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October 1, 2010
Turning Spammers Into Planners
 
From England comes word of an initiative aimed at reducing PR spam sent to media outlets by e-mail and other means. It's proposing, in essence, that PR pros act as such and be prompted by research and planning practices. Acting according to a communication plan, it's felt, will preclude spam because there will be no results to measure or relationships to track. Hurray for good sense from across the sea! But what's more likely to work is the notion of a PR speed limit: "Think before you spam!" 

As reported by British publicist Neville Hobson on his blog, the anti-spamming initiative announced by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations could possibly be a "tipping point regarding how PRs reach out to people via e-mail and other digital means." He's not betting on it, but there's the possibility of sensible relationships being bolstered via planning practices. Three other British associations, including the National Union of Journalists, have joined in sponsoring the "Media Spamming Charter"

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has been promoting communications planning for eons in this country, but spam filters aren't any the less advisable here.

The anti-spamming charter includes principles like: "Practitioners should invest time in researching the editorial scope and interests of a journalist/blogger before approaching them, to ensure their area of responsibility is relevant to the communications plan." True enough, but in the time it takes to read such precepts, how many intrusive e-mails could be dispatched? And which is more likely to happen? 

This likely makes me a cynical American. So be it. All success to our British colleagues, but keep your spam filters intact for the present anyway. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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