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When Doing PR For Anti-Spam Firm... Don't Spam 116

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the things-you-can't-make-up dept.
netbuzz writes "Rule #1 when doing PR for an antispam vendor: Don't spam. This isn't exactly brain surgery, yet the fellow at a PR agency called Rocket Science managed to violate Rule #1 while attempting to drum up publicity for Singlefin, which provides e-mail, IM and Web filtering services to the likes of Juno and NetZero. He also violated Rules #2 and #3." Given the hundreds of press releases I get in my inbox on a weekly basis, PR folks in general need to learn that lesson regardless of their clients.
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When Doing PR For Anti-Spam Firm... Don't Spam

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:25AM (#15784451) Homepage Journal

    I just slam-dunk this all into the bit bin and hit empty.

    I'm particularly amused by sp4m which includes [%TO_ADDRESS]

  • Perfect Marketing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PylonHead (61401) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:27AM (#15784463) Homepage Journal
    Actually if you have an anti-spam product, then advertising it by spamming is the perfect strategy.

    You'll only reach the customers that need your product.
    • by 2names (531755) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:31AM (#15784518)
      So by that rationale, if I am a personal injury attorney I should start ramming my car into random vehicles?
    • Re:Perfect Marketing (Score:5, Informative)

      by ciscoguy01 (635963) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:50AM (#15784682)
      I think Network World's complaint is completely overblown. They guy sent 11 messages to various writers at a publication that is completely on-target.
      OK, maybe he could have done some research as to whom at that publication might write about their product, but heck, it's completely related to their business.

      And 11 messages is completely different than sending out 4.8 million ads for V1agrka.

      FWIW, I read about Singlefin.com some time ago, I signed up (free, forever, up to 10 mailboxes) to test it for clients, (but never did).

      One thing interesting: On signing up on their site, I clicked submit for my registration, and almost immediately the phone rang. Allan from Singlefin. I have to say they are right on top of their business, and even though I haven't yet tried it I think it's very nice of them offering free service for a small number of mailboxes. The way it works is you redirect your MX to them, they filter the mail and send it on to your mailserver. Pretty nice. If you have the guts to let someone else be your MX, that is.
      • Re:Perfect Marketing (Score:5, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @01:04PM (#15785293) Journal
        They [sic] guy sent 11 messages to various writers at a publication that is completely on-target.
        Yea, you said the same thing on the blog over there.
        FTFA:
        In this instance, however, the mass mailing was readily apparent to all because the "To:" field of the e-mail was populated by 116 clearly visible names -- our 11 staffers, the three exes, and 102 other journalists.

        And if that wasn't enough to convince every targeted scribe that he or she was getting a less-than-exclusive interview opportunity, there was this personalized method of address:

        "Hello [RecipientFirstName]:"
        So, PR n00b sent this e-mail to every address he could scrape off their website (whether it was related to anti-spamming or not), then couldn't be bothered to properly personalize the vaguely targeted e-mails.

        So, aside from the fact that 116 messages were actually sent out, at least some of the people at NWW received unsolicited and unwanted e-mail (aka spam).

        I'm not sure why you're making excuses for teh n00blet PR guy, but your reasoning only stands up if someone hasn't actually RTFA.
        • FTFA:
          In this instance, however, the mass mailing was readily apparent to all because the "To:" field of the e-mail was populated by 116 clearly visible names -- our 11 staffers, the three exes, and 102 other journalists.
          And if that wasn't enough to convince every targeted scribe that he or she was getting a less-than-exclusive interview opportunity, there was this personalized method of address:
          "Hello [RecipientFirstName]:"
          So, PR n00b sent this e-mail to every address he could scrape off
    • like the pop-ups advertising pop-up blockers
    • Actually if you have an anti-spam product, then advertising it by spamming is the perfect strategy

      The article never mentions if it was an opt-on mailing list. If so, I wouldn't consider it spam.
  • by OakDragon (885217) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:27AM (#15784466) Journal
    Tired of getting mail like this? If so, please visit [WebsiteURL] and try a 30 day free trial of [CompanyProduct]!

