Yesterday I talked about how PR Company Vocus botched their own PR. Here is some more about the backlash and how they are handling it.
It turns out I got this email because I am a customer of PRWeb (I have done press releases through them before), and Vocus bought PRWeb last year. When Vocus sent out this email, they used PRWeb’s customer list. Most PRWeb’s customers had no idea that they had been purchased by Vocus, so this email was completely out of the blue.
Things would have been much different if they had started this email saying “Dear PRWeb user, as you may know PRWeb was purchased by Vocus and here is something we though you might find interesting as a PRWeb user”. If they did this I wouldn’t have thought “Who is Vocus and why are they sending me an email?”
The next thing Vocus should do is take this opportunity to start a conversation with bloggers. They should post comments on blogs that mentioned this email. They should send emails to bloggers. They should start saying “Hey, we screwed up, we’re sorry. Help us do better in the future”. They need to realize that there is a conversation going on about them whether they want it or not. They can’t control the conversation, but they should at least participate in it.
Also, as part of that conversation, they should start a blog themselves. Connecting with bloggers is much easier when you have a blog yourself. There is no better way to get a blogger to talk about then by sending them some link love
As I was writing this I just saw this posting that is a statement from Bill Wagner, CMO at Vocus. He apologizes and explains how the email ended up in so many mailboxes of unsuspecting bloggers. That’s a good start. But unfortunately, it had to be issued on Jiyan Wei’s personal blog (
and even though the blog has an “author” page, I can’t find the name of the employee. Update: After reading my post he added his name to his author page. Isn’t this conversation thing great ). He also sent a similar note to Susan Getgood, one of the bloggers quoted in the whitepaper that was being promoted in the email. Again, it’s good that they are reaching out to bloggers.
Hopefully Vocus will be able to use this as a learning experience, and start to have a more effective conversation . I recommend they read the Hughtrain Manifesto.