Actually, there IS such a thing as bad publicity; let me show you it

by Erin on February 28, 2008

I get a LOT of press releases, all clamoring for me to push something on this blog. Somehow last year I made it to some list of the Top Fifty Fashion Blogs (number 37! represent!) and now everyone and her intern has my email address.

Now, I don't mind a GOOD pitch, but I don't get very many of those. (Most of the good pitches are for books, which is probably because book publicists actually READ.)

I do mind a BAD pitch. What makes a pitch bad? Lots of things. The worst are pitches that make it embarrassingly apparent that the pitch-er has never read my blog before. Do I feature jewelry consistently? No. What makes you think I will start doing so for your product? Do I breathlessly report the doings and wearings of starlets? No again. So why would I be interested in your report of a C-list personage involved with your product in some way? And, more importantly, why would the people who read this blog be interested?

Sending out hundreds of badly-worded, badly-targeted pitches is spamming, no more, no less. What really gets me is that these poor designers are brainwashed into thinking they need to PAY these clueless "PR reps" to piss off bloggers and editors for them. It's shameful. (If the goal was to piss off editors and bloggers it'd be cheaper and more fun for the designer to just go around and egg everyone's houses.)

A little while back I got this pitch. (Client name blocked out to avoid giving them any publicity, even the bad kind.)

Check out our exclusive photo of Rumor Willis wearing a $32,000 ring, designed by —— —–, the hottest jewelry designer out there.

[note: I have never heard of this designer.]

The ring is almost 4CT in diamonds! Rumor drooled over the ring when she recently stopped by —– show room.

We would love to see this photo on your awesome blog! You guys do a great job!
Call/email me with any questions..

Kate Long
PeakPR Group

Yep, that was the whole release, word-for-word, and exactly as sent to me (minus client name and rep's contact info). First of all, there was no link to the photo to "check out." If I WERE interested, I'd have to write back for it. Dumb. (Of course, that's much better than the PR reps who insist on cluttering my inbox with eight .jpgs all named things like JPG001.jpg!)

My blog is called A DRESS A DAY. I write about sewing and vintage: not exactly an upscale lifestyle. Why are you sending me press releases for hugely expensive diamond rings? My last CAR didn't cost $32K.

Also — "Rumor" Willis? If even I, disassociated as I am from tabloid culture, know that her name is spelled "Rumer," how dumb do YOU look?

And Rumer is famous solely because Ashton Kutcher is her step-dad. This does not mean she is a style arbiter. Again: why should I (or anyone) care?

One more thing: It's pretty apparent that I write this whole blog all by my lonesome. Why use "you guys"?

For some dumb reason (I blame low blood sugar) I replied to this PR missive, pointing out the above errors, explaining that their releases did not inspire confidence in their services or their clients' products, and asking to be taken off their list.

Then, I got this gem back:

My intern sent that, thanks for pointing it out.

[Worst. Excuse. Ever. So you're charging your clients ... for work done by interns? That you evidently didn't check? And you're advertising this fact? It's not the intern's fault, if she is an intern. It's yours.]

By the way your English have been "are not applicable."

[I wrote "I'm the only person writing [my blog], so "you guys" is not applicable." Which is less correct than the sentence above, apparently.]

Also, we rep 160 retail stores, so we are very inspired..

[Quantity equals quality! We all know that.]

They happen include major leading fashion designers.

[That sentence no verb.]

Clearly you should be more polite regarding a simple spell check, it is clear your blog is amateur,

[Which is why ... you wanted me to feature your client on my amateur blog?]

you never know the help one needs on the way up. Politeness is the door to success.

Sincerely,
Christine Peake,
CEO, PEAKPR GROUP.

That last bit just kills me. I always assumed KNOWING HOW TO DO YOUR JOB was the door to success; politeness just oils the hinges of that door. I think Ms. Peake and her PEAKPR group are pushing (hard) on a door marked PULL.

This (replying to stupid pitches pointing out their stupidity and asking to not be sent any more stupid pitches) probably falls under the heading of not teaching pigs to sing (it wastes your time and annoys the pig). But, damn, rank incompetence annoys me! How hard is it to do a little RESEARCH? Spend a little time reading?

For a much better rant on this subject, check out Chris Anderson's. Be sure to read all the comments for your RDA of other-people's-cluelessness.

