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October 29, 2009


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Lou Covey

What you just did validated their effort. All they are trying to do is get web hits. By publishing the headlines, you gave them what they are looking for. And now that you did it, they will continue to send them, even if you never do it again.

Cheryl Harrison

Whew, thanks for the warning - you scared me with those capital letters! The untargeted, unpersonalized mass press release to anyone-who's-email-address-you-can-get-ahold-of is a shame, and a disgrace to PR.

David Meerman Scott

Hi Lou - note that I did not link to them. So what good is the Web hit for them? Just a check mark that a PR staffer makes in a report to the company? David


My eyes! My eyes!

I think you should reply with this link www.changethis.com/pdf/37.03.Gobbledygook.pdf

Rachel Bryant

What's the deal with the all-caps headlines? "Screams" cheap...


Terrible terrible terrible! And the headlines are boring too! Clearly they have not read ANY of your books!!

Kathleen Hanover

To play devil's advocate, yes, these are all perfect examples of press release spam (and probably wretched press release writing, too). But sometimes--in fact, many times--the PR pro finds it impossible to push back on a client who wants you to send their shiny new press release to everyone on earth "just in case." The client sees no down side to this, because, after all, "email is free." And even when you explain why press release spam is a bad idea, some clients just don't give a rip--because they don't have any skin in the game. Why should they care about alienating journalists who wouldn't cover them anyway? It's the PR pro who suffers by being blacklisted, so it's the PR pro who has to learn how to push back.

Greg Digneo

Even if you did link to these, I'm not sure that your readers would actually click through to read the whole press release.

Five minutes spent reading your blog should have been an indicator that your audience wouldn't care about partnerships and new product launches. And they most certainly don't care about FIFA soccer.

I'd be interested to hear from one of the "spammers" to learn just how effective this tactic is.

Bradley H. Smith

Oooo! Oooo! Pick me! Pick me! I know why!! Oooo!

Email is free.

Give us HARDER questions David :)

Best as always
~ Bradley

Dan Schawbel

I don't really get mad at spam anymore because I'm used to it. I delete these types of emails immediately (subconsciously).

Becky Blanton

You obviously did not get your C1N1 (Corporate1Nonsense1) vaccine. It protects against viruses and corporate spam caused by cubicle monkeys with access to email and a send button.

Once infected I've found it helpful to respond with the "reporting spam" function on my gmail account. I also set up a dummy account where PR folks can send all the spam they want. I periodically review it and give companies who have a clue my real email. So you miss a story once in awhile. It's worth it not to have the C1N1 virus.

Jeff Davis

I get them too (got one today for laptops and I blog about food). I reply back to the sender and make them feel stupid with a "why is this relevant to me?" question. If it persists, I include the agency management on my replies, and have been known to contact the client to let them know how their budget is being wasted by their inept agency.

Anne Sorensen (Marketing Is Us)

Great post - thanks David. Guess it just comes down to understanding your audience. If unsure - a personal approach beforehand to guage interest is useful - and builds relationships. In the age of one on one conversations - spamming press releases - is akin to mass marketing. Doesn't work.

Ben Merrion

Great examples of what not to do. We send out very few email press releases and only to reporters who might be interested in our issue - adult literacy. We've just started to use paid web services and PitchEngine to distribute releases and it seems to be working. I really liked Louise's and Becky's suggestions.

David Gordon Schmidt

All true. As you have aptly pointed out in your books, the News Release is not primarily for the press anymore (surprised you're using the term "press release") - it's a communication tool that should go directly to your marketplace through RSS and other means. Unfortunately, most still rely on the puffed-up self-proclamation as the main ingredient. Let's all be "world leading."

Kudos for just publishing the headlines and not trying to embarrass the senders (as did the tired-old Wired magazine).

David Gordon Schmidt

Doug - Velocity, B2B Marketing Agency

I did a spoof press release to point out this ludicrous practice:


Ironically, it got us a bit of attention!

Janice L. Brown

Great article.

The "checklist PR" folks clearly need to update their checklists.

