We will resume regular programming in my next post, but I had to write this one because it’s now more than 10 hours after receiving the email and I’m still thinking about it. I apologise for the clickbait-style title. I don’t write clickbait content, and I’m not starting now. This is also not a rant post – it’s a well-considered, logical talk I had with myself. There’s probably less tragedy and more comedy than my title had you believe. That was for comedic effect and to indulge my sense of humour (I did it for the lolz).
I feel like I have to share a fair bit of context for this occurrence to make sense. So here goes:
I’m not a blogger. I have never claimed to be a blogger, I don’t earn income from my blog, and I don’t blog as my full-time job. Having said this, I belong to a few Facebook groups that were started by bloggers for bloggers. I like feeling as though I’m part of the community, but I know that there are amazing bloggers in the Eastern Cape (where I’m from) and in South Africa.
A good few months ago, I saw a post in one of these blogger Facebook groups that someone (I seem to remember that she works at or owns a PR firm) had started a database to collect information from bloggers (their name, surname, location, email address, blog name and URL, and blog niche/topics). I filled my information in, as I believed that the person who had started the database is in contact with other PR firms and hoped to distribute this database to those PR firms. This is obviously in an effort to help bloggers connect with PR firms, and by extension, the clients of these PR firms – ie brands. A noble pursuit and one I strongly believe in.
That’s the context.
My Experience with PR Firms – The Story Thus Far
Over the last few months, I have received a handful (really not many) emails from PR firms about very, very random topics. That I don’t mind because there’s just someone at the other end diligently doing their job. I usually handle it by emailing the person back and asking them to remove me from their list, as I don’t work in the press, I have no press contacts and, while I appreciate the interesting information in my inbox, what they’re sending won’t go any further than me (and it won’t even reach my blog, as the topics don’t approach anything near what I write about).
This week, I received one such email from a PR firm with a press release about something that doesn’t vaguely relate to a niche that my blog covers (if they’d looked at the database properly, they’d know not to email me this particular press release). I emailed the person back and politely requested that they remove me from their database (for aforementioned reasons, and I mentioned these in my email). My email was politely received and I was sent apologies – excellent so far. I meant no harm or rudeness with my email. I merely made a polite request.
Here’s where it gets interesting though. In the return email, this lovely person (who was, as mentioned, diligently doing their job) asked me what I did, because they mentioned that they had received my email address from a database of bloggers. Interesting, because my website URL is in this database that they had clearly looked through. (To state the obvious here, they could have looked at my website to save us both the time it took to write 2 emails.)
I replied and said that I run my own business and do web development and business website strategy work. No reply. Not a problem – now they know what Fox & Owl Media does. Polite exchange. No trouble at t’mill (bonus points if you read that in a Yorkshire accent).
The Email that Irritated Me (indirectly a PR email)
Here’s where it gets intriguing. A few hours later, I received another email, from someone at the same company. But this time the email was sent from their personal email address. This person was looking for a job. I granted the person the courtesy of reading their email, because it’s the least I can do. I have been in the position of sending emails with my CV attached. It’s not fun.
Back to the email. This person was looking for a job
1) in the PR industry at a PR agency;
2) as a senior account manager in a position to manage big brand accounts, and
3) the job should be in the Gauteng region.
I was pretty shocked at this email to say the least. Once my shock dissipated, I was left irritated.
If this person (who currently works at a PR firm managing some pretty impressive brands) had done 1.5 minutes of research, visited my website or done a rudimentary Google search, they would find out the following:
1) I’m not a PR agency,
2) I’m a company of one person and a dog – there’s no “senior” anything here, and
3) I’m nowhere near Gauteng (I have a Google Maps pin to prove it)
Now, to me, if you’re a PR person (or anybody) looking for a senior position in a company, you would know how to Internet, and you would know how to do basic Google searches. It also wouldn’t even have required a Google search, as the database they had consulted to find my email address had a clickable URL in it – so one click would have taken you straight to my blog, and from there, it’s pretty easy to navigate to the home page – where I tell you in the first section what it is that Fox & Owl Media does.
Because it’s painful to wait forever and a day for people to whom you have sent a CV to reply to your “I’m looking for a job” emails, I emailed back within 10 minutes, stating my 3 bullet points above. I wasn’t quite as spicy in my reply, but I stated those 3 facts.
Then I went on with my day, but I couldn’t put the thought down that someone who was hoping to make a good impression had failed so majestically because they didn’t take a few minutes to do some research.
I haven’t received a reply, and I’m quite certain that there will be no reply, because if it were me, I wouldn’t reply, as I would be hideously mortified.
I sincerely hope that the person gives a bit more thought, and puts a bit more research, into sending what was clearly a “copy-and-paste” email.
I don’t mention this anywhere online (but I will now). I did my Bachelor of Arts Honours degree (that’s a post-graduate degree) specialising in corporate communication, which is basically public relations and organisational communication. So I don’t speak from an uneducated perspective.
In the PR industry, there is no one-size-fits-all communication plan, so those impersonal, “spray and pray” emails don’t demonstrate what you want me to believe are high-level communication techniques that you’ve honed and sharpened from your years in a PR agency working on top-of-the-crop brand accounts.
Melissa De Klerk
Writer, Web Designer, Digital Media Strategist, Typophile, Inspiration Junkie, Yogi
Melissa is the owner and creative brain behind Fox & Owl Media. She loves creating content strategies and has considerable experience with Website Design and Brand Management.
You can contact her here, and find her on social media by clicking the links below.