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Stupid Media Watch: You, Hypocrite


By Ken Magill

So is it okay to spam as long as you admit it and show some remorse? An editor at TechCrunch apparently thinks so.

In a piece headlined "I, Spammer" TechCrunch editor John Biggs began: “As I approach the half-way mark of my crowdfunding project, [A project to fund a novel he’s written] I wanted to address the thing that makes me feel the worst about this whole process: the spam. As I intimated in my last post, moving from passive content producer to active content salesperson is hard. As someone used to fire-and-forget posting, convincing others to buy something I’ve built is a hard thing to do. And the best way to do it, sadly, is through spam.”

So as long as it’s for a good cause, spamming is okay. As distasteful as it may be. Right?

Thing is, Biggs wasn’t spamming. He was sending his requests for funding to a permission-based list.

“These lists consist of people who have signed up for my various projects, and folks I’ve met in my travels. They know me and many have the ulterior motive of staying friendly with a TC editor,” he wrote.

Then again, maybe Biggs was spamming. It’s a safe bet that his messages’ recipients didn’t sign up specifically for crowdfunding pitches. Moreover, since some “have the ulterior motive of staying friendly with a TC editor,” one could argue he’s using his position as a TechCrunch editor unethically.

If so, then he should stop. But email works, so he won’t.

“I’m amazed at the reach and power of good old email,” Biggs concluded. “It sucks but it’s true: spam works and it works well. In the end a nice message, carefully wrought, results in far less blowback than a wonky diet pill email, but the process is the same. Like it or not, direct email is a crowdfunder’s best friend.”

Kind of makes you want to punch him, doesn’t it? Here he is stumbling upon the magic of direct-response advertising via email and his big takeaway is: “It sucks.”

I emailed Biggs to find out what his definition of spam is and if his definition reflects that of TechCrunch’s editors and readers. I have yet to hear back.

I suspect Biggs finds selling distasteful in general and considers all commercial email spam.

And here is my beef with Biggs and other writers like him. Did he think his articles for TechCrunch and other publishers just magically drew readers? Where does he think his TechCrunch paychecks come from? Rainbow unicorn dollar fairies?

His paychecks come from marketing—as much as that concept sucks.

And, yes, among the sources of revenue that feed his paychecks is email. TechCrunch has a daily email newsletter.

Boy, does that suck. At least if you don’t understand that behind every paycheck stands a group of people doing the work Biggs finds so distasteful.

And now he’s the one doing it. And it makes him feel icky. But not icky enough to stop.


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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: Jim Ducharme
Date: 2014-01-07 16:25:27

Sales and marketing is only icky to those who don't have any confidence in their ability to do it right/well. It's an excuse for their own shortcomings.