Wired is the bible of the tech-smart set, and it stands to reason that PR pros pitching the publication would be as savvy as its readership. So when the magazine's editor Chris Anderson publicly blacklisted more than 300 PR pros for sending him unwanted pitches via e-mail, it was an embarrassment all around.
While the cacophony of those who supported Anderson are castigating the guilty parties as unrepentant spammers, some of those on the blacklist argue that Anderson's e-mail address was part of a targeted pitch list they had purchased, so the message was relevant, even if the recipient didn't think so.
This incident raises the question of who is responsible for the media lists that are supposedly targeted for maximum effectiveness. The list providers themselves, surely, stake their entire business on providing maximum results to clients. But they're not the ones deciding what message is sent to those lists.
PR pros who buy and use these lists are the ones who ultimately will be putting their names on the final e-mails, and it would save a lot of trouble for everyone if these lists were effectively vetted before put to use. Using the "but your name was on a list" defense is unlikely to gain any sympathy from harried journalists who may have no idea they are on the list or how they got there.
However, media outlets are not lessening the number of unfocused pitches when they create such unhelpful "contact us" sections on their Web sites. Wired's, for instance, has extensive contact information listed for ad sales reps, but none at all for the editorial team. One could argue that Anderson is the easiest to contact, as his e-mail address is easily accessible on his blog. Ensuring pitches are more targeted requires changes from both sides.