    To be removed from our list, please send your credit card number to [AdminEmail]

    Rocket Science?! Oh, the ironing is delicious...

  • This isn't exactly brain surgery, yet the fellow at a PR agency called Rocket Science managed to violate Rule #1

    If it had been rocket science, they may have gotten it right.

  • by GundamFan (848341) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:28AM (#15784475)
    That's great... now the queston is; if you are already a customer would the product block this mail and if so is that blackmail?
  • Screw ups (Score:5, Informative)

    by linvir (970218) * on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:28AM (#15784478)

    By the looks of things, only 116 actual mails were sent. In fact... the whole thing is actually just a big chain of fuckups.

      1. Someone at Rocket Science somehow didn't know who they were meant to email, so they just sent it to all the addresses they could find.
      2. They didn't think to BCC, so all the To: addresses were visible.
      3. Obviously, with a big single mail like this, they couldn't address it properly
      4. They forgot to stroke the ego of the nobody editor of some website
    1. Mr. Egomaniac Editor then wrote a very sensationalised blog entry about the incident, incorrectly referring to it as 'spam'.
    2. And submitted it to Slashdot
    3. Taco accepted the submission

    When will someone step up and be the hero in this story?

    • Re:Screw ups (Score:1, Insightful)

      When will someone step up and be the hero in this story?

      5. linvir got on /. and flamed everyone, showing what a big sexy stud he is
    • Astroturfing, too (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:34AM (#15784538) Homepage Journal
      The submitter is "buzz@nww.com"; the article is at networkworld.com. Of course nww.com is just an alias for networkworld.com. I couldn't immediately tell if buzz == Paul McNamara, but it's at least astroturfing for the site.
      • So if the submitter is clearly identified with Networkworld, how is it astroturfing?. Looks to me like he submitted his own article that we might find interesting.

        I don't see what the problem is. Especially considering there aren't any ads on the site.

      • Yes, its the same guy:

        When not blogging, I am a Network World news editor and write the 'Net Buzz column

        Its also definitely astroturfing, because he admits he wasn't spammed, and that what really pissed him off was that he wasn't included ...

        All of which I might have let slide without remark if not for this final indignity: Nowhere among those 11 Network World addressees, three former employees, and 102 other journalists could I find the name that matters most: mine.

        I think his theory goes somet

        • Oh yea, Network World. For years, I had one of their free subscriptions. I don't know how I signed up for it (I highly suspect that they got my address off of a list, however, I might have signed up for it), but I had it for years. Once in a while I looked at it, but mostly it just helped fill my mailbox. Every once in a while they sent me a survey, which I never answered. Finally one day I got what amounted to a 'threatening letter' from them saying that I needed to fill out the survey. I say 'threat
    • Re:Screw ups (Score:3, Informative)

      by wayne (1579)

      By the looks of things, only 116 actual mails were sent.

      Not quite. It appears that *at least* 116 people were sent the email, quite possibly more since the journalist's name wasn't one of those 116 people.

      The most widely accepted definition of spam is "Unsolicited Bulk Email". I'm not sure that this particular email is really unsolicited since it appears to have been sent to a reporter in an area closely related to the subject matter of the PR. Bulk, however, has to be defined as anything over 1. I

    • It wan't a failure. Remember - "The only thinkg worse than bad publicity is NO publicity."

      Look at it this way - with 116 emails, the guy has gotten his story onto slashdot as a front-page article. So, who are the 116 people I have to email to get the same treatment?

      • This is just like stealing a penny is wrong and still stealing

        Actually, stealing an ordinary penny is NOT de facto illegal, under the principle of "de minimus non curat lex" - the law doesn't concern itself with trifles http://www.answers.com/topic/de-minimis-non-curat - lex [answers.com]

        So, since the law chooses to ignore it, it may be argued that, by society's standards, it isn't "wrong", just a nuisance.