{ 63 comments… read them below or add one }

standgale February 28, 2008 at 4:48 pm

I wouldn’t say that their reply was terribly polite either. Technically polite perhaps in that there was no swearing or name calling, but not ACTUALLY polite. Kind of catty and bitchy actually. Plus, how come they can’t write basic sentences? Companies, especially those involved in PR, should have people who can write send or check emails before they go out. I think the fact that the CEO replied to your email might imply that only a handful of people, perhaps only these two, are involved in the company. Normally a CEO wouldn’t bother with sending a bitchy email – would they?

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Michelle February 28, 2008 at 5:24 pm

Damn! I had to read Ms Peake’s reply severaly times to even understand it … and I still think I don’t get most of it. What I did understand struck me as very impolite though. I don’t think you can win with people like this.Good for you standing up for yourself!

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Anonymous February 28, 2008 at 5:42 pm

Perhaps Ms. Peake has a non-English-speaking Japanese intern writing ALL her e-mails.

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oddharmonic February 28, 2008 at 5:46 pm

It seems like that PR firm ignores the maxim “Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.”I don’t think I’d retain a PR service where the CEO answers customer feedback. That sends mixed messages about the company’s priorities.

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Sara February 28, 2008 at 6:00 pm

If there’s anything I hate more than ignorance and rudeness, it’s people who are ignorant, rude AND grammatically incorrect. I wouldn’t put that on my blog if they paid me.

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~Tessa~Scoffs February 28, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I enjoyed your dissection of that bad PR pitch. My pet peeve is being called a “guy.”

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Nora February 28, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Erin, did you just coin that “pushing (hard) on a door marked PULL” gem? Because I want to know who to credit when I start using it all over town. It kinda sounds like it could be the title to a Loretta Lynn song.Those emails…I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry. I guess they ain’t heard the rumer about grammer.

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Nora February 28, 2008 at 6:52 pm

…heh heh, or is that “whom to credit?” Grammer is hard.

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Dr. Birdcage February 28, 2008 at 7:02 pm

I lived in Asia for almost five years and I would guess this is a native Mandarin speaker. :)

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Katana Barnett February 28, 2008 at 7:30 pm

AHAHA. Pushing hard on a door marked Pull. Yeah, I’m going to use that. And it was a well-deserved rant which I enjoyed being privy to. Thanks!

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Caremel February 28, 2008 at 7:49 pm

Some people you are sad are not physically present because you just want to SCREAM at them. This may be one of those times. This is also a good thing because that would not be terribly polite and probably wouldn’t end well.

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RachelMM February 28, 2008 at 7:50 pm

Okay–that was REALLY funny!

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oracle February 28, 2008 at 7:58 pm

Ha! Ha! Ha! I’m afraid I grinned quite hard reading it all, but of course you also have my empathy. And correcting the English of the editor of an Oxford Dictionary, were they! (Sorry, I’m rusty on exact title and title and am too tired to go check to prevent embarrassing myself!)My sense also is that the writer is a native Asian-language speaker.Although what’s lacking in the writer’s grasp of English is roughly equivalent, in quantity of what’s missing if not in kind, to the 25% or more of fourth year university students my best friend teaches whose level of literacy falls below that of two of our aged parents, one of whom never finished high school, and the other of whom never went beyond Grade 8. I’m not even sure some of these students have even achieved Grade 6 literacy, to tell you the truth.I’ve seen the essays, and it worries me.

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Anonymous February 28, 2008 at 8:03 pm

“Pushing a door marked pull”– I think that is from a Far Side cartoon. There is a kid pushing really hard on a door marked “pull,” and the door closer is visible on the outside of the door. The sign on the building is “Midvale School for the Gifted.”

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Anonymous February 28, 2008 at 8:45 pm

ah, this reminds me of the good old days in a publishing-company-that-shall-go-unnamed….the editors on either side of me would yell (literally) at the nitwit lazy PR people who would a) send completely useless pitch letters and then b) call to follow up. Oh, the pounding on desks! the hollering! the slamming down of phones! it was kinda fun, in a twisted sort of way….

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colleen February 28, 2008 at 8:50 pm

Hmmm. Poor writing skills in a field that depends upon the written word?In my experience, PR people tend to be the pushy types. But the best ones are pushy, but usually sweet when they’re being such, and oh-so-grateful when you follow through.

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Lauren February 28, 2008 at 9:03 pm

People suck.

