Thursday, September 11, 2008

The power of positive e-mailing

For many years, I preached to my staff that they should never be too reliant on e-mail pitches. The reasons were many: they could be deleted in one fell swoop without opening them, blocked by filters, sitting in an in-box along with hundreds of others for a long time, and just easily ignored.

Nothing replaces the effectiveness of picking up the telephone and call. Yes, it's old school, but it still works and I believe in it to this day.

However, twice in the past month, I was reminded of the power of e-mail, despite its heavy dependency in the public relations field.

The first involved this very blog, which was incredibly lucky and fortunate enough to have grabbed one of the 32 slots in PR Week's PR Blog Competition. In my first round, I faced Steve Rubel's Micro Persuasion blog, written by the social media guru of Edelman Worldwide, the largest independent public relations agency in the world. I knew how David felt facing Goliath and the prospect was quite intimidating.

Instead of a slingshot, I sent out an e-mail to just about everybody I knew asking them to vote for my blog. I e-mailed relatives, current clients, former employees, neighbors, friends, parents of my Little League team, my kids' teachers, my attorney, my various doctors, my neighbors, and just about anybody who I thought would click a vote for me.

When the polls closed, I shockingly had 65 % of the vote, despite a surge when Rubel asked people to vote for him on his Twitter feed.

When the second round came, I was up against the Communications Overtones blog by Kami Huyse, well-loved in the PR world. Again, I went back to my huge e-mail blast to the world. In a down to the wire race, Kami took 51% of the over 500 votes, but I was amazed and gratified to see I got 250 votes!

In a weird way, it was like getting 250 replies to the same pitch letter, an incredible rate of response. There was no reason to stop at blog competitions. I should probably offer my e-mail marketing services to a Presidential campaign!

Lately, the power of e-mail took on another meaning. On Labor Day, I tore my Achilles tendon while making a play at second base during a weekend warrior choose-up softball game. I pivoted one way but my foot decided to stay planted with my cleat. After surgery, I was told that I'd be on crutches for 4 - 6 weeks, followed by 2 - 3 months of physical therapy.

Suddenly, commuting to Manhattan down from Westchester seemed like climbing the Andes. Public transportation would be out of the question. So I returned to my e-mail PR blog campaign tactic asking around for anybody who was crazy enough to drive to Manhattan and give me a lift. I got several responses, including one from a local guy I didn't even know, offering a ride.

Have these experiences changed my mind about leaning on e-mail too much for PR pitches? Not at all. While I could not have mustered speedy PR blog campaign support or rides back and forth to Manhattan with a one-man telemarketing blitz, e-mail still reminds me of something I am now very familiar with since my injury -- it's a crutch.

But I have been enlightened about e-mail's power to ask for help. And that is why our own e-mail boxes will always be plundered by spam offering great mortgage rates, how to Google to make money, new pills for sexual wonders, assistance for moving bank accounts out of Nigeria, and getting the best meds anywhere.

1 comment:

Kami Huyse said...

Funny, but the reliance on e-mail for the PR Week contest seemed old school to me. I mostly used social media channels, and yes, e-mail. I couldn't have won without it I think.

Isn't that an interesting perspective?

I hope your foot feels better soon.