Green Bacon’s and Spam is Bad for PR

    January 25, 2006

While I was at the WOMMA conference I had the pleasure of meeting the delightful Tara Kirchner.

She handles influencer marketing at Yahoo. During our conversation, Tara mentioned that she recently discovered that citizen journalists are getting added to the Bacon’s MediaMap Media Directory by default without their prior consent. What’s worse, Bacon’s is making it hard to opt-out.

Bacon’s MediaMap is the major tool that PR professionals use to research and reach out to the media. It’s our yellow pages. Tara, who helps run the Yahoo! Search blog, is listed in the directory as the blog’s edit contact. As a result, she is getting bombarded with lots of news releases – some relevant, others that are pure spam.

If it is indeed true that Bacon’s offers no easy opt-out (company officials are encouraged to weigh in here), then they are inadvertently giving the PR community a black eye. We’re pitching bloggers that are in the directory who may or may not want to be pitched. What’s worse, these citizen journalists may not even be aware that they are in the Bacon’s directory to begin with! That’s a bad practice, my friends.

Now Bacon’s could throw their hands up and say “Hey we’re just the hammer. You can use it to hit a nail or smack yourself in the head. Be a smart PR professional.” That would be fair, however at a minimum they owe it to everyone in the journalism community – professional or citizen – the right to an easy opt out.

Steve Rubel is a PR strategist with nearly 16 years of public relations, marketing, journalism and communications experience. He currently serves as a Senior Vice President with Edelman, the largest independent global PR firm.

He authors the Micro Persuasion weblog, which tracks how blogs and participatory journalism are changing the public relations practice.