I was a little taken aback by David Spark’s post on PR Daily
titled, “Why faux friendliness gets emails deleted
.” David suggests cutting the sugarcoating out of your email. No “I hope the week is going well.” No generic “love your blog and all of the great social media marketing tools that you share.”
I find David’s suggestions a bit curt. I have no issues with starting an email with “I hope this finds you well.” That is in no way me trying to be your best buddy. Rather, I’m trying to extend common courtesy.
What we should learn from David’s post is the skill of personalizing and targeting individual email:
• If you read (which you should always do) and liked one of a reporter’s latest articles, say it. What harm does it do if you say why you liked it, and how your pitch fits the reporter’s interests because of what you liked? We all know we should read the work of any reporter we pitch. Who doesn’t like hearing that the pitcher happened to like it for legitimate reasons and why those reasons justify our being in touch?
• PR is about relationship building. While it’s important to get to the point and be succinct, I’m a fan of warmth and friendliness. I find myself referring to and connecting most often with people who have a pleasant personality. Robotic communication just leaves something to be desired (and I’m not saying David suggests such a thing).
• For the love of PR gods—do not mass email!
• An apology is fine, but you should mean it. I honestly am sorry to pester people, and I say so when I send a follow-up email. I don’t like to be pestered, but sometimes I need a reminder or a poke here and there. Just don’t use it ad nauseam, especially where there’s no need.
David ends with calling faux engagement a hideous, obnoxious trend. He also calls any of us who send what he deems “faux” emails a-holes. David has a lot of cordiality and empathy, doesn’t he?
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My two cents: The definition of faux is in the eye of the beholder. Be polite, courteous, considerate, genuine and targeted in all correspondence. It shouldn’t take a post like David’s or mine to teach you that.
Kate Ottavio is a public relations professional working at a boutique firm in Manhattan. A version of this story originally appeared on her blog.