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Ana February 28, 2008 at 9:21 pm

Oh how I love it when unfailingly sweet and *polite* Erin grows a thorn.I too have been the victim of moronic PR missives. Someone should compile them into a book. I vote for you, Erin!

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Binkle February 28, 2008 at 9:32 pm

That original message is right up there with the insurance offers which have large letters on the envelope which say “You could save up to $156.46 or more!” *shakes head and walks away*

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Zoltar Panaflex February 28, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Your excellent blog is ‘amateur’ while she’s got some mythical ‘intern’ with the surname Scapegoat writing out poorly thrown PR nuggets?I’d say that’s much more amateur.And I love the parting shot – politeness!To have been polite would have been for the “PR CEO” to say simply sorry to misdirect to you, enjoy your day.I mean, anyone can type CEO.I myself am the CEO of my house. Nyaah…

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Anonymous February 28, 2008 at 11:35 pm

Nothing boils my blood like ignorance. I’d be plotting to take them down, but if there is any justice in the world their stupidity will be their own undoing.

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RodgerPM February 28, 2008 at 11:50 pm

Uhhhh.Wow. If I had known that I could become a CEO without good grammar or spelling, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time studying for my spelling tests.

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Bean February 29, 2008 at 12:45 am

“That sentence no verb.”bwahahahaha!!! *zing*

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Jen February 29, 2008 at 1:58 am

aww shucks,Found the little PR buggers with a quick ‘google’ search, and what a pathetic web search it was.what kind of pr company has NO publicity?well, looks like it’s a wee little business in Santa Monica (that’s L.A. @ the beach for those of you in the snow),OK, the whole thing was sooooo L.A., but hey, I just bet they are all transplants from somewhere else.I’d like to give you THEIR email address, but hey, you can google it yourself!

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Anonymous February 29, 2008 at 3:57 am

You said “reply to pitches” Can I make a correction? You should have said “reply to bitches”

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Marge, Born Too Late Vintage February 29, 2008 at 4:10 am

As always Erin you handled that missive of stupidity with style and grace. Blaming the intern for their faux pas. Hmmm, that sounds so familiar.

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Yvonne February 29, 2008 at 5:07 am

And the beautiful thing was that the email sent out by the “intern” – despite being misjudged and getting a name wrong – was a superior missive to that sent by the “CEO”. Can’t help but laugh!

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bani February 29, 2008 at 7:23 am

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. But it does prove my theory that there aren’t enough farmers in the world. Let me explain. Once upon a time a large amount of the population had to work off the land to feed everybody. Now, that work is done by very few, with the aid of a lot of machinery and “efficient” farming techniques. So we have a surplus of people with nothing meaningful to do, and therefore we get “jobs” like “porn actor”. Also, Ms Peake.

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Theresa February 29, 2008 at 7:31 am

I am a Public Relations person – for a very good cause — Quality of Life Programs for Soldiers and their Families. I ALWAYS research the RIGHT media for the MESSAGE. I aks nicely for coverage in local papers, etc. and PAY for ADVERTISING a lot more than going around and pissing off editors. I know better; I used to be one.

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tea February 29, 2008 at 8:36 am

If there were enough time in the day, I’d send the whole correspondence to the company Ms. Peake is representing. This, however, may do no good as the jewelers may be just as moronic as the PR firm they hired. Then again, Ms. Peake may very well be the CEO, the intern, and the diamond designer’s wife (or 12-year-old sister)–all wrapped up in one multi-tasker. Sad, sad, sad. :(There was a time in my life when I very much wanted to be an English teacher so I could save the world from horrific miscommunication, misuse of the written word, and general idiocy. Then I learned what a daunting and insurmountable task that would be, so I decided to go straight for editor. This way I can just fix it my own damn self and not worry about having to teach anyone anything.

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Lydia February 29, 2008 at 8:47 am

I’m with the group who will now include “Pushing hard on the door marked pull” in general conversation.

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DivaJean February 29, 2008 at 9:14 am

I also cannot wait to see when/where the moronic article about Rumer Willis shows up. ‘Cause y’all know it will…

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dance February 29, 2008 at 9:57 am

Hi Erin,Your post pointing out their bad business practices and bad grammar is #5 on the google hits for “PeakPR”. Good revenge. You are just offering quality information to anyone who might be interested in hiring them.

