Post 63: Is now the time to introduce second class email?

I’ve just discovered anonomi.com, a more than useful site that lets you set up a web contact form so strangers can send you email without knowing your email address.

The service is free and billed as an anti-spam measure, thanks in part for the need to complete a Captcha to send a message.

But the Captcha is interesting because it means you cannot be sent a mail as part of a legitimate bulk mail-out, which strikes me as a very interesting application for people like journalists who have lots of transient relationships with people who they may (sometimes) prefer not to have their email address.

It even makes me think that there could be a moment coming where people start to divide their address books into people to whom they will give their email address and funnel the rest into a ‘second class’ service like this. That way the people you do not particularly want to send you email can be funneled into a channel that will reach you but has a higher barrier to entry than normal email. This could, I think, help make them think twice about whether or not to send the email in the first place.

I can imagine setting up a new email address to catch anonomi traffic and providing only my anonomi page (anonomi.com/ssharwood) to certain classes of people.

It would certainly be an interesting statement to make to someone to funnel them into an anonomi kind of channel. Quite how one would do it is another matter altogether!

Post 62: I really must stop taking phone calls on my bicycle

I really must stop taking mobile phone calls on my bicycle.

There seems to be some weird variant on Murphy’s Law that means if I ride my bike and the phone rings, it is PR person trying to pitch to me.

A very odd conversation ensues in which the poor PR, quite reasonably, finds it hard to adjust their pitch into some nano-pitch suitable for bike-riding journos. I end up sending an email apologising for being so brusque and explaining that my panting breathlessness really was the result of being on a bicycle.

Best, from now on, just not to take the calls, I think.

Unless someone knows of a bike-mounted mobile hands free speakerphone gizmo.

Post 61: New contender for Worst Pitch Ever

There’s a new contender for Worst Pitch Ever.

To understand why, you need to know about Media Connect, a service hereabouts that lets journalists post requests for information to the subscriber base of PRs and vendors.

I use it a LOT.

Which is why this pitch, via email, is so poor.

PR: I just noticed your posting on media connect

(Which one? I usually have at least two on the go at any given time)

PR: I represent [a company known by an acronym] and thought that I might be able to supply you with some relevant info for your feature.

(Which company? Does she mean the financial services company or the telco that share the same initials?)

PR: Could you pls clarify what kind of info you’re after and let me know if you’re interested in the telecoms industry?

How can I clarify when I do not even know which feature she is referring to?

And why oh why is this whole thing predicated on me knowing something about her client? How am I supposed to magically know what it is her client does so I can make the suggestion to her about how they fit into the stories????

Silly me … I thought PR companies were supposed to know all about their clients and how to represent them to the media, not the other way around.

And don’t get me started on why they cannot understand our history with their clients? This question opens the can of worms, yet again, of why PR companies rely so much on individual knowledge and are yet to adopt a CRM-style approach to their interactions with media.

Post 60: A new use for Twitter?

One of my gigs is editing Techtarget.com.au, a network of five sites for IT pros on subjects like security and VoIP that interest them.

Like everyone else online, we are looking for traffic.

So today I fired up a new Twitter.com profile, twitter.com/techtargetanz. The plan is to post a link to our new stories on Twitter and see what happens as Google registers the presence of incoming links from third parites. We’ll promote it via our newsletters etc too. And I’ll whack up an extra feed here, even though that may be a bit zeitgeist-bruising.

It’s a small step into social media but it took five minutes from having the idea to being operational, perhaps because there is no tag cloud or folksonomy to master or anything like that!

That means any ROI will be insane, especially as it will give us the RSS feed we have lacked in minutes while our developers work away on other things.

Post 58: Oh the irony that William Gibson’s ‘Spook Country’ is being distributed here late!

William Gibson has a new book coming out, called Spook Country!

Hurrah!

Hang on. NOT Hurrah 😦

That’s because while Amazon will sell it as of August 7th for $UD17.13 (plus shipping), the book will not arrive in Australia until September 7th, for $AUD50. It’s not likely to be a huge seller, so it could take weeks to percolate into bookshops.

So … I could import it for less than I will pay if I wait for local release. And it seems that there will be an audio book release on August 7th too. So it will be a torrent well before the dead tree edition is released here and the web will be full of analysis and spoilers well before I get a chance to hold it in my hands.

Wake up, people! In a world with free information flow this dumb kind of distribution is ANTI-CONSUMER behaviour that will not make you any friends. (And looks very silly, too)

Post 57: The futility of surveys

PR: Hi Simon, our client the big important security vendor is releasing a report based on their new survey tomorrow

Want to know what happens next?
I have long since assumed that all security vendors allege largeness and importance and all emit reports on how bad things are on the security front as often as humanly possible to make sure the world knows that their software is, in fact, necessary and not some uncalled-for tax.
So the question “Would you like to interview them about it?” is utterly useless until one can see the actual report because knowing what is in the report  is more or less a pre-requisite for agreeing to an interview about it, because unless you know what’s on offer you cannot judge if the report is worth an interview – Duh!
It is also a silly question because there are  so many security reports that I have long since decided they can only be covered by letting the reader know that they are done by vendors to float their own boats. I devised a format to deal with this a while back called ‘SurveyWatch

Me: Oh just send the report and we’ll make up our mind once we have read it

Likelihood of coverage?

Small.

Post 56: Wow! Actual Social PR!

Kudos to my mate Tim in London.

While I hear heaps of stuff about Social PR and PR 2.0, he’s bloody well doing it. And doing it well, IMHO.

Google his client ‘Truphone‘ and you’ll see what I mean – the main hits are the company’s blog, press room, YouTube posts, Wikipedia entry and even a Slashdot mention.

He’s even set up a Facebook group which has 200+ members and very vibrant user chat.

He’s a one-man band. But I have never seen anything like this from a larger agency.

Kudos, Tim. Much kudos.

POSTSCRIPT 

Tim learned about this post via Truphone, who have set up a Google News Alert on their name. This meant he knew about it before I had a chance to email him about it.

Smart, smart, smart.

Now come on you Aussie PR lurkers – let us know if you have done anything similar?

Post 55: Dumbest ad ever? Or dumbest society ever?

We went to town yesterday and on every second billboard we saw was an ad for some kind of face cream that alleged that within the mandarin-sized jar on offer was the equivalent of ‘5000’ litres of water.

Yep. One jar. 5000 litres.

Just how did we arrive in a time and place where it is even possible for this kind of allegation to be made, never mind for it to be for sensible for professional communicators to make it.

Haven’t you people heard of snake oil? Or the laws of physics – because 5000 litres of water just cannot fit into a jar of cosmetics! And there ain’t no active ingredient in water, people!

Post 54: RFI

I am writing a feature on emerging data centre technologies. The kind of thing that may seem a bit ‘SciFi’ but is rapidly becoming real.

Drop me a line to simon at jargonmaster dot com if you have anything you think belongs in the story.