Would unsolicited family newsletters be considered spam?

One of the nice things about most digital services is the opt-in feature. If I want to subscribe to a certain newsfeed, newsletter or service of some sort, I can simply sign up and, bingo, the content is pushed to my e-mail address.

Sadly, though, the ‘opt-in’ rule apparently doesn’t apply to family newsletters, which seem to 5492855 proliferate around the holiday season. Do you get these things? Typically, they’re written (very poorly, I might add) by a distant cousin, niece or great aunt twice removed. And, they contain all sorts of personal information about the sender’s family: Little Eddie’s soccer team went undefeated. Ann is an honor roll student at the local junior high. Peggy Sue’s impacted molar has to be extracted. And, thank goodness, the newsletter’s author just adores those Friday night bridge matches with the neighbors.

Excuse me, but did I opt-in for this family news? And, do I really need to know that Cousin Fran’s little boy is suffering from a ruthless toe fungus that simply won’t go away?

So, here’s the first of a few wishes for the New Year: those of you who painstakingly write and distribute newsletter updates to friends and family alike, think about an opt-in direct response card with the next one. Give me the opportunity to decide whether I am indeed interested in learning the latest news about Madison’s throat and ear infection. The distant family relationship you save may be your own.

5 thoughts on “Would unsolicited family newsletters be considered spam?

  1. Bah, humbug! I look forward to reading friends’ Christmas letters (after all of the craziness of the season has slowed down). The great thing about them is that you don’t have to read them if you don’t want to. Personally, I think that it’s a great tradition. I have all of them in the “Frank Family” Christmas memory book (which is the only keepsake that our family has kept up with over the years). Merry Christmas!

  2. Holiday letters don’t need an opt-in. They’re similar to TV and Radio, which can be turned off or on; the letters can be read… or tossed.

  3. I am a notorious holiday letter writer. This is because it’s the only time every year I contact these people! I wonder why they are a must-do, if the relationships aren’t even important to warrant any other kind of contact. I love the opt-in idea… am going to try it this year! I bet I get over 2% response (because I will be including pictures of the dog).
    Michelle Edelman is director of strategic planning at NYCA, a full-service marketing agency that grows businesses with inspired ideas. To find out how NYCA can grow your business, log on to http://www.nyca.com.

  4. I personally enjoy reading and catching up with those family newsletters. And isn’t that a form of stewardship — A public relations staple.