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Preview: Comments on: PR, E-Mail, Social Media: FAIL

Comments on: PR, E-Mail, Social Media: FAIL

A sloppy PR pitch leads to bad e-mail behavior and a meltdown of sorts. But some folks stand firm and do what's right.



Tue, 25 Aug 2009 14:20 EDT

Diane, Sorry. The formatting got screwed up between the apology in the update and my "last word." The not understanding the Reply-to-All bit was actually written by me, not someone at Brody PR. --Ken


Fri, 21 Aug 2009 18:35 EDT

Hi Ken, Your posts and the posts of others gave me some valuable feedback. I never seemed to have time to start a blog but I thought this mishap inspired me. I have summarized some of the things I learned here, Any feedback you have would be appreciated. Beth Brody


Fri, 21 Aug 2009 12:05 EDT

Ken: Thanks for taking the high road on this pointless debacle. We see this happen at least once a year, but still people feel compelled to act rude online. They all could have hit Reply, but they consciously hit Reply to all just to flex their social media muscle. Read my take on it. Social media "gurus" and bloggers are egotistical jerks


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 20:27 EDT

Then again, some of them are "social-media experts" and we all know that's a pretty low bar. Wow. Way to throw away your moral high ground.

By: diana.nasello

Thu, 20 Aug 2009 17:08 EDT

DId that apology actually blame the people who hit reply all? Annoying yes but don't pretend you're the innocent victim in this. I personally NEVER BCC anyone and personalize every announcement I send out (which is why it takes me a whole day to get some news out but no one has ever complained about my emails).


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 16:56 EDT

I've been in and around this business a long time, so I know that indiscriminate PR mailings have been the rule, rather than the exception, since flackery first began. In fact, they are the mother of all spam. But, I'm totally in the dark about how and why they would use a BCC rather than a CC to send spam so that it wouldn't look like spam. Is this some kind of eclectic industry trick, or is there a web article (like for homegrown terrorists wanting to make a bomb) that can tell me how it works.


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 16:02 EDT

Surprising, yes? I am continually surprised at how many people don't know what a BCC is. I volunteer for a women's group and my college girls can't remember... until I told them that BCC stands for "Blind Carbon Copy." Maybe we should make it more modern... "To" "Copy" "For press releases when you send out a giant mass email"


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 15:31 EDT

It's unfortunate that so-called "experts" are contributing to the problem. Accidental or not, as marketing professionals, we must be thorough in our communication skills, written and verbal. This includes methods of electronic media. Email, twitter posts, facebook comments, etc all fall within the same guidelines of professional communication. To be so careless as to publicize an email group in that manner. Our agency believes firmly that individualized communication is superior to anything. While it may be a bit slower to reach everyone, it's the personalized attention and direct communication that best develops relationships; both with clients as well as the media and general public. Don't forget about the details. Hastiness means sloppiness, and in an age where almost anyone can consider themselves an "expert", one foul-up like this can be to the detriment of the company.


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 15:05 EDT

ouch! That kinda stings. I would be a little ashamed if this post were about me and my business. When I worked in sales, people would spam me without using the BCC field and I would take all their clients email addresses. I figured it was the least I could do. If I were asking a group of experts to contribute to my book, I would likely approach them individually in an effort to make it more personal. I don't know much but I think that is pretty basic.


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 14:15 EDT

... or maybe this is just part of a "any marketing is good marketing" type train of thought?


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 13:00 EDT

I have to admit that this is hilarious. I've seen a mail server brought to its knees by a CC/Reply All fiasco before. With probably 30 replies (times over 1,000 recipients). I don't understand AT ALL why anyone would hit Reply to All. That almost seems like a bigger screw-up than the BCC/CC slip up.


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 12:41 EDT

Sounds like they should be using a proper email marketing solution, when do people understand that Outlook just doesnt work... Next time if they were using Gmail they have a 5 second undo option for any emails sent accidently.


Thu, 20 Aug 2009 11:37 EDT

Maybe they did "reply all" because they suspected they were on a generic list and wanted to expose the efforts of Brody PR to the fullest. Haven't we gone over these lessons time and time again? Don't treat the press or experts as a group. They are individuals, with individual opinions and agendas. And wasting our time on this kind of nonsense is what creates discord between agencies and everyone else.

By: akatcher

Thu, 20 Aug 2009 09:47 EDT

Thanks for a spot on post about my worst pet peeve!


