Campaign Blogger Relations Etiquette
Being a political blogger during election season is getting to be rather infuriating, especially if all you want to do is check your email.
In addition to the robo-calls that James Joyner laments, the modern campaign season also gives rise to my own personal pet peeve, unsolicited “email updates” from political campaigns.
It’s a phenomenon that started during the 2008 campaign, but which has really picked up steam this year, and most political bloggers I’ve talked to have fallen victim to it to some extent. Whether you ask for it or not, your name gets put on an email distribution list for political campaigns across the nation. So far, I’m receiving regular email updates from candidates in Delaware, Florida, California, Colorado, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Maryland, as well several of the contested Congressional campaigns here in Virginia even though I don’t actually live in any of the districts where there is a seriously contested election. I’ve also ended up on email distribution lists for several third party groups acting on their own on behalf of candidates in dozens of elections around the country. In none of those cases did I actually sign up to be put on a distribution list.
It can get pretty annoying at times. During a recent debate that I wasn’t even watching, one political campaign that shall remain nameless (although I can say that the candidate in question is not a witch) sent me at least a dozen “fact check” emails, the obvious purpose of which was to spin some point or another made during the debate. If I was actually interested in the race at this point, or if I lived in the state in question, it might be understandable. When you’re not, and your cell phone keeps beeping because yet another email has arrived while you’re trying to watch a baseball game, it can get pretty annoying. The only good thing is that these emails go to an account I set up five years ago specifically for blog-related matters, otherwise actual important personal email would get lost amidst a flood of campaign emails, most of which are ultimately designed to get me to write about a race or a candidate that I’m not all that interested in to begin with.
I can only imagine that this phenomenon will get worse as the 2012 elections approach.
So, here’s an idea for a “New Media Relations” manager working on a political campaign. Rather than just blindly signing up bloggers who you think might agree with you to get emails they didn’t ask for, send us an email asking us if we want to be added to the list. It’s the polite, professional thing to do. Otherwise, I might have to make good on a half-joking threat I made on Twitter earlier this week:
New rule: The next campaign who puts me on an email list w/o asking gets a donation…..for their opponent.
Other than public shaming, that may be the only appropriate way to deal with something so unprofessional.