Wired editor hits back against PR spammers

March 7, 2008

Sorry PR people: you’re blocked – writes Chris Anderson of WIRED magazine

Fed up with receiving vast quantities of inappropriate or badly written press releases, editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine, Chris Anderson, decided to hit back with some spamming of his own. By publishing the email addresses of the guilty senders, Chris hopes their email addresses will be picked up by spambots, resulting in them being similarly deluged by mass-mailed junk.

 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 (American PR agents -Ed.) 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. Fact: I am an actual person, not a team assigned to read press releases and distribute them to the right editors and writers (that’s editor@wired.com).

So fair warning: I only want two kinds of email: those from people I know, and those from people who have taken the time to find out what I’m interested in and composed a note meant to appeal to that (I love those emails; indeed, that’s why my email address is public).

Everything else gets banned on first abuse. The following is just the last month’s list of people and companies who have been added to my Outlook blocked list. All of them have sent me something inappropriate at some point in the past 30 days. Many of them sent press releases; others just added me to a distribution list without asking. If their address gets harvested by spammers by being published here, so be it–turnabout is fair play.

From my perspective, this is an interesting  – though fully understandable – escalation of hostilities in the sometimes uneasy relationship between PR and editor. Understandable, because nobody likes to be spammed: Off-the-shelf “media databases” and “journalist lists” combined with inexperienced or over-zealous PRs naturally exposes editors to torrents of unsolicited email. Inevitably, a high percentage of this will be rejected as “junk”. On the one hand, I can really sympathise with the editor on the receiving end of a seemingly endless stream of dull, irrelevant or badly written press releases. But on the other, I think there has to be a little understanding that effective PR does sometimes require us to “chance our arm” a little. Being banished from the land of credibility on your first offence does seem a bit harsh. However, it does also underline the need for PR companies to build and maintain their own databases of contacts rather than rely on bought-in third party products. Journalists are taught to “Do You Own Research”. I don’t think it is unreasonable for journalists to expect the same courtesy from PR companies.

Blu-Ray: Plenty of Thunder & Lightning, No Rainmaker

January 26, 2008
By Bob SnyderWarner Bros. says its will back Sony’s format for storing high def movies and gave the Blu-Ray camp the urge to declare HD DVD “beaten.”

“We’ve heard that before,” insisted executives from HD DVD. But it was scary when they cancelled their own CES press conference because it followed too close on the heels of the Warner announcement. If Blu-Ray wins (or HD DVD, for that matter), the question will not be whether or not one group or another had another more thunder or lightning. The real question is whether either camp could ever be a Rainmaker.

With Apple, Amazon, NetFlix, Cisco, Microsoft and others push downloadable content, with cable and phone companies flogging on-demand, all day/all night HD, with I.T. companies pushing on-line storage and new form factors, the DVD business is looking as promising as the last Dodo bird. JVC, for one example, showed a flat-screenTV at CES that allows users to simply insert an iPod to watch video content. So any slim media player can become an alternative to digital video discs. And Denon, for another example, is building iPod docks into its AVRs like Altec, third example, is doing for loudspeakers. Content is going to jump full-blown into on-line delivery. Any and every device with an IP connection will be content-ready.

Now we’ve often talked a lot to AV integrators about “content’ and how they must get into “content.” Much of the time, we get dull, flat looks. The same look you’d get from a desert nomad when you tell him the future is “fish.” And who can blame them? How do you get your head around the cloud, the cumulus of cognition that’s content?

The opportunity, as we see it, is for integrators to understand the new world of content and how it can be streamed, downloaded and re-formatted across networks and devices. The next gen integrator will show customers what content is available and access to that content can improve their business, their organization.  We will be the Sherpa leading organizations up the Everest of content, their guide to finding new Managed Service Providers (yes, even software becomes content in the New World), and their trailblazer to profitable paths of Web 2.0 (and 3.0) opportunities.

In the Old World, we showed companies and organizations how to hook up Audio and Video.  In the New World, we’ll be compelled to help them to throw away DVDs.