Aug 16 2008

Hey, PR guys, I am listening, even if I don’t respond

Published by at 8:56 am under Blogging

And now for an off-topic Saturday morning rant:

In the last week there was an interesting meme led by Robert Scoble (what a surprise) about tech bloggers and PR people. It’s been an interesting back and forth even though it’s only tangentially important to me, it’s still something worth commenting on.

I read almost every press release and PR note that I receive. It may not be a top to bottom read, but I do read enough to make a judgment call as to whether or not the email is of enough interest to me to read further. Often I try to acknowledge that I received the email by responding to the PR folks who sent it, though this has been happening less lately as my time becomes more constrained by travel. If someone’s sending me press releases that have nothing to do with security, I’m more likely to respond and explain to them what I do and write about so that they won’t waste their time and mine telling me about stuff that is of no interest to me. And it’s surprising how many PR folks appreciate this feedback.

A prime example of folks who get how to interact with security bloggers is Connect Public Relations. They send me a two to three sentence email pointing me to a client’s blog post, usually Symantec. Here’s a recent example:

Hi Martin,

I wanted to let you know that Kevin Haley has entered a blog post about some survey results from Symantec on how security professionals are using social networking. Are they like everybody else? You can see what Kevin had to say about it here:

That’s it. They’ve sent me something relevant to me, haven’t wasted a bunch of my time with a long email, asked me for my opinions and let me get back to my life. I usually go and scan through the blog posts even if I rarely use them as fodder for my own posts. It’s not that I don’t find the posts interesting, it’s just that as often as not, I either don’t have the time or just don’t find anything that resonates with me enough to elicit a blog post of my own.

What I hate receiving is the long, drawn out, mass produced, hype-filled, product announcements. There’s maybe one in a hundred of these that I can read past the first paragraph. Quite frankly, most of these announcements are just hype with almost no real substance to them. If you don’t care enough to figure out why your product might apply to me personally or professionally, then why should I?. There are some exceptions when people are inviting me to participate in beta programs or are honestly looking for feedback, but those are rare. I wish I had the time and energy to take advantage of more of the betas, but work, blogging, podcasting and family are more important to me than checking out a new tool I would rarely or never use otherwise.

I don’t want to be broadcasted to or towards by PR agencies, and I doubt many other security professionals do either. I know I don’t have the sort of draw someone like Robert Scoble does, not many people do. I don’t expect to be included in the A-list that’s told before everyone else; but I do want to feel that the person at the other end of the email has take a few moments to at least understand who I am, what I write about and why their message might be of interest to me.

So if you’re a PR person sending me email and press releases, please know that I’m probably reading what you sent me, even if I only skim the email. But also be aware that I’m probably going to spend the same amount of energy or less on reading the email than you spent sending it. So if I’m just part of the 10,000 person mailing list you send to on a weekly basis, don’t excpect much in return. But if you’re actually treating me as a real person instead of another field in your Excel spreadsheet, the chances are I’m listening, even if I don’t respond.

P.S. You could always try giving me a call. My cell # is on the About page for a reason.

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