I'm not sure which of the nine circles of hell I was in the week before ad:tech San Francisco 2008, but it's the level where PR people spam bloggers with irrelevant e-mail pitches.
I'm a blogger. But, I've also been in PR for more than 25 years.
So, after my e-mail address was added to the confirmed press list for ad:tech San Francisco, I found it mildly ironic when I started receiving about half a dozen e-mail pitches a day from PR people.
When I kept getting more e-mail pitches that were not relevant, I realized I was the victim of PR spam.
Of the more than 40 e-mail pitches I received, only two of them were about subjects that I write about.
In the press and blogger room at ad:tech, I mentioned this to Kevin Lee, a columnist for ClickZ. He said that he'd received dozens of pitches, but, he added, "The sad thing is that only one or two pitches bothered to check my beat, and this resulted in me having to scan the pitches needlessly."
I also mentioned the PR spam to Anna Maria Virzi, the executive editor of ClickZ. She said she'd received at least 100 e-mail pitches on her remote devices before she stopped keeping track.
So, I can't really complain about the amount of PR spam I received. Instead, let me share three of the pitches that were sent to me:
One made two classic blunders. First, the subject line read: "Please consider our press release." Then, the press release was attached as a Microsoft docx file, which is difficult to open without Word 2007. Second, the person sent the e-mail to 66 journalists and bloggers. I know this because all of our e-mail addresses are in the "To" line.
Another sent an e-mail pitch that was too clever by half. The subject line read: "You are cordially invited to a funeral (wear something red)." Since the pitch came into my junk e-mail folder and didn't mention ad:tech in the subject line, I almost missed it. When I opened the e-mail, it told me, "Targeting is dead."
A third made me an offer I could refuse. The subject line read: "Win A Social Media Campaign." The e-mail went on to say: "As a member of the media, we wanted to give you a chance to win a Social Media Campaign from [REDACTED]!" I couldn't win, but a publication I'm associated with could win $50,000.
Needless to say, I didn't respond to any of these e-mail pitches.
When I was drafting this, Kevin Lee suggested that I edit out the fact that two of the more than 40 e-mail pitches I'd received were actually relevant. "If PR people discover that even 5% of their pitches generate blog posts, it will only encourage them to continue sending out more PR spam," he quipped.
Needless to say, I didn't respond to his suggestion, either.
I'm pretty sure there's another level of hell for bloggers who don't let facts get in the way of a good story.
Greg Jarboe is the president and cofounder of SEO-PR, a search engine optimization and PR firm. He also writes for the Search Engine Watch Blog.