More Journalists Prefer Bulk Email Than Personalized? Huh?

Last week saw the launch of a campaign entitled “An Inconvenient PR Truth,” aimed at trying to weed-out some of the black sheep in the PR family.

Many of us in the profession have been arguing for similar practices to those advocated there for a while. While the campaign’s approach raised my hackles somewhat, the motives stated seem reasonable on the face of things.

This post isn’t about the broader campaign though.

Buried deep in a slide deck supporting the campaign was a slide about the way journalists prefer to receive “press release emails” (a term that has me tasting bile somewhat, but moving on…).

Preference for how press release emails are addressed

Let’s set aside for a second the advisability of using a sample of 100 respondents to generalize about an entire worldwide industry (although, with the ever-shrinking number of journalists out there nowadays, it might actually be representative…). I’d like to focus for a second on the specific assertion of this slide.

I quote:

“Three quarters of Recipients are happy to receive press release emails on a bulk email basis (or have no preference either way).”

This slide says that 75% of journalists are ok with receiving untailored bulk pitches.

Say whaaaaat?!

To me, this goes against every instinct I have when it comes to pitching. It essentially says that spam is ok.┬áNote that while the first thing the “Inconvenient PR Truth” campaign asks for is for PR pros to ask permission to pitch journalists, that’s not tied in any way to this question in the survey. Without any mention of permission-based pitching, it offers data suggesting that three quarters of journalists are ok with spam pitches.

Time and time again, journalists and PR practitioners alike have railed against the prevalence of untailored spam pitches. I’ve written about spam pitches plenty of times here (in fact given the rapidly increasing number of pitches I receive, I have even posted tips for people pitching me). I have to call “BS” on any claim that only 25% of journalists want pitches tailored to them.

This data seems wrong to me. In fact, it’s even contrary to the goals of the campaign. It also makes me question the accuracy of other potentially useful data in the survey (for example the information on the types of releases journalists prefer not to receive).

Does this seem right to you?

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.