The cats’ litter box contains more useful nuggets than my work email lately

AxComputer

I have been tempted …

I don’t dislike public-relations people. PR on the whole isn’t that different from journalism and blogging, and I understand that trying to get the word out about companies, products and services is their job. For those who don’t know, I work on a blog about Facebook. The percentage of emails I receive that have nothing whatsoever to do with Facebook has been on a steady upswing, despite my efforts to alert senders that they’re barking up the wrong tree, unsubscribe (when applicable) and pound away at the spam button in Gmail.

No matter how much I try to clean up my email box, I can’t even begin to tell you how much of my time this process wastes on a daily basis.

First off, as I have said in the past, 99.99% of emails with “STORY IDEA” in the subject line are completely mistargeted and useless.

Second, when your email begins with a greeting to my former boss (who has not been a part of my blog since April 2012), the blog’s founder (whose byline last appeared that same month, after very limited involvement over the year prior to that), or a person I’ve never heard of (common mistake when sending mass emails, but still a mistake), you are already starting off down one strike. One strike becomes two strikes when you claim to be a regular reader of the blog, yet you address your email to someone who has not been a part of it for almost three years.

Third and most important, if you are emailing the editor of a blog that writes about Facebook, how about, oh, I don’t know, actually pitching a story that is related to Facebook? When I skim through an entire pitch or press release and don’t see the word “Facebook” once, smoke comes out of my ears.

Finally, in the cases when I take the time to reply to flaks and remind them that I am interested in Facebook and only Facebook, writing back to try to push a completely unrelated story is beyond foolhardy. I actually had one person who pitched a story with no Facebook angle whatsoever write back to try to sell me on the story with this gem: “Well, the company does have a Facebook page.” Really? So does my softball league. You don’t see me writing about that, do you?

Oh, yes, and one more pet peeve of mine is the misuse and abuse of the word “expert.” I have been writing about Facebook since 2011, yet I don’t consider myself an expert. Working for a company that runs Facebook ad campaigns or helps businesses create pages on Facebook doesn’t really make you an expert, either. So the fact that you are available for comment tells me you are just trying to get your name out there, which is fine, but I’m not biting.

If I want to waste time during the work day (and who doesn’t?), I will waste time pondering fantasy sports moves, playing Words with Friends or checking Facebook, like just about everyone else does. I should not be wasting so much time on emails that are as useful as tits on a bull.

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Do yourself a favor … save that press release for Monday

As I type this, it’s late on a Friday afternoon, which means that at some point in the next couple of hours, I will most likely receive a press release via email, well after my work day, of minimal to zero importance.

Don’t get me wrong: I am more than willing to do work after-hours or on weekends if news of some importance happens to break. I have never thought of my job as a 9-to-5 (or a 5:30-to-2:30, as it may be). News happens when it happens, and the timing and flow can’t be controlled.

But the key word is “news.”

I would conservatively estimate that 99.9% of the press releases I’ve received late Friday afternoon or over the weekend are of questionable news value at best, or completely useless at worst.

Again, I am not lazy, and while no one wants their evenings or weekends to be disturbed, it’s part of the job when big news breaks.

But the 200th press release about a website that offers cover images for Facebook’s timeline profile is not big news. Nor is the 500th different ad-management platform. And a contest on your Facebook page? Nope … not big news.

I’m sure I speak for most reporters, bloggers, and whatnot when I say that at the end of the work week, our brains are deep-fried. If you’re going to get our attention Friday afternoon or over the winter, you need to kick our asses. So far, you’re not doing it. Not even close.

I even got a press release about a photo contest on a Facebook page at 4 p.m. on the Saturday of President’s Day weekend. Seriously? STOP THE PRESSES! At 4 p.m. on the Saturday of a holiday weekend, Mark Zuckerberg better be selling Facebook, or Sheryl Sandberg better have resigned, or Facebook better have bought its own country, or started charging $20 per month. The chance for Facebook users to win $50 worth of dog food for the best picture of their pooch doesn’t cut it.

I’m not saying that these releases are totally worthless, and I’m not saying I won’t look into them and possibly cover them and write something about them during the week. I’m just saying that it would be smarter to just save them for Monday morning. You may think you’re drawing attention to your news by sending it at 7 p.m. on Friday or noon on Saturday or whenever, but the attention you’re drawing may not be positive.

For the love of God, respect the weekend.

If you’re going to e-mail a press release after 5 p.m. on a Friday …

This pretty much sums it up ...

… how about making sure it’s something people actually give a shit about? The weekend starts at 5 p.m. on Friday. If I’m going to interrupt my weekend to do work, it had damn well better be important work. And if it’s not important, it’s getting ignored, and you probably would have been much better off e-mailing it at 8 a.m. Monday.

These are examples of stories that are worth publicizing after 5 p.m. on a Friday:

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg is holding several hostages at gunpoint at Columbia Pictures and demanding that The Social Network be revised to include him getting laid a lot more.

Microsoft reached agreements to acquire AOL, Yahoo! and Google.

Users trying to access Twitter were greeted with a graphic displaying a big hand giving the middle finger.

These are examples of stories that offer no inspiration whatsoever and will likely never see the light of day:

Low-level personnel announcements, especially at low-level companies: Once the weekend starts, I honestly don’t give a shit if Carson City Online hired an assistant account manager for the Reno area.

Announcements about D-level celebrities: Once I have a cocktail in my hand, the news that Larry Wilcox, who starred opposite Erik Estrada in CHiPs, will be speaking to your assistant gardening editor does absolutely nothing for me.

Meaningless statistics: No one cares that your website logged the 21st most monthly page views in its history. No one cares about this at any time of any day, much less after 5 p.m. on Friday.

The moral of the story: Once the weekend arrives, please think before you e-mail, or your “news” will end up in the SPAM folder.