        • This is just like stealing a penny is wrong and still stealing

          Actually, stealing an ordinary penny is NOT de facto illegal


          He said it was wrong, not illegal.
          • And I pointed out that our society doesn't impose sanctions on such activities, so they may be nuisances, but society doesn't judge it as "wrong" - society, by the principle of non minimus lex, refuses to come to any sort of conclusion as to the "wrongness" of it.

            There are some things that are so trifling that they carry no "wrongness" with them. Just as not saying the truth when asked "does this dress make me look fat" isn't wrong, even though its a lie.

            Then there are the cases that are far from trif

        • I still like to believe the threshold to criminal comes before the threshold to illegal, and to illegal before "de minimis" takes hold. And that it's a long, long way from rude to criminally rude. And that "wrong" kicks in even before the "rude" threshold.
          • ummm ... illegal comes before criminal, not after.

            For example, its illegal to park in a no parking zone, but its not criminal behaviour. You're not a "convicted felon" for doing so.

            Also, I'm sure you can think of a few sitations where being rude is the morally right thing to do. For example, if some jerk is hitting on your significant other, and refuses to take "sorry, but I'm with someone already" as an answer.

            Wrongness is a moral judgment. As such, it can only be made by looking at all the particip

      • Sometimes bad publicity is bad indeed.

        For instance, I'm quite sure Bernard Shifman [wikipedia.org] didn't get that much benefit out of all that publicity.
    • Re:Screw ups (Score:3, Insightful)

      by merc (115854)
      Someone at Rocket Science somehow didn't know who they were meant to email, so they just sent it to all the addresses they could find....Mr. Egomaniac Editor then wrote a very sensationalised blog entry about the incident, incorrectly referring to it as 'spam'.

      Spam (or UCE/UBE--Unsolicited Commercial/Bulk Email) is typically defined as email which is unsolicited in nature. From what you said it sounds as though RS harvested all of the addresses "they could find". It certainly doesn't sound as though they
    • How about letting us moderate the stories as well as just the comments. That way if we don't like a story we can just mod it down instead of complaining about it. That would both provide some measure of the value of the stories and get some of us off Taco's back :)
    • 5 ???
      6 PROFIT

      (someone had to do it)
  • If u cn rd ths email,

    You must not be using our products!
  • Not Really Spam (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Roody Blashes (975889)
    I expected to see an article about a mass-mailing campaign to advertise the firm, but this is just some dope shooting emails randomly at this blogger's company rather than specifically targetting the relevant person.

    It's not nearly as bad as the heading and write-up sound. Far from normal connotations of spamming, this falls more under the category of "stupid".
  • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:30AM (#15784498)
    Is the second rule "you DO NOT talk about spam"?
    I don't see how that would work considering they need to advertise an anti-spam product.
  • I remember the mass Net Send era.. where people could make/buy programs that did a mass net send command to bulk ip addresses.... Before I turned net send off, I saw a few ad's come up, on programs that disable getting ads like that. All it did was turn the service for net send off, or just run a program to filter it... It was pretty simple, but on the same token, anti-spammers will find themselves violating what they are advertising to fight to get the word out... Its sad...
  • Is that spam? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:32AM (#15784527)
    Given the hundreds of press releases I get in my inbox on a weekly basis, PR folks in general need to learn that lesson regardless of their clients.


    Which inbox... your personal or your business one? Your personal one shouldn't get any PR material. But your business one... well, that's just how the world works. Businesses will get mail targeted for what they are doing. That at least is relevant. I have a tad bit more patience for relevant advertising mail than for "be$t CIA1is softabs!" and Rolex replicas.

