Bad PR: The Social Media Stalker

Social media is great. Seriously, isn’t social media great? It lets you connect with people you might not otherwise have interacted with, it gives you access to new and sometimes fascinating pieces of information, it provides a bit of light relief, and, yes, it can be a great tool for marketing and PR.

It’s that last point I have the problem with.

Or, actually, that’s not quite right. I don’t have a problem with sites like Facebook and Twitter being used as a PR/marketing took per se. I can see how those sites could be useful to people in those occupations, and actually, I don’t really mind people using them to pitch me the occasional story idea. Well, I don’t mind too much, anyway. Personally, I tend to use Facebook and Twitter  for the third reason listed above – a little bit of light relief during the working day – but I know not everyone uses them  that way, so it’s not a huge deal if PRs want to use those channels to contact me about something.

What I do have a problem with, however, is a certain breed of PR I’ve come to think of as the Social Media Stalker. I encountered one today, as a matter of fact. In the course of just a couple of hours, this person:

  1. Emailed me a press release
  2. Sent me a friends request on Facebook
  3. Sent me a message on Facebook
  4. Started following me on Twitter
  5. Sent me a direct message on Twitter
  6. Left a comment on one of my blogs
  7. Emailed me the same press release again

Now, taken in isolation, none of these activities is a problem. As I’ve said, I have no problem with PRs contacting me, and as long as they’re polite about it and the thing they’re promoting is relevant to one of the sites I write for, I don’t really care which communication channel they choose to do it. My preference would be email, but I’m not going to get upset if someone chooses to use Twitter instead.

The kind of behaviour described above, though? That’s not communication, that’s bordering on stalking. And OK, when I say “stalking”, I mean it in a harmless “on the internet” kind of way, rather than a “standing outside my house, taking photos of me” kind of way, but all the same, when I get seven emails or notifications from the same person, in the same two hour period, about the same thing, I am going to feel just a little bit harassed by that person.

And – here’s the important bit – it’s not going to make me any more likely to write about the thing they’re trying to pitch to me. In fact, if it gets reallyannoying, it could just have the opposite effect.

This wasn’t a one-off, either. It’s becoming increasingly common for people to use multiple communication methods to try and pitch me stuff, and it’s totally unnecessary. Sure, follow me om Twitter, friend me on Facebook, join every other social network you can find me on, but when you decide to send me a press release choose one method of communication and one only.

Otherwise, sorry, but I’m just going to think you’re a social media stalker…