Over the past couple of years something has changed. I’m on the receiving end of daily press releases, pitches, data dumps and studies. I probably receive 50 or more emails every day simply pitching stories, product announcements, press releases and other promotional email.
It has become relentlessness. It wasn’t always like this; the whole thing seems to have intensified in the past year or two.
I previously tried to respond to every email I received from a PR person — what we me being a “nice guy” and all. But given that most of the emails I get are essentially, Dear [insert name] . . . generic copy . . . let me arrange an interview with my client, I’ve stopped responding unless I’m definitely interested or I recognize the person has taken the time to address me as an individual.
If I don’t respond, often what happens next is a follow-up email: “Just making sure you saw my previous email.” And in the more recent past I’m starting to get phone calls from people. In other words, many people are “escalating” with the phone because they think their emails aren’t being seen or are being ignored — they’re right.
I feel sympathy for these folks who are expected to justify their fees by producing “clips” and “mentions.” Many seem increasingly under pressure, sometimes even desperate.
All this is a function of too many companies, with similar marketing and PR strategies, and too much overall noise in the marketplace. (Everybody now has a quarterly report or index they’re pushing.) It’s very difficult to tell companies apart from their pitches and claims. Even after talking to them it may still be tough to tell them apart (see graphic above).
This is also a challenge from a vendor or biz dev point of view. Who should we work with?
Recently I experienced this at the IAB Leadership meeting in Phoenix: lots of programmatic vendors and data providers making similar or nearly identical claims. Of course when one can truly get under the hood or see a product in action differences become apparent. But I’m not often in that situation.
As an aside, this is what SMBs confront too with all the competing sales claims and pitches they’re exposed to.
I don’t have a good solution or set of recommendations for the problems I’m describing, except that PR folks should stop the “shotgun” approach often taken. But breaking through all the noise is getting more and more difficult for everyone in the system: the client companies, their reps, analysts and tech journalists.