Ask first to add me to your email list.
Sometimes I’ll speak briefly with one p.r. person or a marketing manager and suddenly I’m on their mass email list. In most cases, I get content then that’s irrelevant to me (such as financial results which I don’t ever, ever cover). I no longer reply and ask to be taken off. I simply block all future email from that domain.
I know that sounds harsh, but it was getting to be more than 100 mass emails a day and in most cases, even when I asked to be taken off, I wasn’t. So read that again: If you put me on your company’s email mailing list without my permission, I will block you from my email account and, if I think you’re being abusive with it, I can request that your company’s entire domain is blocked from every CBC.ca address.
Save the gimmicks.
Every November, all the tech companies and p.r. firms send me little attention?getting packages. Samsung sent me a really ugly tie with an iron?on stencil showing their new line of printers. Motorola (I think) sent me a little square of chocolate in the shape of a cell phone.
I’m sure that used to work when no p.r. firms were doing it, but now everybody is doing it. Save your budget. Most of them go into the trash right away. What I want is a compelling story, not a tie.
Get an RSS Feed.
Yes, I was late to the RSS party, but I’m a believer now. :?) Each morning, I hit my Bloglines account to check in with the companies who publish an RSS feed of their news releases. It’s a fantastic tool for journalists and I’ve done national segments on companies after seeing something they released on their feed. Many p.r. flacks will say “Well, we have a news release page on our web site, so you can check in there every day!” If I had a dollar… ;?)
Note: This series was originally written and published in 2008.