How Not To Market to Bloggers, Redux

Someone got fired. In the wake of this entry about a really bad e-mail pitch I received from a PR company on behalf of Napster, this popped up in the entry’s comment thread:

Hi John,

I am the President & CEO of Guerilla PR and am quite disturbed by the email that was sent to you by Nadine of my staff and want to personally apologize.

Each of our outreach emails are crafted for a specific target audience and typically go through a quality control and approval process. As I’m sure you are well aware, mistakes occur within even the most strategic marketing campaigns and, unfortunately, you mistakenly received an email that was specifically developed for outreach to a database of comedic fansites (thus the affiliate-focused offer and tone).

Aside from containing messages that were not tailored specifically to you, the email you received was crafted by a Guerilla staffer who took it upon herself to make creative changes to the approved email copy, which resulted in language that was far more cutesy, “salesy”, immature, unprofessional and generic than any which Guerilla pr typically recommends using- with any audience. The copy in the email was not approved by anyone at Guerilla PR, nor by anyone at Napster.

At Guerilla PR, we understand that “guerilla” marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool, but only when well executed. The type of communication you received is NOT indicative of the communications that we send on behalf of Napster or any of our clients.

In all fairness, Guerilla PR and our employees have relationships which we have built up over 7 years and have succeeded in providing sites, writers and users with valuable digital assets, tools, story queries, interviews, videos, and more.

I am glad this was brought to my attention, as it enabled us to correct the situation. We concur with your assessment and strive to continually have our entire staff practice the recommendations you scribed. To reduce the risk of future similar incidents, this GPR rep’s employment has been terminated.

Please email me back if you have any additional needs or questions. Thank you.

With respect,

Michael Leifer

Two things here:

1. Very large kudos to Mr. Leifer and Guerilla PR for moving quickly to explain the situation from their end and to address the issue in a substantive fashion. It’s always a good thing when errors are addressed, and the transparency here in dealing with the issue is also super smart. That is, indeed, good PR. So well done, sir. Apology accepted, with sincere thanks.

2. Holy crap, what I wrote got someone fired. Well, to be accurate, their own actions got them fired, although it does appear my entry was a contributing factor in the actions coming to light. I’m still working out how I feel about this personally, although from a business point of view it has undeniable logic: If someone went that far out of the chain of standard practices for a company and the result is that a client was put in a bad light, it’s time to clean out a desk.

In any event, good to see this dealt with.

Update, 7/22/06, 9:30 am: As you’ll see in the comments, many of the commenters seriously doubt the sincerity of the letter above, and suggest Mr. Leifer’s explanation (and termination of his staffer) are largely the work of a marketeer trying to once again get a grip on his spin. I fully acknowledge he could just be telling me what I want to hear and letting me imagine that my immense blogger powers have crushed my marketing foes, when in fact they continue on unscathed. But inasmuch as that Mr. Leifer is putting the credibility of his shop on the line with a public apology, and that it would be simple enough for an industrious business reporter to verify the particulars of Mr. Leifer’s letter (hint, hint), I’m willing to take him at his word for now. This does, however, accentuate how suspicious folks in the online world are of bad marketing, and how quickly credibility erodes when one’s company does something dumb.

Day of Play

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Here’s Athena on her new bike (she outgrew the old one — who knew that’s what kids do), and now we’re about to head off to see Monster House, which, as the title suggests, is about a house that’s also a monster. So basically, no time to hang with all y’all. You kids have fun without me. See you later.