In another example of extreme irony, marketers and PR firms are turning up the volume on "blogger relations", and filling the email inbox of bloggers with unsolicited–and usually irrelevant–pitches and press releases. I remember, yikes, 15 years ago when I was a magazine editor and my mailbox would be filled with media kits for products that had no conceivable relation to anything our magazine covered. It was obvious then how many PR folks wouldn’t bother to take the time to figure out whether we were a good target to pitch, much less build actual relations with editors. Now that apathetic throw-it-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach is being ported to the Web and expanded from journalists to bloggers, as Stowe Boyd discusses here.
It’s one thing when you hear marketers and PR folks spout all the right buzzwords for social media, and then trot out the same anti-social tactics they’ve always used. But it’s breathtaking when you see the same tactics practiced by companies that are supposed to be social media leaders. Case in point this week is Spoke, the Madonna of social media companies that seems to reinvent itself every business cycle. Once it was an enterprise relationship capital engine, once it was an open contact database, once it was a lead generation tool, and once it was all of the above plus a social network. Now Spoke seems to be focusing directly on positioning against LinkedIn to become the social network "Where Business People Connect". Forget the day-late dollar-short market laggard strategy. The marketing tactics for such a supposedly social company are what blow my mind.
Last week I got an unsolicited email from a Senior Marketing Director at Spoke telling me that Marketonomy had popped up in his search for influential blogs on social media, and because I’m such an authority, maybe my readers would be interested in hearing about a great new service from Spoke. (I’m tempted to name the marketer, but he’ll get enough grief as it is.) I put aside the fact that the unsolicited email was a thinly veiled attempt to get me to do something any cursory review of my actual blog would show I don’t do–pitch products. Instead, I let my curiousity drive: what is Spoke thinking in trying to position directly against LinkedIn and other existing business social networks?
So I sent an email back to the Senior Marketing Director at Spoke telling him that I don’t pitch products, but if he can tell me how Spoke is differentiating itself in the drive to become yet another business network, maybe there’d be something to blog about. Nothing. No response. No acknowledgement, no curt reply or decline to discuss. Which just about makes my head explode. Here’s a social networking company sending out PR spam, and then NOT EVEN ABLE TO RESPOND???? What did this Senior Marketing Director expect in sending an email? That I would be as mindless and lazy as he apparently was and just cut and paste Spoke’s Fantastic New Service into my blog because that’s what influential and authoritative bloggers do to earn the interest of their readers?
I guess the PR 2.0 workshops are focusing more on how to build Blogger Relations services with the science of spam than on the repercussions of blindly pitching the social media universe. Let’s see how long it takes for this to show up on their search radar. Maybe that’s what it takes to get a response.