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Firing Spamming

December 10, 2012

A while ago, in conversation, it came that social networks sometimes cause diarrhea of the mouth. It happens to the best of us… which is why Google even gave us a math equation to solve at particular times of the night.

Which is why a company posting about why it fired its PR agency doesn’t feel particularly surprising, even if it is in bad taste. Someone had to do it and make an example of themselves.

A company has a bunch of people overseeing things just to ensure that the wrong message does not go out. Which is also why you hire a PR agency, a communications consultant, a brand consultant and a whole bunch of other people.

So, now I”m wondering, which of these consultants said it was a good idea for the brand to go out and air their dirty laundry in public? More, start a witch hunt. I guess they did not have anyone to advise them against such a thing since they fired the very people who would have advised them against it.

Now, the company is getting a lot of ‘kudos’ for their move. Mostly by people who are tired of spam from various companies giving them various offers.

These are common people. They perhaps do not understand the difference between marketing and PR communication strategies. Which is why it could also be excused that the one person who started this ball rolling – the guy who viewed a couple of emails asking him to review tech apps for his blog – was ignorant about this kind of ‘spam’.

What is not excusable is that the company would want to take such a step in public.

The very company in question has sent me ‘offers’ and coupons and such. We live in a world of emails. There are probably more emails than the population of the entire world. I simply mark it as spam or delete it or better, try to unsubscribe.

As a reporter, your content of spam tends to be higher. You log onto all those websites that do require you to log in. You constantly research and sign up  for newsletters that seem interesting on a slow 3 PM of a summer afternoon. And you are way to lazy to unsubscribe. Hell! I subscribed to newsletters from Motley Fool once and took me a year to unsubscribe even though I stopped reading them a month after.

Now, if I complained about all those people who were sending me mails, there could be several agencies that could get into trouble. Email marketing is a part of the world we live in. And when it comes to PR, I do understand that it is required to reach out to several people to tell them about your client. That’s what you are hired for. That’s what you get paid for. Try telling your client that the reporter considers your mail about the company spam and so you can’t reach out to them. You definitely will get fired.

So why on earth did this company fire their PR agency over a couple of so called spam emails? I’m sure they’ve received plenty of complaints about the spam they generate. Two mails is enough to get an agency fired publicly? Of course, that also means the company opened themselves up to trial by the public.

Of all the people congratulating the company on such a step, how many know the difference between email marketing and PR? How many of you have gotten a mail from a PR agency asking you to try out a company’s new products ‘just for fun’?

That is reserved for the media, who have every right to ask the PR agency to buzz off, and often do. That’s the give and take between the media and the PR agency.

But in this case, seems to me that the agency got fired for getting a little too enthusiastic about their jobs. And Mr. Guy-Who-Complained, two emails do not constitute spam. And if you don’t write about such things in the first place, why did this company invite you for a trial in the first place and why did they share your private information with a third party?

We learn to live through spam in this world – online and offline.

That’s why there are spam filters. Learn to use them.

Peacefully.

Edit: So I went back and tried to think again about WHY these emails are such a big deal. I understand that the company has an anti-spamming policy, which is much appreciated. But isn’t firing someone publicly like this unethical? If you have such a strict policy, then the contact details need to be guarded equally well. All it requires for an email ID is for it to be written on some form somewhere to go viral. Which is why every company protects their data so carefully.

 

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