By now, many of you have heard about the story of Brody PR and the lessons learned by its owner when she inadvertently sent a pitch out to journalists and bloggers by putting all of their addresses in the cc: field instead of the bcc: field. Therefore, I won’t bore you by beating a dead horse — if you want a quick review of what happened, Jeremy Porter has a decent recap over at Journalistics.
The issue here is an important one, obviously, because so many people have reacted and commented. But let’s face it, many people have joined together to make a mountain out of a molehill. Actually, they’ve made a holier than thou mountain out of a molehill. I’m really getting tired of these folks who think their time is so valuable they can’t be bothered with the PR pigs feeding at the trough. Guess what? It seems to me that many of them have become high-prancing stallions intent on building their personal name recognition and Google-search status much more than providing a valuable service to anyone.
The journalists and bloggers involved with the offending Brody PR email went ballistic on this one, from what I can tell, because of the flood of replies that came into their email in boxes. The thing is, Brody PR didn’t send replies to everyone — the journalists and bloggers who clicked “Reply to All” caused that mess.
In the end, Beth Brody has stepped up, taken her public caning and committed to learning from her mistake. I don’t know Beth personally, but I’m inclined to get to know her, if for no other reason than the fact that she has been made the focus of a wrath that was so over the top it’s almost laughable.
I try to have “be cynical and paranoid” added to all my job descriptions, so I suppose it’s no wonder I have a different take on all of this. Was it really necessary for the recipients to reply to all when complaining about how the email pitch was handled? Absolutely not. They could have ignored the email, they could have replied just to the sender or they could have used their own publications or blogs as a teaching tool. Instead, they decided to make an example out of someone who made an honest mistake. They turned someone’s attempt to do her job and earn a living into a voodoo doll designed to inflict pain and suffering on the entire PR industry.
Are there poor PR practices and professionals in the industry who give it a bad name? Absolutely, but you can say that about every profession, including journalism and blogging.
In my career, I’ve been used as a source for news reports more times than I could ever count. And there have been plenty of times when I’ve dealt with clueless reporters for whom I had no patience. Not only did they not understand a subject they were writing about, they refused to learn and stop repeatedly asking me for the same explanation over and over. Did that mean I hated the entire journalism industry and went out of my way to skewer it whenever possible? Of course not.
Then there are the bloggers writing missives that are opinionated and filled with poor research but passed off as delivering a factual news story. Does that mean all bloggers are evil and not to be trusted because the industry as a whole has no code of ethics? Of course not.
The next time journalists and bloggers want to go on a rant about the public relations industry and how all of its practitioners are evil, they need to take a deep breath and remember this: the trip to the holier than thou mountaintop is shorter than you think. It also is a trip that can be avoided if you just stay on the molehill.
(Image courtesy of kiwinz on Flikr)