30 March 2009

John Aravosis Is Just Not That Into You

If you're a PR flack, that is.

Seems John has a bit of an email firehose problem, and he's starting to resent it:
I get hundreds of emails a day. Far too many of them garbage like this from people who have added me to their email list without my permission. Then they send me crap. I'm not writing this to whine about my bad emails, I'm trying to make a larger point. Email is a critical part of the day to day work for many of us. The volume of email we are receiving keeps growing. And for many of us, it passed a tipping point, beyond which we are now losing emails from people, not even seeing them as they come in, because of the velocity of traffic hitting our in-box.

And crap like this isn't helping. Actually, crap like this is the problem. I already have a spam filter that catches all of my spam. This crap is what's ruining my in-box.
And he concludes:
If you're sending the same email to fewer than five people, it's not junk.

If you're sending the same email to five or more people, it's probably junk.
It's an interesting rule of thumb. And while one man's junk is another man's priority, it's probably the truth.

There's no easy solution to John's problem - we all get more email than we want, and just when you think you've found the fix someone finds a way around it. And this diatribe won't stop the PR flacks and other goobers from assaulting his inbox - because frankly, they don't really read his blog. They just know he's a big-time political blogger with regular access to the President's communications team and a bunch of big wigs on Capitol Hill, and a lot of other blogs link to his. They just want John to cut and paste whatever they're sending him and post it on his blog. For free.

John can't just stop using email like some of the social media "gliterati" keep saying they have, over and over again, sometimes via email. For those of us in the real world, and who depend on communicating with people other than our closest techno-geek pals, email is the communications vehicle of necessity.

There are a couple of things John could do - for example, he could start actually following the people he cares about on Twitter - he's currently not following anyone and seems to be using Twitter like it's just another RSS feed. By being selective about who he's following, he can accept direct messages from them (getting an alert in his email essentially "validating" the sender) and send them back. He could also get a fairly interesting stream of content - sure, there's a lot of "brushing my teeth" tweets but also some useful breaking news.

Or he could continue to write about his email problem and develop a reputation among Congressional offices as a bit of a snob. Of course, John isn't a snob at all - he's trying to do his job and he's expressing the same frustrations many of us feel - but you see, there are so many people politics and in PR whose egos are bruised far too easily. Last week Robert Scoble (if you know tech business and/or tech PR you've heard of him but if you don't you haven't) unleashed his inner diva just a bit on a podcast about how he hates lousy email pitches and PR flacks let him have it, with one notable exception. I can say this - I don't think "you suck" is the most constructive piece of advice, but it should make us review what we're doing.

Personally I go to Susan Getgood first when I'm thinking about this stuff. Her latest on the topic is here. She's said before that we tend to pitch things that are our client's passion but the bloggers' distraction. So we shouldn't get surprised when most bloggers react this way. She's right.

And I'm going to recommend the "Aravosis Rule" to my social media team. I've always recommended against blast emailing anyone. But this is my "validating third party" for my 3R's post a while back. It's hard to make the case why John should care about something if you're just blasting it out to everyone.

If you want space on John's blog, it's really easy to get it - buy an ad. Make it compelling enough for people to click on it and go to the site you want them to, or put enough info in the ad to prompt action right there. John has been called a lot of things, but he's not the trained monkey of PR flacks.


Susan Getgood said...

"Our client's passion but the bloggers' distraction" - very nice.

I like the rule of 5 very much. One man's spam may be another's breakfast. But... it is still spam.

David said...

passion/distraction: Your idea.

Susan Getgood said...

Well, I don't remember saying it nearly as well. :-)