As I outlined previously, I am amazed by the complete cluelessness of so many in the PR industry. Forgetting about all the ones I deleted before I started keeping track, I've now received
Let's think about that for minute... out of
9597 were generic form letter pitches that had nothing whatsoever to do with VoIP security 2 were generic form letter pitches about VoIP security (for whom I would be a natural target) 1 was a generic pitch on an inappropriate topic but that did realize that we were a podcast (and very nicely offered their executives for pre-VON podcasts) 1 was a pitch on an inappropriate topic but did actually realize that we were a security podcast Oh, and 10 PR reps followed up with a phone call (all of which generally went like I previously described)
Saw your security podcasts and thought you might want to chat with (name deleted) while he's at Fall VONThe rep got so close.... figuring out that we do security podcasts, but then not taking it the next level and personalizing the pitch. What was the hook? What was the security angle? Why would I want to talk to this particular person? Especially when the company's products have nothing whatsoever to do with VoIP security? Maybe there is something I'm missing... explain it to me and get me interested. Make me want to chat with that person.
Now in fairness to the PR profession and VON vendors, there are some 300+ vendors going to VON. Some percentage of those are startups without a real clue about publicity and so they probably did little or no advance press work. Some vendors may not have strong PR groups that reach out in advance, or in some cases may not have all that much to announce. And I have to believe that some of those vendors and their PR staff have an actual clue and did their research and figured out that it was inappropriate to pitch us. I have to believe that.
But for the rest... I'm sorry, but there really isn't excuse that I can see for NOT knowing who you are pitching. Sending out mass emails to untargeted lists doesn't make you a PR professional - it makes you a spammer. Being on the VON press list in advance was pretty much a complete and total waste of my time... all it did was fill my inbox and make me dread checking it. Next VON conference, I will either register very late, ask to be off the press list, or use a bogus or throwaway address.
I now understand why so many people in the media are so negative about people in PR. Being someone who has worked with PR - and enjoys doing so - seeing this level of clueless activity is a rather large embarrassment.... please, agencies, get a clue!
P.S. One PR person in the VoIP space who I should note definitely does have a clue is Andy Abramson of Comunicano. Anyone who reads VoIP Watch will know that several of Andy's clients will be here at VON. However, given that none of them have anything to do with VoIP security, I received no pitches from him and given that I've worked with him in the past, I'll have to make the assumption that his team did their research and realized I wasn't an appropriate target... if only everyone did this!
 For those just joining the story, I produce and co-host the weekly "Blue Box: The VoIP Security Podcast" targeted at the very narrow niche of VoIP security. I am attending VON and, as he has in past shows, Jeff Pulver has generously given press credentials to bloggers and podcasters. In comparison to past VON shows, I signed up early and wound up on the advance press list, which has unfortunately primarily wound up as a source of spam.