Social media "gurus" and bloggers are egotistical jerks

by David Spark on August 20, 2009

Boy (5-7) pulling face, holding thumb to nose, side viewThat about sums up my feeling towards a few of my brethren in social media and journalism after yesterday’s Brody PR “debacle.” (I used that title only for dramatic effect. They’re not all egotistical jerks. Then again, if you have a blog you likely have a decent sized ego. But that doesn’t make you a jerk.)

You may have read about the Brody PR debacle in one of the many blog posts about it or tracked the discussion on Twitter. If you didn’t read the story or weren’t on the list, here’s what happened:

  • A PR person sent a mass mailed press release about a new social media book  and failed to mask her list. She put the recipients in the To: field instead of the BCC field.
  • Two people sent honest responses of interest in the book, but accidentally hit the “Reply to All” button, thus everybody received those messages as well.

Granted, these were all mistakes. Not horrible mistakes, but mistakes nonetheless. The problem is, the people who saw these mistakes were industry influencers in social media, advertising, and journalism. Their professional sensibilities were so offended that they purposely began using the “Reply to All” feature requesting to be removed from the list.

Why would one hit the “Reply to All” button asking to be removed from the list knowing that the person who sent the email is the only one who has the power to remove that person from the list?

And why would one hit the “Reply to All” button to tell other people to stop hitting “Reply to All?”

And why would one hit the “Reply to All” button to announce the following?

  • “Beth as of now your domain is now on my spam list. Good bye”
  • “I have manually unsubscribed from this list and asked Gina Trapani to add BrodyPR to her list of PR firms who spam.”
  • “Take me off this fucking list which I never asked to be on and cannot unsubscribe from.”
  • “I realize this is hypocritical but might be best for people to NOT reply all to be removed from the list and only reply to the mail list owner. On that note, please remove me, and don’t ever put me on a mail list without my consent again. Thanks.”

The only reason one consciously hits “Reply to All” in all of these cases is because he or she is a self-centered egotistical jerk.

The PR woman made a MISTAKE. Let it go. Why trash her on the list, on your blog, and in the Twittersphere? Why write a blog post later pointing to her as the poster child of all of PR’s ills?

This is NOT the first time something like this has happened. I’ve seen it happen a minimum of once a year for the past twelve years. We’ve all gone through this experience before, but the show of obnoxious bravado in this email thread and then later on in blogs and in the Twittersphere was simply uncalled for. All of the people on this list are smart enough, savvy enough, and should have known better.

As for the people who said, ‘How dare you include my email without my permission?’ Get off your high horse. When did one’s email account become a sanctuary? When one makes their email address public online and on business cards you have to expect this is going to happen. Simply ask to be removed from the list and be done with it. Everyone unsubscribes from mailing lists and nobody, on either side, takes great offense.

The difference between the first two incidents of “Reply to All” and the numerous incidents afterwards, is the people afterwards KNEW what they were doing. They consciously decided to flex their social clout and were showing off to everyone on the list how angry they were.

I feel sorry for Beth Brody of Brody PR. She didn’t deserve any of this. We all make mistakes. I have to admit that she made another mistake in that she never put the unsubscribe feature at the bottom of her mass email. Others claim that it was there, but I couldn’t find it. Too bad her mistake was made in front of a few egotistical jerks. I do want to say kudos to the many more people who were on the list that chose a more healthy way to respond. They either manually unsubscribed, sent a private reply, or did nothing.

BTW, this Brody PR case reminds me of the case of Sarah Lacy interviewing Mark Zuckerberg at SXSW back in March, 2008. She also made a mistake. She conducted a bad interview. We’ve all seen bad interviews. But in the Lacy/Zuckerberg case as in the Brody PR case, the social media sphere decided to trash her.

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