Extending the debate about PR spam

Earlier this week, I hosted a CommsChat discussion via Twitter around the topic of “What should you do to stop PR spam?”, a topic I’ve written about quite a bit over the past few years and helped focus debate. The discussion took place on TweetChat, a service that lets you engage in real-time online conversation around a hashtag, in this case #commschat.

Started by Adam Vincenzini and Emily Cagle, two UK-based PR pros, CommsChat looks at all aspects of communication: PR, traditional and social media, journalism, blogging, marketing and more. The weekly one-hour chats tend to attract scores of participants from both sides of the Atlantic, and this one was no different.

As the host of the November 8 discussion, I wanted to see what participants would say to these specific points:

  • What is PR spam and do we agree that it’s a huge problem in the profession?
  • What do you do with your acquired data from Cision or Vocus?
  • In September, the CIPR published a charter on media spamming that, among other things, aims to help raise ethical standards in UK business practices regarding email use; and the PRSA runs professional development seminars in the US focused on best practices in media relations. How useful or effective are such initiatives by our professional associations?
  • What does best practice look like and how do you guide your colleagues?

Over the course of the hour, some lively discussion ensued. It was hard to keep up with much of it and impossible to do that for every tweet – you really do need to pay close attention to what’s happening – so it’s excellent that Adam and Emily enabled a full transcript of the complete discussion to be available to view and download from Scribd (and it’s embedded in this post, below).

Did the discussion come to any clear conclusions, weighty or otherwise? No, not really, but it did provide an opportunity and an outlet for every participant to voice their opinions and so contribute to the continuing debate.

Reflecting on the discussion afterwards, I think the group as a whole acknowledged that each of us in the PR profession has a clear responsibility for our own behaviour and how we conduct ourselves. That includes how we reach out to others via email. There’s clearly a need for education and awareness-raising on best practice, what’s acceptable and what’s not, and ethical behaviours – areas our professional associations are taking a strong lead on. If the discussion served the purpose of getting more people to think about these topics, then it was worthwhile.

CommsChat Transcript 81110

The subject of PR spam is a complex topic, one that won’t be resolved soon. Last Monday’s Twitter discussion brought fresh attention to the topic – which continues in the next TweetChat on Monday November 15 when Adam Parker, CEO of RealWire and the driving force behind the An Inconvenient PR Truth campaign earlier this year, will host discussion on part two of this subject, this time focussing on spam in a social media context.

The discussion continues at 8pm GMT on Monday. Add your voice and make a difference.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Keith Trivitt

    Thanks for sharing this excellent compilation of industry thoughts and insight about attempts at eradicating PR spam. As you noted in your post, it’s an issue that is at the forefront of our professional development, advocacy and education efforts at PRSA, and something many of us throughout the organization think about and discuss quite often.

    I can’t tell you how exciting and encouraging it is to see that so many professionals care so deeply about eradicating the pervasiveness of PR spam and are doing so in a collaborative effort via a Tweet chat. For our profession to continue to evolve and enhance its strategic value to businesses and clients, it’s imperative that, as you note, each of us takes the responsibility upon ourselves and for our colleagues/agencies to educate ourselves about the detrimental effects PR spam have.

    I’m looking forward to reading through the transcript from this chat and gleaning some additional insight from several industry thought-leaders.

    @KeithTrivitt
    Associate Director of Public Relations
    Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)

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