November 25, 2007

Belated thoughts about Anderson's actions on "The Long Tail" blog

I was asked by our intern at the office my thoughts about Chris Anderson's actions in regards to posting 329 publicists emails on his blog. Below is what I thought of the entire incident.

Having followed Chris Anderson’s blog prior to his actions of posting roughly 329 PR professional’s emails my opinion is a bit mixed. The unfortunate thing about Chris’ actions is that it has brought about negative reactions from other journalists toward fellow PR practitioners.

Shortly after Anderson posted the emails, Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic Tim Page of the Washington Post responded to an unsolicited news release that he received about D.C. Council member Marion Barry's views on a community hospital issue with a jocular note back to the publicist stating:

“Must we hear about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new--and typically half-witted--political grandstanding? I'd be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose.” Source of above information came from George Simpson of Media Post.

I agree with fellow publicists that it was unprofessional for Anderson to post a list of emails and to call them “lazy flacks,” since we are supposed to work together. As for Tim Page’s reply to the unsolicited press release it too was inappropriate, and agree with Washington Post Management’s decision to have Page publicly apologize

However, both of these responses to those press releases raise a bigger ethical issue about how we as publicists distribute releases to journalists. They both point to a lack of due diligence on the part of the publicist who should determine if the email they have for a editor/ journalist is the right person to send a particular press release too. Simply relying on media contact information from purchased databases, such as Cision or online editorial information is not an end all resource for smart media/ blogger outreach and media relations.

There are no excuses for why a publicist should not be able to take the time to call the publication to ensure your press release reaches the right person and is not seen as spam or lazy behavior. As a member of the PR industry we are responsible to ensure the industry’s image is not seen in a negative way.