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Ken Magill

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Stupid Email Watch: 'Are You Phishing Me?'

9/4/12

By Ken Magill

Talk about paranoid.

Oh, it’s warranted. But still: Talk about paranoid.

Last week while looking around the Internet for story ideas, I came across a blog post in which Loren McDonald, vice president of industry relations for email services provider Silverpop, was quoted and referred to as a woman.

“How do you blow that?” I thought. It’s not like the guy’s some obscure figure in email marketing circles. Go to any email-marketing conference and McDonald’s probably on the agenda as a speaker.

What’s more, a quick Google-images search reveals that if McDonald were a woman, we’d all be telling him he should do something about that hair.

Obviously, someone with little industry experience wrote that post.

I considered Tweeting: “What happens when interns blog. I had no idea you were a woman, Loren,” with a link to the post.

Then I thought; “What if he’s sensitive about his name in a ‘Don’t call me Francis’ kind of way?”

Turns out he’s not, but I found that out only after I sent him an email that would immediately make me wish for the Do-Over Fairy.

My email’s subject line: “What happens when interns blog.”

The body of the message included a link to the blog post and one line: “Boy, for a woman, you sure look a hell of a lot like a guy to me.”

No salutation. No sign off.

Almost immediately, McDonald sent an email back with the subject line: “Did your email account get hacked or something?”

“Just got a very strange email from your gmail account:

“Boy, for a woman, you sure look a hell of a lot like a guy to me.

“With a link – that I’m not going to click.

“Loren”

Slightly chagrined, I responded to McDonald explaining that I had, indeed, sent the weird message and why.

“I should have explained better,” I wrote with my usual gift for understatement.

With my permission, McDonald shared my message with fellow participants in the Only Influencers email discussion list. According to McDonald, all of the participants who assessed the message said they wouldn’t trust it enough to open it.

Looking at the message again, I decided I wouldn’t have opened it, either.

Yes, we’re that paranoid. Oh, and yes, I can be that stupid.

At least I didn’t write: “Click here to see my photos.”

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Loren McDonald
Date: 2012-09-04 18:39:41
Subject: Email Consumer PSAs

Ken - I actually did propose a consumer education program and Web site a few years ago as part of an initiative ... but it never went anywhere...
Posted by: Bill McCloskey
Date: 2012-09-04 17:32:40
Subject: Thanks for the Mention Ken

People trying to target email professionals have gotten incredibly sophisticated in their phishing emails, mentioning companies and other recognizable names in the body of the email messages. Just because we are paranoid, doesn't mean that aren't out to get us. :) Bill
Posted by: Ken Magill
Date: 2012-09-04 16:46:56
Subject: Thanks, Loren

Agreed. I've always thought phishing would make for good PSA spots. But apparently, it's not a feel-good enough issue.
Posted by: Loren McDonald
Date: 2012-09-04 16:32:20
Subject: Paranoid - a bad thing?

Nice story Ken ... ultimately I think that the more that consumers - and not just industry insiders - are paranoid is a good thing. But rather than just being paranoid - having consumers be more educated and more aware of potential malicious emails is a good thing. If no one clicked - hopefully the bad guys would through in the towel.

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