These days, ErosBlog gets a lot of PR emails, from folks with mainstream publications (whether still printed on dead trees expensively coated in glossy clay, or migrating rapidly from that sinking ship onto the cheaper high ground of the virtual internets).

There’s a few fundamental best practices for internet PR professionals. Mostly, they seem unaware of them.

One fairly basic politeness (that you’d think their mommas would have taught them) is to make an introduction. A PR professional ought to introduce himself or herself and say who they represent. They almost never do this; they just breezily offer up the link they are trying to promote and sign off with “Julie” or “Bob” like you are their close friend who never heard of them before.

This is a professional mistake, because the line between “internet PR professional” and “spammer” is dangerously thin. The only sure way to avoid crossing it is to actually forge a relationship with the people you’re marketing to. And relationships, as everybody should know who ever had a momma, start with an introduction. In meatspace, you walk up, offer your hand to shake, and say, “Hi, I’m Roger Eurace, I do PR for a couple of magazines and I like your blog, I think we’ve got some common interests.” In email, you can’t shake hands, but that first line “I’m Hugh Gepenies from Big Richard Magazine, and [eight words making it clear this is not a form letter sent to dozens of people]” is absolutely essential.

Why? Because if you open with your spam-ish marketing message, and it’s not individually tailored to the recipient, it’s a dead give-away that you likely did spam the same email to dozens or hundreds of people. And that makes you a spammer, and a spammer is a type of thief (thief of attention, thief of time, thief of computer resources).

Worse yet, by not introducing yourself as a marketing professional, and by breezily signing your first name as if the recipient of the email already knows you, you convey the impression that you’re hoping to pretend to be a friend, or another blogger. That’s petty fraud, or would be if it weren’t so annoyingly, transparently obvious.

No organization who hires a PR professional wants their brand associated with petty thievery and fraud. But alleged PR professionals often don’t understand internet values, so they don’t understand that their small deceits and attempted frauds work at cross purposes to their primary goal of getting positive internet attention.

Finally, a true PR professional doesn’t waste time trying to promote something that’s likely to actively annoy the target of the contact. Which means, spammy bulk mailings become impossible; the PR person actually has to read the blogs he or she is marketing to. That’s good, because spamming a blogger with a link that’s likely to annoy said blogger is more likely to get you mocked than it is to get a link to the client’s website.

Enter Stephanie.

This morning I get this email:

> Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2009 10:48:52
> Subject: ‘Flirting with Disaster’ in DETAILS

The subject line alone trips my bullshit filters. The word “disaster” suggests one of those breathless mainstream “the dangers of dating” articles — as a pro-sex sort of publication, Eros Blog doesn’t focus much on sexual disaster, especially when it’s portrayed (as it too often is) as the inevitable consequence of unzipping your zipper. Moving on:

> From: Stephanie Kim {}
> To:

Ayup. Corporate marketing. Conde Nast has some good titles, I’m still reading.

> Good Morning-
> Have you ever encouraged your significant other to explore their
> bi-curiosity?

Gosh, that’s kind of a personal question, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not totally beyond the pale; it’s fair coming from a personal friend, or somebody who is on my blogroll that I’ve exchanged emails with before. But from a stranger?

Note the utter lack of an introduction. Note also there’s nothing in this intro that would have prevented mass-mailing this email to a dozen or a thousand or ten million other bloggers.

Next we get to the meat-like substance in the can of spam:

> In the January/February issue of DETAILS, we share the surprising
> and unintentional consequences.

Right ho, and you just proved you’ve never read ErosBlog. Spammer.

The consequences of “encouraging your significant other to explore their bi-curiousity” are deeply unpredictable. From an upside of endless wild three-ways to a downside of relationship-crushing rejection, you just never know until you try. If any of the possible outcomes are surprising, you weren’t being a clear-eyed sexual grown-up when you decided to take a whack at the bee-hive shaped pinata.

But we saw the “Flirting with Disaster” title, didn’t we? So we already know that this is a standard main-stream magazine “ZOMG, sexual adventurousness is dangerous” waste of time. Another in a long line of sex-negative propaganda pieces, all of which exist to prove that if you step out of your grey-flannel suit, you’re a doomed sinner who will surely suffer your just desserts of heartbreak, divorce, and damnation.

At this point the only thing we don’t know is how deep in the water this particular journalistic failboat will be.


Remind me again, why anybody who reads ErosBlog would think we might want to link favorably to an article talking about the manifest and obvious dangers of sexual openness and adventurousness?

Back to Stephanie, who (it turns out) has been winding up for a bit of fatuous condescension:

> Please be sure to link to our site should you post anything.

And you be sure to put covers on them magazines, it would sure be bad if they were flappin’ around on the news stands and nobody knew what their titles were!

Thanks for telling me how to do my job, lady. Thanks a bunch. I’ve been blogging since 2003 — how long have you been marketing dead tree magazines on the internet?

> Thank you for your consideration!
> Best,
> Stephanie

She might have rescued herself, from mockery if not from spammer status or mission failure, if she’d bothered to add a second line to her signature, something like “PR Assistant, Conde Nast Magazines”. But no, she’s come this far hoping I won’t think too hard about who she is, and she’s now trying to slide away from the contact without me ever noticing that she’s never said.

Enough about Stephanie. How full of fail is her proffered link?

more fail

Well, first of all, it’s important to remember that print magazines have lots of pages, so they can sell lots of ad space. And so, when they migrate to the web, they tend to take tiny little nine-paragraph articles and split them up across three different web “pages” to generate a bogus high volume of “page views”. It’s an annoying industry standard. Some magazines do this in print, too, splitting articles up with lots of jumps so you’ll have to page through the mag a lot of times. Recreating that physical pain in electronic form is just one of the many ways that the fading print dinosaurs are failing to adapt, and one of the biggest reasons why it’s a rare print magazine website that’s worth a bucket of warm spit.

Let’s move on to content. Remember the carefully gender-neutral hook in Stephanie’s email? “Have you ever encouraged your significant other to explore their bi-curiosity?” Well, ladies, have you?

Sorry, that was bait and switch. Stephanie has apparently heard of bi-curious men, but the reader of the article she’s promoting never will. The subheader under the “Flirting With Disaster” headline makes that clear: “Want your girlfriend to try a little sapphic action? Be careful what you wish for.”

There’s not a single word in the article about bi-curious men. “sapphic action” (lack of capital letter in original) sets the tone. Here’s a little word cloud of lovely phrases from the article:

“sapphic action” “conjugal bed” “Owen’s wife dropped the pink bomb” “lesbian awakening” “lesbian-obsessed guy” “do a shot of the Tila Tequila punch” “give girl-on-girl a try” “walk on the wild side” “Sapphic-themed sex” “chick-on-chick action”

I look at these things so you don’t have to. Sorry, Stephanie, it’s not worth a link.

failure delivery

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