Hocus Vocus

In the last year, Vocus has gained considerable traction in its efforts to position itself as the media database software company that “gets it.” Yet earlier this week in one of my favorite blogs, Church of the Customer, Jackie Huba took Vocus to task as just another purveyor of PR spam.

“Undaunted, Vocus powered on in its spam-like ways by adding the contact information of bloggers to its system. A few months ago, without warning, I’ve been spammed regularly by Vocus clients like the Virginia Tourism Board and Eight O’Clock Coffee, telling me about some wonderful new campaign. I will use this space to say to the Virginia Tourism Board and Eight O’Clock Coffee: Please, get a clue.”

Jackie makes a number of valuable observations including whether journalists should have the ability to opt-out of (or minimally the option of opting-in to) these media databases:

“Once you’re in the Vocus system, it gets Kafka-esque. Bloggers can unsubscribe from Vocus PR spam, but from the spamming client only.”

She also questions whether the Vocus software actually empowers and emboldens PR pros to send out emails en masse to bloggers with the false security that the software has vetted the “target” recipients. As one of those recipients, Jackie, and many others, bristle at the practice of mass anything to citizen journos:

“You should know that Vocus has simply tacked an old-world model of media relations onto the new-world model of blogging.”

There is no automated short cut to effective blogger relations, just like there isn’t an automated short cut to effective MSM relations. However, good spidering software can at least set you off in the right direction. The engagement part is where it gets tricky.