Cision Spam

This morning I got an email from a company called Cision, which I've never heard of. Here is the email;

Hi Adam,

I hope this email finds you well.
You have a free profile in Cision's media database, which allows public relations and marketing professionals to find out about you and your areas of expertise. To ensure that you receive the pitches you want, when you want them, we encourage you to look over the questions below and reply to this email with any feedback.
Additionally, your tips and quotes may be included in an upcoming Cision marketing campaign, focused on automotive journalists. We look forward to hearing from you!

Beth Blanchard

This email from Cision made me think, “WTF?” As I never voluntarily signed-up for this media database and certainly didn't give anyone permission to quote me without my knowledge. Below the email there was some of my information along with questions they wanted me to answer.

Adam Yamada-Hanf
Co-Founder, Car News Cafe
Topics/Coverage: Automotive; Cars; Editor in Chief
How do you prefer to receive press materials?
What kind of information do you prefer to receive?
What will catch your attention?
Does your blog host paid placements or sponsored content?
Do you have any advice for PR professionals?
How about any pet peeves?
Do you use social media like Twitter or Facebook to gather leads and story ideas? Can you be pitched via these channels?
Preferred Contact Days(please check which option you prefer): M __ T__ W__ Th__ F__
Preferred Contact Time (please specify AM and PM):
Preferred Contact Method (please check which option you prefer): E-mail__ Fax__ Mail__ Phone__ Website form__

Why would I answer all these questions from a company I haven't heard or was referred to personally by someone?  Since the email came from a generic email address – us.mediaprofiles AT – and not from a personal email address from Beth Blanchard, I know it was automatically generated.  It's common for marketing and press relation companies to send out bulk emails.  I was going to reply to this email but before I wasted time doing that I started doing web searches on Cision.  This so called marketing company is notorious for sending bulk emails to journalists, writers, and bloggers.  Well not exactly.

Apparently how Cision Spam works is they sell your information to other PR companies that spam the hell out of the media, like myself.  So the Cision spamming apparently is almost impossible to stop.  Other companies like Vocus, MyMediaInfo, and Meltwater are also notorious offenders as well but Cision seems to be the only people stupid enough to actually email journalists about it.  These are exactly the type of people (assholes) that attend Affiliate Summit.

I get unsolicited requests and press releases from companies and PR representatives all the time.   Honestly, it's part of the industry if you work as a journalist.  Usually 90% of the time I know they are not genuine or were automatically sent so I delete them and mark them as spam.  It's just as bad, or probably worse, as getting Link Requests.

I really have a problem when a company is profiting selling my information without my knowledge to PR companies that have no legitimate interest in contacting me for stories.  These bullshiters are wasting everyone's time, especially the company's that hired them.  I'm pretty sure companies that pay to have someone else handle their press relations don't realize they are using unsolicited bulk spam emails like Cision or it's customers.  I assume a company believes they are making efforts to make individual connections with journalists for stories.  Not this BS.

To any PR and marketing companies and professionals reading this, these tactics are not helping you with writers and journalists.  We are facing increasing pressure and lower pay, which means less time for everything.  From reading emails and writing stories to sourcing credible leads and sources.  Filling our inboxes with PR spam does not help you, your clients, or us more effectively communicate anything.

I should make it clear, my name and contact information is listed in certain databases and booklets.  I'm very selective about where I get listed and all these places you must opt-in and sign-up.  I don't want to be contacted by companies that do not have something automotive related or to do with pets (I have two Singing Dogs.)

Have you gotten any spam from Cision or other companies?  As a journalist and writer what annoys you most about getting unsolicited emails and press releases?  If you were successful in stopping the emails, how did you get Cision or Vocus to stop sending you PR material?

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  • Cision is a terrible service. The company supposedly removed my details in 2010 (I didn’t opt-in, of course) but a few years later and I still receive press releases through their mailing lists.

    • I’m hoping they will remove me too but I can’t really be sure. Honestly, I’m not going to pay to look at the media database to make sure my information isn’t listed there.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences David.

  • RMP Media Analysis says:

    Adam I think your frustration in receiving spam is well justified. The issue however is not the tool, but the user.

    • My frustration is definitely justified but I feel you are wrong. Cision is responsible for spam and Vocus, a company you’ve worked for, is just as bad. These media database companies are aware of who the offenders are but don’t take action on them. Mainly because they earn money from them. They also send spam themselves from what I’ve read.

      This is one of the problems with PR professionals. They assume all the communication they engage in is “valuable” and is about “building relationships” but it is not. If you’ve never sat on this journalist and editorial side of the table Roxane it’s really hard for you to understand the position we are in these days.

      I’ve seen a lot of writers go into PR the past few years mainly because companies are looking for people with good communication skills that are not tainted by usual marketing BS. I’m still amazed by some basics that marketers overlook since they don’t understand what being useful really means. Forums are a great example as most PR firms hate them.

      With regards to your blog post, my work email is publicly available so that legit companies and people have an easy way to contact me directly Roxane. I’ve never stated anywhere that my information can be bought and sold and I doubt you’d like that either.

  • Ashley D. says:

    You can always asked to be removed from their databases.

    • Yes, I realize that and put in a request to be removed. It’s hard to know to ask to be removed though unless you are aware where you have been listed and why your name is there.