Swimming Against An Offal Tide of FlackSpam

The whole Y2K non-event was a crushing disappointment to VC Watch which was praying for a cleansing of sorts, an opening of the earth that would swallow forever the creators of “a leading, robust, turnkey, interactive, best-of-breed, mission-critical, content-rich, scaleable, next-generation, B2B, seamlessly leveraged, critically acclaimed, end-to-end, solutions company which is poised to be one of the biggest players in this space.”

But they’re still here, just as clueless and annoying as they were in the last millennium, ever ready to waste time and bandwidth with the inane, the trite and the just plain stupid.

So I asked VC Watch’s legion of flack catchers — Mary Evelyn Arnold, Charlie Bermant, M.A. Mills and David Needle — to nominate the best of the worst from the offal floodtide of FlackSpam that jams their e-mail boxes every day. There are some good PR folks out there, but more and more they become collateral damage victims from the “ready, fire, aim” school of boosterism.

While they all had favorite phrases to loathe, the group was unanimous in its hatred of e-mail attachments. While Charlie said he thought “PR people have generally improved,” he added, “The practice of sending press releases as attached documents is reprehensible. The only reason to do this has to do with formatting, which we don’t need anyway. You would think they would have the sense or taste to boil this stuff down to the essentials. You would be wrong.”

Yes, attachments are a hassle which I usually delete without reading because who knows when they might harbor a virus (wittingly or, most likely, unwittingly, given the fact that so much these people do is unwitting to the max). Plus, attachments are big files that hog bandwidth, clog up disk space and easily get lost when you have to forward them to someone else as I frequently do as I assign articles to others.

Then there are the clever types who send Postscript documents. Info-fatware these are, hogging still more disk space and all without a good cause. Send us words. Just the text, ma’am (Sir!). Good words. Descriptive words. NON-trite words. If you have some cool graphics that just beg to be seen, then add a few HTML links and if your words are convincing, we’ll click there. Stop wasting bandwidth. And then there’s the reporter-hostile aspect of Postscript: Sure, maybe it looks pretty, but if we want to cut and paste an address from it, perhaps a vital statistic or maybe a quote into a story…we can’t, thanks to Mr.pdf. But hey! The latter’s an increasingly seldom problem given the banality of poorly manufactured quotes about people who are usually “thrilled” about whatever the news release was that was in the unread and deleted attachment.

Even worse are e-mails that go too far the other way, like the one from Mark (you know who you are at eyecity.com) and Valerie (somewhere at TFC.textron.com) who sent e-mails with “Press Release” in the subject line and nothing but an obscure URL in the body. Can YOU say “delete?” Sure you can.

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