Vocus PR is Killing Me
Originally uploaded by sogrady
“Imagine you are a PR practitioner who has been tasked by your company with the challenge of creating buzz in the blogo-sphere to promote a new product launch. So you create a list of bloggers who have written about your company’s industry and prepare your pitch, and make sure to add links to additional information that would help them write a story about your company’s new product. Within two hours of sending your e-mail, you see that five bloggers have picked up your story. You click on the first story and are horrified to see that the blogger has completely trashed your company for ‘spamming’ them. Clicking on the others, you see that most other bloggers have responded similarly, and several have even posted copies of your pitch e-mail, criticizing both you and your company. Within 24-hours, your attempt to reach out to the blogosphere has turned into an utter failure.
Does this situation seem uncommon? Guess again. Thousands of PR pros who have been successful getting their companies covered in traditional media have encountered numerous obstacles when dealing with bloggers.” – Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations, Vocus (PDF link)
Irony, thy name is Vocus. For the very same company authoring the above is the same that has made PR pitches the bane of my existence. Nor am I the only one so unfortunately afflicted; other bloggers like Volker Weber and Friend of RedMonk Josh Hallett have previously explained, Vocus is the originator of a substantial volume of PR spam. For many of us.
Among the entities who’ve put me on their Vocus email blast list are the Emergency Medical Associates, U.S. India Business Alliance, Welsh Assembly Government and the pictured Drug Information Association. If you’re wondering what I – a software industry analyst – has to do with any of the above, well, that makes two of us. The truth is that I could care less about any of them. Nor am I particularly interested in hearing what’s up with Jobfox, the City of St Petersburg Florida, or The World Electronics Expo – others that have chosen to Vocus-spam me in recent weeks.
Just opt-out, you say? If only it were that simple. Vocus is careful to ensure that you can, in fact, opt-out. Presumably because they’d prefer not to be litigated. But of course you can only opt-out of the list that spammed you. They decline to provide any mechanism – that any of us can find, anyway – to opt out of Vocus entirely. So instead those of us at sea in Vocus spam are required to click a link at the bottom of each incoming mail and opt-out individually. Which is clearly less than scalable. Nor particularly effective; I’ve opted out of the Abderdeen Group’s missives at least twice, and still they find their way to my Inbox.
The simple fix to this problem would be to filter everything coming from Vocus period by either bouncing it or deleting it. But sadly, this is not at present an option, because there are a few RedMonk clients that use the service. And automagically deleting client email – even that intended as marketing – is, I’m told, not a terribly strong idea.
The question then is what to do?
Ideally, reputable companies would either decline to use Vocus and/or move away from them: at which point I could simply blacklist their mail and move on with my life. But that’s not likely to happen any time soon, so for those of you that have a.) suffered from the Vocus spam problem or b.) work in the PR industry, I’m open to any suggestions you might have.
Because the situation at present is untenable.