    Press Releases aren't, they're just tedious. And everyone writes them. Even OSDN and OSTG [google.com]. And considering you are a news source, consider it a blessing that you get press releases; it confirms your relevance. Plus, every once in a while, you'll find one that's actually interesting.

    • In fact I think the opposite is true.

      In business your inbox is worth money. I've more than once reported people for 'targetting' me because of my email address and satisfyingly had the emails of some of the more obnoxious company email accounts shut down :)

      If I want the hear about a product I'll go on google and look for it. I don't want crap being thrown at my inbox - and that goes *double* for my work inbox.
  • *hangs head* (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blinder (153117) * <blinder.dave@gmai l . c om> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:32AM (#15784529) Homepage Journal
    while i do not work in pr, my degree *clears throat* is in public relations... and if there's one thing our school taught is... learn to question your bosses/managers/clients. i mean, to be an effective pr person, you have to be able to ask questions like "well, gee, sending a spam might not be the best for our reputation."

    now, in the case of this particular story -- the pr person who prepared this is just, i believe, a moron. the other thing we were taught in pr is that every news organization has something akin to a "wall of shame." these are places where stupid/poorly written/misdirected/etc. releases get posted for all (in the newsroom) to laugh at. this fact is always a motivator for a pr person to get it right (at least one who wants to do a good job).

    included with this is the knowledge that just about every journalst/editor you come across will, of course, have a superior attitude (which i always found funny - because without pr people, journalists would either not get a story or have to do a significant amount of leg work to get it, and well, journalists, also, by and large, are lazy.)

    so, with all that in mind, every release has a lot riding on it, and an effective pr person knows this and just doesn't do a half-assed cluster-fuck of a job in writing or distributing releases. pr people are targets. easy targets. highly mis-understood targets, and therefor its up to the pr people to make damn sure they don't make it any easier.
    • Re:*hangs head* (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      because without pr people, journalists would either not get a story or have to do a significant amount of leg work to get it, and well, journalists, also, by and large, are lazy.

      I'm sure your high-school, grammar, teacher is also, hanging her head...

    • included with this is the knowledge that just about every journalst/editor you come across will, of course, have a superior attitude (which i always found funny - because without pr people, journalists would either not get a story or have to do a significant amount of leg work to get it, and well, journalists, also, by and large, are lazy.)

      That is exactly what schools teach, but it's no more true than what the journalists are taught (that all PR people are parasitic shills who are looking to take advanta

    • It's not appropriate to call sending a press release to a news site "spam", because it is *not* unsolicited. Every news site/paper has a submission policy for submitting PR, and actively encourages all relevant industry players to send press releases.

      The incompetent individual who sent the PR did not pay attention to the press release submission policy, and he didn't know how to properly address e-mail or stroke journalist egos. However, he was sending a *solicited* e-mail to apropriate individuals. And, as
    • ...without pr people, journalists would either not get a story or have to do a significant amount of leg work to get it, and well, journalists, also, by and large, are lazy.)

      Oh, dear God, where do I begin? You've never worked on the other side of the fence, have you pal? If you knew anything about the news biz, you wouldn't be calling journalists lazy. Most of the people I've known in that line of work -- and I've met a few -- are determined and driven individuals. You almost have to be; freelance jou

  • Stupidity, yes. But my count was 116 or so emails. Hardly "spam"

    "Rule #3 when doing PR for an antispam vendor: Don't dis the news editor who writes a blog."And that is where I stopped careing. IT'S A BLOG, people. Less important than the opinion page of a newspaper...

    • This is also a blog. [slashdot.org] Don't mess with the bloggers; they'll fsck you up.
    • So by your definition when does it become spam.. 200? 2000? 2 million?

      Sorry, spam is not about numbers. He's a spammer. He should throw himself off a cliff before someone does it for him.

      • Sorry, spam is not about numbers. He's a spammer.

        Bullshit. Someone made a human error. By the way, with out the "Marketing guys", many of the pundits here at Slashdot would be posting their little gems of wisdom from the public libaray instead of from their employer's network.

