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Technology

Return to sender

When you move home, you probably arrange to have your postal mail forwarded. It’s worth doing the same if you change your name and your email address. For a while, you’ll arrange for messages sent to your old address to be redirected to your correct one.

How long is a while? For me, three years: I think that’s a long enough grace period for people to process my name change.

Since I’ve stopped getting messages sent to my dead email address, there’s been a massive decrease in the amount of spam I get. I don’t mean unsolicited ads trying to sell snake oil or sex vitamins (although that’s reduced too). I mean badly targeted – or rather, completely untargeted – emails from PR companies.

Most PR companies I deal with are lovely. But many of the ones I don’t deal with are hopeless, and they are the ones who keep sending things to my old email address. They don’t know who I am, what I cover, what sectors I write about or what country I’m in. But that’s not going to stop them from emailing me multiple times.

They start their messages with “Dear Paul,” even though I am not and have never been called Paul, and then invite me to an exclusive telephone briefing about a new vending machine somewhere in Idaho that will vend magic underpants for fish. They will often send the same message from several different people who work for the same PR firm, and all of those people will then send follow-up emails to check I got the first lot of messages.

I try to be nice. I really do. So if I have time, I’ll reply and say “hey, I’m sorry but I think your contact details are out of date and this isn’t a subject or product category I cover. Your best bet is to find the title(s) you want to get coverage in and email the section editors directly”.

To which they always reply: “Can you let me know the email addresses of those editors, please?”

Sure! I keep a Rolodex of Editors Likely To Give A Fuck About Underpants For Fish right here on my desk!

So it’s nice to see that abate a bit. Right now the only PR messages I’m getting are from firms who know my name, who know what I cover and whose products are relevant to the titles I write for. It won’t stay like that for long, but for now I’m enjoying the peace.