In Search of a Cure for LFS

Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief of Wired, has published a list of PR spammers who made his “one strike and you’re out” list.

I’ve had it. I get more than 300 emails a day and my problem isn’t spam (Cloudmark Desktop solves that nicely), it’s PR people. Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching.

I wonder how many of these offenders were “reaching out?” And in the turnabout-is-fair-play department, Chris has posted their email addresses on his blog. It’s a long list. He says it’s not specifically intended to allow spambots to harvest their addresses and subject them to spam, but if that happens, so be it.

Glenna Shaw in HealthLeaders News likewise shares some tips for hospital PR staff in her column, “Please Release Me.” Her pet peeve is PR people who call to ask, “Did you get our press release?”

Chris says there’s no way off his block list. If you’re on the list and really want to send him something important and that will be meaningful and interesting to him, you’ll need to get another email address to send it.

That’s a bit of a problem for his solution, because getting a free email address takes just a couple of minutes, and his ostracized ones will be right back at it (although it might cause them to think twice.)

I think using Facebook for PR/journalist interactions could be a better way. You only get one Facebook identity (Facebook works really hard to keep it this way; there are some exceptions, but for the most part this is true.) So if you block someone (and maybe you wouldn’t want to do it on the first offense, but could give a warning), they stay blocked.

Journalists who want to get better targeted pitches could list in their Facebook interests the beats they cover and the types of stories that are most appealing. This could be done in their individual profiles. One downside to this approach is that it requires someone to be your “friend” before they can see your interests. But with various levels of “friends” coming as a new feature in Facebook, I see it having potential to enable people to show a limited profile (that might include these work-related interests) to a wider community, while keeping the really personal stuff more private. The messaging system in Facebook would enable you to have much more control over the types of messages you get. And don’t get.
There’s no complete cure for LFS (Lazy “Flack” Syndrome), but I firmly believe the social networking sites, be they Facebook or another platform, will play a role in improving relations between PR professionals and journalists. As Bob Aronson said in a comment on the previous post, it really is all about relationships. And sending a thoughtless pitch (or “reaching out” without thinking about whom you are reaching), is a bad way to start a relationship.

It may just end it.

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Author: Lee Aase

Husband of one, father of six, grandfather of 15. Chancellor Emeritus, SMUG. Emeritus staff of Mayo Clinic. Founder of HELPcare and Administrator for HELPcare Clinic.

0 thoughts on “In Search of a Cure for LFS”

  1. Lee:
    I am dismayed at the ongoing, careless use of words in modern journalism. It seems that many journalists repeat what the mistakes of others rather than consult a dictionary to be sure they are properly using the English language.

    I realize that meanings change over time but why? Some old timers/purists like me get really upset at the thoughtless misuse of words by many of today’s journalists. Edward R. Murrow, Pauline Frederick and Walter Cronkite would have blanced at hearing the following two examples:

    When Franklin Roosevelt made his famous statement, “…a day that will live in infamy” in 1941, he was referring to treachery, not fame. If someone or something is described as “infamous”, it simply means “treacherous.”

    Another example of misused words is “reticent.” It does not mean reluctant it means quiet. “He was reticent as others argued about health care.”

    Enough already! If others agree that this nonsense should stop then lodge a protest with the next journalist you find talking about the “infamous” Barry Bonds.

  2. Sure, I write a short comment and find my own errors after it has been published and can’t be edited. Moral of the story, “Don’t criticize others until you are sure you are beyond criticism.” I just made that up.

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