My husband is also a journalist – we met when working on the same magazine – and back in the days when we used to share jokes together and think everything the other said was funny, we invented a character called Tamsin Spamsin, an irritating PR who would spam our inboxes with useless press releases that were as irrelevant as they were frequent. Oh how we laughed.
Tamsin Spamsin has been on my mind these last few weeks, because of a certain PR who keeps blighting my inbox with indecent, freakish regularity. I’m talking four times a day, at least, from 7.30am onwards, including Saturdays. I rarely do this, but I felt forced to hit “unsubscribe”. Still, the emails came. Fair enough, I thought; these things can take seven days to effect. But it’s now been two weeks, and Tamsin is still spamming me. I’m beginning to hate her. But I also feel sorry for her. Why doesn’t she know that overfamiliarity breeds contempt; that sending out unfocused, irrelevant emails is an act of self-sabotage that does neither client nor journalist any favours?
Journalists need and want to hear from PRs, but in an era when they already have more control than many journalists would like, it’s important for the journalist to feel they still have some control left to exercise – like the right to opt out of receiving emails. The moral of the tale? Make sure your unsubscribe link actually works. You can’t make all of the people like you all of the time, so save your energy (and your emails) for those who respond.