Gini Dietrich

Nine Communication Lessons from Hitting Reply All

By: Gini Dietrich | October 12, 2011 | 
137

Alright. It’s time to have a little chat, particularly if you’re in the PR profession.

If you read Gin and Topics last week (or follow the industry news), you’ll know a PR “professional” (I use that term loosely, which is why it’s in quotes) called Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess a really bad name (I can’t even bring myself to type it here; it’s bad).

The background follows.

The Bloggess received the following pitch from a PR professional.

“The Kardashian’s once again show they are right on trend, and this is on (sic) Mommy’s are all going to want to follow.”

Never mind the fact that it’s full of misspellings and horrific grammar mistakes (that, alone, would have made me go off my track), it doesn’t fit ANYTHING The Bloggess writes about.

She responded in her typical snarky way which, if you read her at all, you’d know is typical.

She received this response from the PR professional:

Hi there,
That wasn’t very nice. We send certain pitches out to people so they have the chance of getting more hits on their page. We’ll make note of this email in moving forward and remember if we have any advertising opportunities with any of our clients not to go through you.
Best of luck to you.

But the real meat comes when the VP of said PR firm hit reply all with The Bloggess on the email.

“What a f—ing b—-!”

I told you it was bad. Except he spelled it out.

It’s not even so bad that he hit reply all on accident and wrote that. We’ve all done that. I think reply all should die. I hate that tool in email. Hate.

What’s bad is his response when she responded to him.

HE ARGUED WITH HER.

He initiated debate and he wouldn’t back down or apologize. If you want to read the entire exchange, it’s on her blog (and it’s entertaining, while a bit disturbing).

Communication Lessons

How many times have we told clients it’s not good to engage in written debate? Heck, we’re COMMUNICATION professionals. We know better. And, one would think by the time you make VP, you know better.

But not this guy. Nooooo. He continued to make matters worse.

I’m certainly not taking sides here (OK, maybe a little), but I do think there are some lessons we can all learn in order to do our jobs better.

Lesson #1: Know your audience. Do not (I repeat, do NOT) send pitches to journalists, editors, bloggers, producers, or a pet if it’s not a fit.

Lesson #2: Spell check and re-read your emails before hitting send.

Lesson #3: As a PR professional, is your job really to send pitches to people so they have the “chance of getting more hits on their page”? Really?!?

Lesson #4: As a PR professional, there is this thing called church and state. If your clients have “advertising opportunities,” they should be going through the advertising firm or department, not you. Sure, you can advise your advertising colleagues on which bloggers to reach, but give me a break. Using that as leverage because a blogger sent you a snarky email in response to your horrible pitch?

Lesson #5: Always respond professionally to a negative response, no matter if it’s on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or email. Then take it offline. Immediately.

Lesson #6: Never, ever put in writing what you don’t want the rest of the world to see. It can, and will, be used against you.

Lesson #7: Don’t threaten the people you’re pitching. It’s not a good idea and makes you look like a douchecanoe.

Lesson #8: “I’m sorry” goes so much further than “I’m sorry, but…”

And finally…Lesson #9: Don’t use the reply all button!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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