We love your blog!, claimed an email that dropped into my inbox some time last night. Which, sounding like a fairly unequivocally Good Thing, prompted me to open it.
"Hello" it begins. Not a good sign - not "hello Seamus" but simply "hello", the same undirected "hello" that appears at the top of junk mail addressed to Resident, only one step above the "dear friend" that seems to be the standard opening line of deposed Nigerian princes. Still. I read on.
"Hi, my name is Chris and I am a founder of LoudLaunch. I'm writing to personally invite you to join our Premium Publisher program..."
But that's not really true, is it Chris? You're not "writing to me personally". It's pretty easy to tell, really, from the fact that you've sent me a form email without bothering to do a basic mail merge to include a personalised salutation and from an address - LoudLaunch@mail.vresp.com - that's clearly not your personal email address but a mailbox built for this mass-marketing exercise. What you're really doing is spamming a lot of bloggers with a mass mailing and pretending it's something else.
So much for the "how not to". What about the "how to"?
Well, for the masterclass, the absolute creme-de-la-creme of blogger relations, I refer you to Al Duncan at Open X. Open X is an independent ad server for web publishers. That's roughly the sort of thing I talk about, so about six months ago I was interested to see they'd set up a blog and included Virtual Economics in their blogroll. That's enough to encourage me to keep an eye on them. Then a few months later Al Duncan, their Head of Communications, dropped me an email - an actual, personal email from his email address that started "Hi Seamus" and everything (see the difference LoudLaunch? Well, just watch and learn). Just to say "hi" and "we're here if you ever want to talk to us about what we do or our industry". Just right. And then a month ago another note with their latest news. Al again, from his own email address, not sending me a press release but actually summarising the elements of Open X's latest activities that might fit the sort of things I talk about here at Virtual Economics, with an offer to chat to theie CEO if I wanted to write about Open X any time soon.
On the one hand I'd like to say this sort of thing isn't hard to do (it's an odd state of affairs when sending an email begins to look like rocket science), but somehow it must be because the Open X experience is so rare. Virtual Economics is, I have no qualms about admitting, an utterly tiny blog in the scheme of things. I haven't even been posting more than a couple of times a week for a while since the summer - just too damned busy. But I still get a constant stream of peripherally-relevant press releases in my spam folder every day; I still get people sending me form emails claiming they're personal communications; and very occasionally I get someone who knows how to do it right, who just writes to me and tells me what his company has been up to.