There are right ways and wrong ways to develop new business.
The right way is to first conduct deep research on a prospect organization, arrive at some sort of possible 'white space' opportunity and then 'ask' the prospect's permission to discuss the findings.
The wrong way is to spam the prospect. One of our clients, who leads communications for a global brand, says she is literally being deluged by spam pitches from myriad public relations firms. They're arriving in ever-increasing numbers, are 'inside out' in their approach (i.e. “We're a great agency and you'd be smart to hire us.”) and are actually counter-productive since they damage the firm's image and reputation.
I have the great fortune to serve on several boards populated by some of the best and brightest corporate communications chiefs in the world. I would never, ever allow my firm to blindly spam these individuals. To do so would violate a business relationship and, even more importantly to me, a personal friendship. That said, I've been able to win new business with some of my board peers but only after a long period of building mutual trust.
So, here's a heads-up to all the new business people at all the PR firms in the world. Stop spamming prospects. Step back and be more thoughtful in your approach and suggest solutions instead of pitching your incredible capabilities. My client will tell you those unsolicited mailers are going straight in her trash can, as is any chance of being considered for future assignments.
It's got to be brutally tough to work for a media property these days.
Newspapers and magazines are falling faster than the Mets' winning percentage and resumes from unemployed journalists are washing up on my desk like the flotsam and jetsam of some 19th century shipwreck.
Desperate survivors are doing anything and everything to make money for their ailing properties.
I'm typically inundated with any number of spam e-mails offering discounts on this magazine's conference or that trade publication's e-newsletter. And, whenever Peppercom is cited in some sort of awards or rankings issue, I receive unwanted solicitations from the cottage industries that surround the media like pilot fish around a shark.
I respect the fact that everyone has to earn a buck and put food on the table. But, I found this particular entreaty amazingly boorish. I'm neither interested in the 'award' nor in ordering a plaque for a mere $129 (plus $12 for shipping).
But, it's the fait accompli tone of the spam that set me off. It reflects poorly on the individual and the organization she represents.
There's a fine line between aggressive and obnoxious. And this communiqué crossed it.
Before I end, though, I wanted to let you know about a special offer: just post a comment on this particular RepMan blog and I'll send you an engraved plaque containing your comment. All you have to do is send me an e-mail to confirm your $129 purchase (and, guess what? You'll save $130 with our special 'Christmas in July' RepMan discount).
Despite the best-intentioned efforts of our crack IT Manager Kel Q., Russian spammers continue to fool our Anti-Spam Filtering Service by constantly changing their point of origin.
I'm routinely peppered with all sorts of Russian spam, which to the best of my limited Eastern European language skills, seems to be much the same as the crap I receive in English. Am I angry? Nyet. Am I interested in a ceasefire and possible rapprochement? Da.
Kel tells me that, even though he blocks these digital Russian ICBMs as soon as I forward them, some sort of nefarious Dr. Strangelove-like supercomputer immediately finds another way through our firewall.
So, in the tradition of Glasnost and Perestroika, I'd like to offer my Russian spammer friends some sort of SALT II-type arrangement: you stand down on the non-stop spam invasions and I'll find ways in which to highlight Messrs Putin, Gorbachev, Brenhzev and other legendary former and current Communists in my blogs. I'll bet there are plenty of positive image and reputation angles if one merely looks below the surface. For example:
– How about the impact on the image of shoes after Kruschev used his to pound a table at the U.N. and vow to bury capitalism?
– Or, how about one on Iceland's tourism trade in the immediate aftermath of the Reagan-Gorbachev tête-à-tête?
– What about one on Leon Trotsky? Was his assassination in Mexico City the precursor of that country's drug wars?
I'm open to a thaw in my virtual Cold War with Russian spammers. Comrades, let's tear down this virtual wall.