  • It doesn't take the brains of a rocket scientist to know that you don't send out spam like email when doing anti spam anything.
  • Yes these are cruel times indeed :) A non spam company needs spam to survive ! HOw ironic !
  • by hellfire (86129) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [vdalived]> on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @11:48AM (#15784662) Homepage
    I've got a counter of how many times someone says the following:

    "Geez, how could this guy fuck up a PR email? It isn't Rocket Science."

    Maybe we can get to 50 by lunch.
  • Don't spam (Score:1, Redundant)

    by caluml (551744)
    Don't spam - it's not Rocket Science (TM, Ltd.)
  • ...yet the fellow at a PR agency called Rocket Science...

    See? That's got to be a fake! C'mon people, wake up!

  • the submission itself is spam.

    Notice the odd resemblence between the submitter's URL and the linked story.
    • This submitted story is spam. Consider that the Submitter, Netbuzz, [slashdot.org] has only twice posted comments (both of which link networkworld.com) and has had 6 stories accepted since April - on top of which, each story features a link to (surprise, surprise) networkworld.com in a section called "buzzblog".

      Phishy.
  • "Do you hate spam? Like this? So do we, get our product!"

    It is akin to a protection money deal, but hey, that's free enterprise!
  • Well, maybe it was deliberate? We're all talking about it :-)
  • If your Qi is strong they will come.

    There is no honor in poking the anti-spam hornet nest with a stick.

    And you shirley will be stung.
  • Meh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by machine of god (569301) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:20PM (#15784918)
    I would never have heard of these people. Now I have heard of them.
  • bad PR (Score:3, Funny)

    by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @12:44PM (#15785138)
    I'd think one of the most important things for a PR firm to do would be to understand who it is they're representing, and what ideals and values the company wants to represent. I mean, come on, this isn't exactly... oh. Nevermind.
    • Re:bad PR (Score:3, Funny)

      by BCW2 (168187)
      Remember, most PR folks have degrees in marketing. I started to get a marketing degree myself, then I realized I wasn't qualified, I have a conscience!
        Marketing - the art of persuading as many people as possible to pay way to much for things they don't need! Normally done by a dumbass (in this case for sure) to a thundering herd of dumbass.

      By the way Gates is a marketing genius.
  • Oddly enough, rules #2 and #3 are "location" and "location".
  • 1. Send email to 116 addresses advertising your spam product
    2. Get the event posted to /. - Bask in the free publicity (how many /.ers heard the name Singlefin before this?)
    4. ???
    4. PROFIT!!!
  • I wonder if the publicist was trying to be funny...

    Years ago, before spam filters and very serious spam problems, friends of mine sent emails with subjects like "Make Money Fast" or "hot nekkid chiks". Ho ho ho, how very droll we thought.

    Then fairly recently when spam started to show basic programmers errors like "Dear %name_of_recipient" I also got this deliberately typed into emails as yet another sly dig at the morons at the bottom of the programming food chain trying and failing to emit randomised eng

  • by twbell (257423) on Wednesday July 26, 2006 @02:28PM (#15785899)
    Remember the Far Side cartoon where the fellow picks up a brick that has been chucked into his front room with the message: "Bricks through your window? Call Al's Glass...."?
  • Actually no, Paul McNamara at NetworkWorld wrote it. The submission is simply cut-and-pasted from the first paragraph of the article. If you're going to just digg, at least attribute.
  • by kopo (890010)
    I tried using their email forwarding service about a year and a half ago, and then cancelled my account. Since then, I've been getting "Bigfoot Anti-Spam" newsletters and other random ads from them on my cell phone (and I get to pay for the messages!). Their customer service did absolutely nothing when I emailed them.

    Oh, and the messages come from randomly generated @news.bigfoot.com addresses, so there's no way to block them with my cell service provider (which only blocks specific addresses). Hmm, could t

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