Lazy PR People, or Improper E-mail Appends?

Nov 16, 2007 11:50 PM  By

Sometimes I groan when a press release comes across my inbox. But I’m not about to go all Chris Anderson on the public relations people who send me things of no relevance to Multichannel Merchant or Chief Marketer.

Nope. No need to take down the potentially innocent in an arrogant blaze of glory, like Anderson, editor of Wired, did on his blog. Anderson posted the names of all the, “Lazy flacks [who] send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can’t be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they’re pitching.”

Because when I tested this theory of my cluttered inbox with Austin Bliss, president of e-mail service provider FreshAddress, he confirmed that most likely I’m right.

These are my third and fourth publications I’ve worked for, under four company names, and on my fourth e-mail address, since coming to 11 Riverbend Drive S., Stamford, CT, 06907 in February 2000. I stopped writing about the trucking industry in 2003, and promotion marketing in 2005.

But the press releases that I thought would stop coming with every e-mail address change keep on coming, and I have to politely (most of the time, anyway) tell these PR people to remove me from their lists.

It’s obvious these public relations folk miss me terribly. And with an e-mail append, they matched my name and snail address to my new e-mail.

But Bliss says these marketers broke a Cardinal rule: They located me, but they didn’t find out if I’m really the person they want to contact.

“E-mail appending is an effective way to get someone’s e-mail address, but it must be used responsibly,” Bliss told me. “And even the most careful e-mail append can result in complaints if the e-mail message is not of interest to the recipient. That is why it is critical to make sure your database is accurate, and your messages are relevant.”

So, if you’re going to do an e-mail append, make sure you do a thorough job. Don’t just match the names and physical addresses, make sure the match you came up with is still the right contact for your offer or message.

Bliss says that beyond simple compliance, best practice e-mail appending would insist that:

  • The list to append is current customers. In general, lists from seven years ago, prospect lists, voter lists, etc. should not be appended.
  • The e-mail addresses appended should have previously opted in to third-party marketing. And the vendor should be able to provide the information source and registration date, if requested.
  • An e-mail message, often called a permission message, is sent by the e-mail append vendor to confirm all of the above. This message should clearly state that the recipient is about to be added to an e-mail list and offer an up-front opportunity to opt-out. The message should not contain advertising or anything that distracts from its primary purpose.
  • The vendor should run all required suppressions, including FCC Wireless Domains and the company’s own opt-out list. And there may be other optional suppressions recommended for the industry.

So there you go, your quick tip on how to keep your e-mail address for showing up on an angry editor’s blog.