This isn't exactly brain surgery, yet the fellow at a PR agency called Rocket Science managed to violate Rule #1 while attempting to drum up publicity for Singlefin, which provides e-mail, IM and Web filtering services to the likes of Juno and NetZero.
Rather than direct the request to the appropriate individual or individuals here -- oh, say our spam and security beat writers -- the Rocket Science rep lit up the inboxes of 11 different Network World staffers, not to mention at least three individuals who no longer work here.
Now, it's not at all uncommon for PR professionals to spew their pitches at everyone on our masthead -- there are worse sins, although this one is way up there on every journalist's list of complaints. However, this particular agency also violated "Rule #2 when doing PR for an anti-spam vendor: Know how to use e-mail."
PR spam, artfully crafted, can go largely undetected since recipients can be duped into believing that they received the only copy within their organization. In this instance, however, the mass mailing was readily apparent to all because the "To:" field of the e-mail was populated by 116 clearly visible names -- our 11 staffers, the three exes, and 102 other journalists.
And if that wasn't enough to convince every targeted scribe that he or she was getting a less-than-exclusive interview opportunity, there was this personalized method of address:
All of which I might have let slide without remark if not for this final indignity: Nowhere among those 11 Network World addressees, three former employees, and 102 other journalists could I find the name that matters most: mine.
"Rule #3 when doing PR for an antispam vendor: Don't dis the news editor who writes a blog."
(Update: A reply from Rocket Science President Mark Addison.)