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Anonymous February 29, 2008 at 10:35 am

Once upon a time a large amount of the population had to work off the land to feed everybody. Now, that work is done by very few, with the aid of a lot of machinery and “efficient” farming techniques. So we have a surplus of people with nothing meaningful to do, and therefore we get “jobs” like “porn actor”. Also, Ms Peake.”Porn actor” is a very important job. Someone paid a lot of money to schill a product that no one really *needs*=not important job.

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Anonymous February 29, 2008 at 11:09 am

They picked the wrong person with whom to tangle.

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Juliana February 29, 2008 at 11:25 am

As someone who works in PR, I am completely embarrassed by Ms. Peake’s utter lack of talent and professionalism. Good on ya, Erin.

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Miss Cavendish February 29, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Fascinating. It’s humorous how the writer takes you to task for grammar, when her own grammar is questionable. Don’t even get me started on the absent semi-colons. But really, grammar isn’t the point; it’s the writer’s bad attitude that’s so offensive. Her company sent you an inappropriate pitch, and she followed up rudely.

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Anonymous February 29, 2008 at 3:03 pm

I you. that is all.

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Cheryl February 29, 2008 at 3:53 pm

Ugh! Whatever Erin- your blog RULES and so do you! I barely get my computer turned on before I’m madly navigating to Dressaday.com. “You guys” keep up the good work!

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crankyisgood February 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm

The response you received is absolutely priceless. I really, really love that she has absolutely no idea that aside from your “amateur” blog, your day job is in publishing dictionaries (forgive me for not recalling exactly what your job entails)–and dares to incorrectly correct your grammar. She must have used Word and seen a squiggly red line on the screen! SMRT!

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Dim Sum Diva February 29, 2008 at 6:13 pm

A quick Google informed me that Peak PR’s tagline is: We Get Your Story Told Loud and Clear. Awful cluttered website, too. Coming from a PR background, I am appalled by those answers. The company must be incredibly successful to have the ‘CEO’ reply personally to comments from ‘amateur’ bloggers.

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Marjie February 29, 2008 at 6:32 pm

I have been nown to correct notes home from schools and mail them back to the schools. That’s even worse than a PR hack who can’t write the English language. (No one should wonder why I homeschool my 2 youngest, or why I taught grammar for 3 years to my 7 oldest.) I’ve also been known to ask “telephone spammers” for their phone numbers so I can report them to the government for violating the “do not call” list. Would that they had a “do not spam” list!

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Kate February 29, 2008 at 8:07 pm

I am a native speaker, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what this sentence MEANS:By the way your English have been “are not applicable.”Seriously. I recognize all of those words, but they make no sense put together that way.

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beangirl February 29, 2008 at 10:06 pm

PR Pitches From Hell. A book in the making, most definitely.

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Anonymous March 1, 2008 at 1:43 am

It that’s their CEO, it explains a good many things about the original spampost…Fair play to you, telling them. Everyday spam is bad enough without having extra spam to your blog as well!

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Henriette March 1, 2008 at 5:05 am

It is just TOO funny…

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Bitchface March 1, 2008 at 11:47 am

Yup, my colleagues are inconsiderate idiots. A bonus for you is that most of us who work in fashion communications are also dead inside. At it’s start, this was a career track that was occupied entirely by out of work journalists. We now find ourselves without a competent scribe in the bunch. I sincerely apologize for the immense pile of shit you must have heaped on your inbox. Hopefully, nobody has your phone number. The last thing you want is to be on one of those phone lists.

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CEMETARIAN We Dig Memories March 1, 2008 at 1:05 pm

BWAHAHAHA…….you tell em Erin…….and just for the record, I didn’t have a clue who this Rumor/Rumer was. And even after to said Ashton Krutcher was her STEP-dad, I had to back up to realize that I MUCH prefer her BIRTH-Dad………droolll……but I couldn’t care less what she wears or where she wears it.

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anthrokeight March 2, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Your post on PEAKPR is also Google’s number two hit if you type in “pushing hard on a door marked pull.”Tee hee!Were I the CEO of a PR firm specializing in internet communication (heaven forfend), it would distress me not a little to realize that someone’s “amateur” blog- their RECREATIONAL BLOG- is better written and better edited than the original “professional” release sent out by one of my interns.

