Public Relations Spammers: You’re Doing It Wrong

I probably wouldn’t have noticed it in my inbox if I hadn’t read something about it from a friend and fellow blogger on Facebook. But I saw the first line as a preview in my Gmail, and I had to click on it because I knew the same message had been sent to a number of my friends. Let me just share with you the first paragraph:

Hello Christina, it was a pleasure meeting you recently at the networking event. It’s always great to get out to meet new people, exchange ideas and refer business among peers.  I’m sure you’re wading through your pile of business cards not sure who does what, so here is a recap of how we might able to help you.

Warm regards,
Paul *****

Of course, Paul ***** goes on to tell me about his agency’s book and newsletter, with a pitch to hire them to do PR for me. - Why yes, I got your spam. Of course I'd love to pay you to spam my potential customers and ruin my reputation for me!

In and of itself, it’s not unlike hundreds of other spammy press releases I receive and delete without opening. But this one made a fatal flaw in the opening. With a subject line that reads “Pleasure Meeting You the Other Day” and a first sentence referring to a vague “networking event” we supposedly met at, this pitch is based on a lie. I suppose there are many people who attend enough networking events to not remember everyone they met recently, but I haven’t been to such an event in months.

Did I mention that the email author is listed as “Alyson” despite this being signed by Paul? Since Alyson ***** is referred to as a “PR maven” in the pitch that follows, I would assume that they’re married, but they should realize how it looks when paul at insertagencynamehere dot com shows up as Alyson in the email headers.

So, Paul, you should revise your tactic. Change your subject line and remove any reference to having met the undisclosed recipients of your email blast. Spamming people is bad enough without lying to them on top of it. And you think you’re so good at public relations? What a joke.

When you do an email blast, especially when you’re targeting potential business to business clients, you don’t want to insult the intelligence of your recipients by lying to them. Especially when it is so easy to prove that it’s a lie. Lying in such a manner makes you no better than ED drug spammers.

And if your business is PR, email outreach is clearly part of the services you are pitching to potential clients. If you screw that up, why would anyone pay you to screw it up for them? This reflects badly on your image, and reputation is pretty much what PR exists for. You’re doing it wrong.

Update: I was just going through my spam folder, and I found an apology from Alyson in there:


It’s late Sunday night and I just got home to an InBox full of upset people who are wondering why they got an email titled “Pleasure Meeting You This Week” which came from my email and was signed from Paul *****.

Paul sent an email earlier this evening that was intended for 20 people he did indeed meet. It should have come from his email and to his small group, but he made a mistake in our email system and it went to my entire database, instead of the few intended.

I am so very sorry; Please accept my personal apology.


Alyson *****

So she fessed up to the mistake, but that doesn’t change the effect of what happened. That message was in my spam box. I wouldn’t have even noticed it if I hadn’t been cleaning it out on a regular basis to make sure important messages aren’t getting filtered improperly. The fact remains that an untold number of people received the same message as I did and were upset about the false premise that we’d met when we hadn’t. This is a PR nightmare for a PR agency.

The new moral of the story is to check, double check, and triple check before sending an email blast. Know how to use your email software. You’re one wrong click away from ruining your reputation.

This post originally appeared on in 2012.

Christina Gleason (973 Posts)

That’s me: Christina Gleason. I’m a professional copywriter, editor, and blogger. My company is called Phenomenal Content. (Hire me!) I'm a multiply disabled autistic woman doing my best in this world built for abled people. I’m a geek for grammar, fantasy, and select types of gaming, including Twitch Sings and Plants vs Zombies 2. I hate vegetables. I have an intense phone phobia, so I’ll happily conduct business over email or IM instead.

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