Based on the online conversations we have seen and engaged in the following seem to be the most frequently asked questions or comments made to date in connection with the An Inconvenient PR Truth campaign animation. Feel free to ask more in the comments below.
Q. Are you suggesting irrelevant press release emails are causing climate change?
Q. Are you saying that irrelevance in general and spam in particular is the equivalent to pollution in the online world?
A. Yes. The billions £/$ that are probably spent either reducing it or wasted dealing with it are proof of this. Web filtering, spam filtering, pop up blockers, security patches, spam folders etc are just some of the many steps people take to try and reduce the impact of this online pollution.
Q. Are you suggesting that irrelevant press release emails are the main cause of online irrelevance?
A. Not in the slightest. They are the tiniest tip of an enormous iceberg. This is why the animation states that the PR Industry is only “one of those responsible for” this problem. However within the PR and Media industries themselves the scale of the problem is significant.
Q. Why use the analogy with the environment and the Al Gore film?
A. As others have pointed out the animation is a pastiche, but it is intended as a respectful one. Hence the message in the opening segment that the debate about environmental pollution is now a mainstream one, despite being, as Al Gore stated, An Inconvenient Truth. Yet this issue of irrelevant press release emails, which is clearly FAR less important, is one that we in the PR world seem to avoid tackling.
The issue raises its head every so often, as it did earlier this month, but the debate, if any, that follows is limited, rarely constructive and often fails to acknowledge the scale of the problem. Indeed, what is reasonable for both senders and recipients to expect from each other or how they might better interact is rarely addressed. The tough one – how it could be solved is not really discussed and never (to our knowledge) in a broad church, mainstream, environment. So nothing really changes.
Yet dealing with this issue is arguably the equivalent of “turning off the light” in an environmental context. The research suggests that around two thirds of recipients would be happy with a 50:50 relevant/irrelevant split.
As a big step in the right direction is that really such a challenge? Particularly compared to dealing with climate change!
Q. What do you mean by the “PR Industry”?
A. PR industry, we believe, means all those individuals and organisations (inhouse, agencies, freelancers, service providers) involved in the creation and sending of press releases– and that includes RealWire and the other PR agencies and service provider supporters of the campaign.
Q. Was this meant as an attack on the PR industry?
A. No -not at all. In fact the opposite is true. It is precisely because all those involved in the campaign are passionate about public relations and the benefits it can bring, that we have wanted to raise this issue.
Most of us rely on this industry to pay the mortgage and feed our kids, so biting the hand … is not our intention. But squeezing it a bit in an attempt to attend to an issue that, if solved, could improve the impact and value of the industry as a whole, is a risk we are all prepared to take.
Q. Isn’t it just as important that clients consider the impact of this issue?
A. Yes absolutely, but we believe that it should start with PR practitioners first.