 2010-2012
AUSTIN, TX., USA, and BERLIN, GERMANY, 27 Apr. 2010 – Hundreds of top journalists, analysts, bloggers and industry innovators will be able to preview new technology products for work, home and play for the next three years at ShowStoppers®, the official press event of IFA 2010, 2011 and 2012.
IFA and ShowStoppers today announced the three-year renewal of a dynamic partnership that began with ShowStoppers @ IFA 2008 in Berlin, Germany.
“Starting two years ago, IFA and ShowStoppers created a better way for industry leaders, innovators and startups to meet the press, on a global stage, and invented a new format in Germany that provides increased value for all exhibitors. ShowStoppers is the perfect display event to intensify business relationships, meet, network and conduct business with journalists, retailers and buyers,” said Jens Heithecker, executive director of IFA.
Need I go on with the quotations? Here’s my reply, in a similar style as what I wrote Markus:
Thank you for treating me as a thing and not a person, for it is apparent you are emailing me a press release and not a personal note. As such, and because I didn’t ask for it nor do you provide a means of unsubscribing, please remove me from your list.
I don’t know if my email address was removed, but Steven didn’t write back. That’s a shame; I’d like to read what he thought.
Third, meet Jason, who unlike the two earlier senders opted to not include my name in the salutation, but that’s not why I replied to him. Here’s what he wrote:
My name is Jason and I’m part of the Promotions Team here at http://www.csnstores.com . We have been seeking out high quality websites and blogs, gauging interest in doing a giveaway with one of our sites.
We love the look and feel of your blog and think that your US and Canadian readers might be interested in a giveaway with our sites ww.cookware.com, www.allchildrensfurniture.com, www.racksandstands.com or www.allbarstools.com .
Have a look at a couple of our sites and let me know if you think that this might be something you’d be interested in. Perhaps we could give away a selection of our home decor or kitchen accessories . I’d be happy to brainstorm some other ideas with you if you’re interested. Alternatively you could do a review of something from our site.
Please let me know if you have any questions for me. I hope to hear from you to further discuss the details of the giveaway.
I am a person.
Are you a person? Because, your below message looks like a press release. Are you a press release?
If you read my blog, you’d know the content does not relate to cookware and furniture. So, I repeat, are you a person or a cut and paste press release?
Jason liked that. He replied:
Thanks for getting back to me and I appreciate the candor with which you responded, it definitely made me laugh a bit! I am indeed a person and I do see that the content of your site does not necessarily match up perfectly with the web sites I noted in my previous email to you.
With that said, we actually operate over 200 different online stores, all of which can be seen here. I can offer you any product from any of those sites valued up to $100 to keep for free and review or giveaway.
If that is not something you are interested in, perhaps you might be able to offer some space on your side bar for a text link? Let me know your thoughts on those two options when you get a chance.
I intend to reply to Jason. Maybe he’d be up for a guest blog post.
I can go on and on. It’s clear people, not machines, are sending me email messages. I appreciate they are responding, and I’m willing to bet I’m in the minority asking them to be authentic about who they are and what they are trying to pitch. And therein lies the rub. They’re not pitching me, at least not according to this tweet from Matter Communications:
If you’re including an opt-out on the bottom of a pitch, it’s NOT a pitch. Pitches = KNOWING your target WANTS to know what you have to say.
None of the aforementioned emails included opt-outs, but they also failed to know who I am and what I write about. They also failed to be personal. If they had, I wouldn’t have replied as I did.
Amy Mengel suggests public relations professionals need to write better. Email copy “needs to be informative and compelling,” she argues. How come it isn’t?