Email subject lines that make me cringe

I absolutely love working full-time on an established blog, but every job comes with things that make you just shake your head, no matter how content you are overall, and mine is no exception. And the thing that makes me shake my head on a regular basis, often several times daily, is my email inbox.

Me, several times a day, minus the suit and tie

I have posted repeatedly about the emails I get that are in unrecognizable languages, or that come from people who think that a blog that covers Facebook is Facebook, but plenty of contributions in perfect English and (allegedly) targeted specifically toward our blog make me wonder what people are thinking.

When I see the following subject lines, I know a migraine is sure to follow, and I’ll tell you why.

Article, article idea, story, story idea: I have pretty much stopped reading emails that come in with these subject lines. For every 1,000 I get, 999 are completely useless, and I will gladly run the risk of missing the one that isn’t. The vast majority contain stories about topics not even remotely covered by our blog. And the miniscule percentage of emails that do involve Facebook are either stories that state the obvious (This Just In: People Use Facebook To Communicate With Each Other!), ancient news (how to use Facebook’s new timeline, which debuted months ago), or babbling by someone claiming to be a “Facebook expert.” I have been working full-time on a blog about Facebook for nine months, and I still don’t consider myself a Facebook expert, so you are not a Facebook expert, either, just because you helped the flower shop down the block create their page.

Bylined article: These are even better. Instead of writing an article that nobody asked for, how about bringing me a steak and a bottle of wine that nobody asked for? It would be a lot more useful, and tasty, too. Do we run guest posts? Sure, but it makes much more sense to have some communication beforehand. Besides, most of the ones that come in have many of the same issues as the ones described in the last topic, and most have already been published elsewhere.

Is available for comment: Whenever a big Facebook story breaks, we get bombarded with “experts” who are “available for comment” on the news. And in 99.9% of the cases, I have never heard of the person or the company. I would be better off walking around the streets of Hoboken and stopping random strangers to ask their opinion. In some cases, I would be better off interviewing my cats.

These aren’t email subject lines, but since I’m on a roll, here are a couple of tactics that annoy the living hell out of me:

Trying to bullshit a bullshitter: While I already admitted that I don’t consider myself to be a Facebook expert, I do have somewhat of a clue after covering the social network for nine months. When people try tricks like tying together two things that have nothing to do with each other, it gets annoying, and I’m not falling for it. You may have updated your marginal Facebook applications, and it may have coincidentally happened the week before the company’s IPO, but the two have nothing to do with each other, so don’t even try this approach: “In conjunction with Facebook’s IPO, we added the following features to our app.” In conjunction with the Yankees losing to the Braves this afternoon, go fuck yourself.

English as a fourth language: I realize Facebook is a global company, and I am not one of those snobs who thinks every inhabitant of planet Earth should speak English or go drown themselves, but our blog is written in English, by people who speak English, so if you want us to write about your application, you need to find someone to help you describe its features in English. If I don’t understand it, I’m not going to write about it. I don’t expect a press release to read like John Steinbeck, but if it reads like Latka from “Taxi,” I will give up and move on to the next story.

The only bright spot about all of these annoying emails is that when I click open and find something useful, I appreciate it that much more. So the next time you want to send a “story idea” to a blog that covers Facebook, and your story is “How The Brady Bunch Would Have Used Twitter,” walk away from your PC, drive to the nearest store, and buy yourself a clue.

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2 comments on “Email subject lines that make me cringe

  1. […] received an incredibly irritating email on my work account this afternoon, and, unlike most of the bonehead ones I’ve written about, this […]

  2. […] don’t dislike public-relations people. PR on the whole isn’t that different from journalism and blogging, and I understand that […]

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