Survey says journalists 'hate' PR junk e-mails

In-box agony: a familiar sight for many journalists

Journalists would like to see the introduction of a formal Code of Conduct to govern how PR firms communicate with them by e-mail, according to a new survey.

A third of respondents to the the survey said they "hated" unsolicited e-mails. The same number reported deleting unopened e-mails from PR consultants they didn’t know

as a way of trying to manage the huge influx into their mailboxes.

The survey – conducted by Cheltenham-based PR consultants LMPR – was compiled after interviews with 119 journalists about their in-boxes and the impact that PR practitioners were having on them.

Lindsay Mason, LMPR managing director, said: "The negative reaction from journalists to unsolicited e-mails has to be laid at the door of some PR practitioners. Many have been guilty of sending untargeted e-mails containing irrelevant trivia, often with huge file attachments that jam journalists’ mailboxes."

Contrary to the belief of many PRs, vague titles such as "A Good Story", irritate journalists, rather than entice them.

Of those interviewed, 20 per cent reported an increase of 100 per cent in their in-boxes over the past 12 months, with an average of 30-40 e-mails received daily by journalists.

Older, experienced journalists who had received training in how to use specialist computer systems when the technology was introduced tended to be more receptive and enthusiastic about the internet than those who had not received training, the survey also found.

The motoring correspondent from one national daily newspaper said he received 150-200 e-mails every day, so he introduced his own filtering process of six different e-mail addresses. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, which is campaigning for an official Code of Conduct.

Mason said: "PR practitioners should ensure they understand the preferred way to send information to individual reporters, rather than taking a scattergun approach. We need to appreciate the incredible pressure many journalists work under in the way that we communicate with them."

But the survey concluded that journalists were not against e-mail.

Copies of the survey, Unsolicited E-mails – A Journalist’s Friend or Foe?, are available from LMPR, costing £150.

By Jean Morgan

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