As you have pointed out in your books, direct-to-consumer news releases - properly SEOed - delivered over the Web are a great way to reach the buyers who care about your expertise or need your product. D2C releases also reach bloggers and press (yes, they use Google alerts too.)

"Pull" PR is much more effective than the usual dialing-for-dollars crap. Helping the right people to "discover" a client makes the client much more valuable to them - and today there are so many ways that we can help the right customers, traditional press and bloggers discover clients, such as Twitter.

I still use email, but sparingly. I find that most reporters and bloggers do appreciate an advance or heads-up if the news is important and relevant to them.

I never, as a policy, email a blogger or journalist unless I read their work regularly or have familiarized myself with it. Yes, this takes a bit more time, but I feel that it's more cost-effective for the client in the long run.

The big challenge is educating clients on the new rules. I have given out about two dozen of your books to clients. It's a process, but I am encouraged by how many of them are starting to understand.


Hi David,

As an associate that has a boss, I am often asked to send press releases out to people that I know do not cover my area. It drives me crazy. Maybe some of those listed are in the same position. Still struggling to get the new rules accepted.

Note: I am in the process of changing that...moving on.

John Patella

I wish there were a more satisfying way of deleting this kind of annoying spam mail. Maybe an explosion sound effect, or the receding scream of someone being dropped into a deep pit. Anyway, Happy Halloween. :-)

Jamie Favreau

Those are really sad. Plus they are in Gobbedygook as well. So I can imagine how ticked you were when you opened it.

Mark Malafarina

To your point David I didn't even read your whole post. All those non-relevant messages just made me ignore it. Not sure it's what you wanted to hear, but it definitely makes your point a valid one.

Brad Slavin

I really enjoy your blog and I mentioned it in my list of favorite marketing sites @ http://www.bradslavin.com/2009/11/01/top-online-marketing-resources-and-websites/

Mistie Thompson

Those headlines made my eyes bleed. Seriously, I know clients can be - ahem - demanding, but still, I'm betting PR "pros" wrote 80% of those headlines without being forced to by the client. PR industry, heal thyself before casting all the stones on the clients.


Blacklist 'em like TechCrunch. Great way to hold them accountable. My guess the client doesn't know what low levels agencies (or their vendors) go to on their behalf...

Kyla, Web Designer

I get a lot of that too, in fact sometimes I get really excited to try out a new product but then when you go to their site, oops...for U.S residents only..haha...what I do now is just keep a personal email and another email for subscriptions to other site. At least now I don't have to get all those unwanted email...but let's face it email campaign does work.

David Gordon Schmidt

David Gordon Schmidt

To Doug (Velocity)about your comment above: love your fake release, especially the "we're thrilled" part - if you read and believe news releases, you start to think there must be a lot of CEOs jumping up and down in glee out there.
You left out the typical hyperbole and bragging though. I have an analogy in my recent post:


Spam, Spam, Spam and Eggs... oh wait... threw me back into the Monty Python subworld. (The age-challenged among us might get this)

Stephanie Shkolnik

Rather than just putting them to rest, I am glad you pointed these out to show the importance of not spamming!

Many think that perhaps there is a chance that you will discuss an irrelevant press release, but from your book you make it clear that you rarely (if ever), cover stories that you receive from press release emails...Its all about what you find out on the web on your own.

These individuals need to focus more on strengthening their SEO and less on sending irrelevant content to trusted sources to get recognized by the appropriate outlets!

Thanks again David!

Nigel Burke

In this fantastic medium that we have before us - why do people have to spam us? Is it because it's too easy to just send the release to everyone?

ps. I just finished reading your book and put a review on my blog :)

I loved your book but I wished I read it two years ago. Still relevant today though

Nigel Burke

Hi David, Thank you for dropping by my blog! It really is exciting times that we are currently experiencing. I will be ordering your other books shortly and will review them for you too.


Mountainland Applied Tech

Its probably from the distribution services not the actual businesses themselves. The distribution really needs to be more targeted because they are charging businesses to send irrelevant spam that no one wants.

Denz@Hosted dialer

News are boring... Instead of giving you a happy day it gives you the other way around.

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