Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Chris Anderson's PR Blacklist Backlash - The Long Tail of Bad PR

Posted by Tom Foremski - October 30, 2007

I was out and about Tuesday evening at various events, Eye-Fi and UberGizmo and the subject of Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine's super talented editor came up again and again. Specifically, his outlash at PR people, publicly criticizing those that have sent him bad pitches by publishing their email addresses.

ChrisAnderson.jpg I've had it. I get more than 300 emails a day and my problem isn't spam (Cloudmark Desktop solves that nicely), it's PR people. Lazy flacks send press releases to the Editor in Chief of Wired because they can't be bothered to find out who on my staff, if anyone, might actually be interested in what they're pitching.

SORRY PR PEOPLE: YOU'RE BLOCKED

From tired to inspired

I'm a huge fan of Mr Anderson, he turned around a sickly magazine and made it into a powerhouse. No question about it, he turned Wired from tired to inspired.

Bad time of the month?

I know the pressures of a monthly magazine, you are going to press, and there are a million details to pay attention to...it is not the best time of the month to deal with useless emails, however... I discussed Mr Anderson's reaction with many people, some PR people, but especially with many veteran journalists. We all receive bad pitches, that's part of our job. We ignore or delete, and then we move on with our day. Not for Mr Anderson, things became personal:

There is no getting off this list. If you're on it and have something appropriate to say to me, use a different email address.

The list has about 370 plus emails. What puzzled colleagues and myself, is that Mr Anderson took the time to sort through and list his long tail of misbehaving PR people, it must have taken many hours. And he felt so personally injured by their behavior that he took steps to publicly shame them. Serious stuff indeed.

However, it remains a puzzling incident. I could understand this if he were a blogger, a novice, unaccustomed to the life of a journalist--and bloggers do get upset about press releases in their e-mail box that have nothing to do with their interests. Mr Anderson is a veteran journalist, ex-Economist, these should be petty annoyances at best--we all deal with them without a second thought.

But all great achievers exhibit occasional falls from grace, which is their humble way of reminding us that they are human.

(I hope to have the opportunity to demonstrate the same one of these days.)

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