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 16:34 EDT

nickbalkin: i see what you did there. with the sarcasm. good one buddy. everyone reading this thread read your comment and we all agreed it was so funny. i know this because we just had a conference call to discuss it.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 16:33 EDT

Can you forward me a copy of the email.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:49 EDT

I've done this before and I'll do it again... check out this blog post. I think it sums up our need to be cautious with social media.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:41 EDT

I think you may all have it wrong. I did not receive the offending email, not my line of work, but c'mon, how many mentions will the offending (not named) party get for this flub both on and offline, and in social media and... and... Everyone all know there is no such thing as bad... well like I said. This may just be the epitome of the meaning of the lines spoken by Chris Guest as David St. Hubbins in Spinal Tap when he said, "It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever." Just saying,


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:34 EDT


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:24 EDT

An apology from Brody PR - I created a list of social media experts who might be interested in reviewing a new guide to social media for small biz. I inadvertently put the list name in the cc: box, rather than the bcc: box. A few folks must have hit the "reply all" button, rather than clicking on the "unsubscribe link" at the bottom, which started a stream of spam. Please accept my personal apology, albeit a little late in the day, since I was trying to remove everyone who wanted to be unsubscribed from the list immediately.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:13 EDT

Not only is there the sound of crickets on the BrodyPR web site about this mess, the site itself appears to have been done 6 years ago (copyright 2003)!


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 15:01 EDT

Mail Merge? What about actually taking the time to write a customized pitch for a journalist or blogger by actually reading what they write and thinking about what they might be interested in. Just an idea. - A PR professional who does just that #saveemail


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:55 EDT

Ken - As a silent recipient, sifting through 27 replies was inbox train wreck. But Brody is an exception to the rule of PR people. How do I know? As you know, Richard Laermer and I started Bad Pitch blog three years ago to take our own industry to task...from the inside. There were people "who did the right thing." I think your reference can be expanded to include the scores of PR people that do not use bcc, or email marketing software. Not to mention those PR people that have never been put onto editorial black lists. PR people hate seeing these things as much as editors do. But unlike some folks above, I will not apologize on behalf of my industry. I will point out the industry is a heck of a lot bigger than the Brody's of the world. And some of us are even trying to help prevent these train wrecks.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:48 EDT

I was on the receiving end of one of these reply all dramas (which also originated with a PR firm) and it went on for WEEKS, despite all the pleas to STOP REPLYING ALL! In retrospect, it was rather comical, but at the time, each new message that popped up made me want to scream. So good luck with that! And I promise not all PR people practice mass emailing techniques. It boggles the mind that after all this time and all the complaints, blog posts and blacklists, there are still PR folks out there who do this. Sigh.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:47 EDT

The problem with social media is it requires "SocialSmarts" which, sadly, too many people don't have or don't use. And, technology makes it so much easier to stick our virtual feet in our own mouth -- broadly, instantaneously, and publicly. As the old adage says, "measure twice, 'send' once." - Corinne (President, SocialSmarts )


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:42 EDT

Ken, Thanks for the props. It's much appreciated. (Though, to tell the truth, I did reply all twice -- once to apologize on behalf of the PR industry; and second to remind those who are replying to all that I'm sure their emails were being harvested -- and not for good.) One good thing about the PR and media relations business is the relatively low barrier to entry -- so solid, smart pros can get a start without a huge investment. That's also a bad thing as any one can do it -- regardless of skill. I don't even get while people were replying to all when, as far as I know, it's not a default option. Anyway, again, I'm sorry on behalf of the PR industry and do know that most of the pros out there do good work. Take care, -Mike

By: bmcwilliams

Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:39 EDT

I just don't get how PR pros still haven't grasped the fine art of the mail merge. Individual emails - no risk of the dreaded "reply all" - I love this article, because hopefully other publicists read it and wise up. That way when I call after sending my own email, I'll be met with a jovial attitude instead of a surly backhand!


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:13 EDT

Hi, I have to get after you about taking time to write this; who cares? Look, people do this every day. Complaining about it is a waste of time. You should complain about racism on the Internet and Cyberstalking too. That's a better use of this space.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 14:01 EDT

i feel like what started as just bad PR transformed into a fascinating sociological case study on group dynamics + online behavior.


Wed, 19 Aug 2009 13:36 EDT

Your email made me laugh out loud. I was so torn as to whether I should reply early on to note the irony or just to remain silent. Thanks for documenting this with the post.