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lorrwill March 2, 2008 at 3:01 pm

Pardon my French, but what a douche.One has to wonder what Christine’s native language is. Clearly not English. In a similar vein, her poorly worded, fragmented respond begs the question: which remedial school grade did she drop out of?Peake PR Group seems to aspire to be nothing more than the new Spam King.Oh yeah, dim sure sum mad skillz she gots.

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oonaballoona March 2, 2008 at 4:11 pm

WHAT. A. GREAT. POST!!!! i love it. nothing intelligent to add to the conversation, i just had to say that. i live in LA and i am so very sick of all that PR BS.

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another Erin entirely March 3, 2008 at 7:34 am

How about sending the emails to to the poor saps that are paying these people to promote them? Would that be too mean? I mean, I can just imagine this tiny jewelry outfit being all psyched that they are to the level of (ooo, ah) hiring a PR firm, and really the company can’t even write a sentence or maintain professionalism in correspondence. I’ve had a very similar experience in email correspondence with a fashion company. That’s one reason I stick to costuming for theatre, and stay away from fashion. Scary people!

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Hana March 3, 2008 at 1:33 pm

That’s unbelievably bad.Not really their writing skills or the fact they are promoting something completelly different from what you’re interested in (even though those things are really bad, too), but the arrogance in their reply! Unbelievable. But I guess this aspect of their personality also explains the previous two problems…

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Margo March 3, 2008 at 2:10 pm

Loved the post! Erin, you said your efforts are probably wasted, but look how much you entertained us and how well you aired your mind. I adore opening junk mail, writing notes such as you did, and mailing them back in the postage paid envelopes. I love letters and stamps, so I appreciate the free opportunity to air my mind AND donate to the USPS!!

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jen March 3, 2008 at 10:48 pm

i’ve had a somewhat difficult day at work so thank you, THANK YOU for that piece of entertainment. i’m so very glad you responded to that stupid email! :)

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Hana March 4, 2008 at 6:50 am

Oh dear! Now I noticed it… bad, bad spelling! When “rumor” is mentioned for the second time in the original e-mail, I took it for… well, rumor! And then I was wondering what sense it probably could have. Haha.

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Kathleen March 11, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I gave up last November and posted standards for PR people. Other than sending them a link to that post (submission requirements), I don’t bother responding anymore. I tell you, I thought the apparel industry was bad but PR has hit an all time low. I’m not kidding when I say that I suspect most “firms” are being run out of dorm rooms and that they outsource the majority of their correspondence to the dorm janitorial staff who speak English as a second language. Okay, I was kidding about the latter. But not the former.The odd thing is, they all seem to think they are very very clever. Before, when I still responded to them and they treated me as tho I were inordinately stupid (for failing to appreciate the value of what they’re doing), I used to remind them that Marketing majors have the lowest GPAs on campus. Then it just got so very dark, having to explain what GPA meant etc. Now, I send them a link to my submission requirements. If they fail to follow guidelines, I ask to be deleted. If they continue to annoy me, I call their boss (assuming they have one), them, or file a complaint with their hosting provider. Works like a charm! I’ve gone from getting over 100-150 pieces of this crap a day, to maybe 10 or 20. Very manageable now.

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Anonymous April 10, 2008 at 1:43 pm

i would READ THE COMMENTS to your blog before sending out the link to people! hahahhahahajokes on you!

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Anonymous April 10, 2008 at 1:43 pm

i would READ THE COMMENTS to your blog before sending out the link to people! hahahhahahajokes on you!

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Anonymous October 11, 2008 at 7:33 pm

You know, after reading the peak pr website, I’m unconvinced that these are the people who spammed you. Although I see problems of a different sort there, namely in the logic on their ‘STAR’ page, this company seems to be composed of a couple by the names of Ken and Pam, who have been in business since 1990. I don’t know who’s using their business name, but if I were them, I’d be mad. Maybe you should forward the e-mail exchange to them. :)

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Anonymous December 11, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Christine Peake is an absolute train-wreck. She and her staff are as incompetent as they come in the industry. Absolutely no one takes her seriously.

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Anonymous April 22, 2009 at 6:21 pm

its so funny that you have to approve the comments before you post them. this blog makes me think 1 thing:you’re a cunt.

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Erin April 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Hey, Anonymous, I only need to approve comments on old entries, to keep out as much spam as possible. You can call me all the names you like, from your nice little anonymous perch. Have fun!

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