In Conversation with… Sabian Wilde

Marketing Lecturer. Writer. Music Bod. Claims to have coined 'Perthonality'

Open letter to PR industry body.

with 7 comments

To whom it may concern,

Why is there no ‘opt out’ or ‘unsubscribe’  option on your mail-outs/newsletters/invitation to pay for masterclasses?

I’m sure you are well aware of the legalities of unsolicited email, but a reminder never hurts.

Australian spam law—the Spam Act 2003—covers email, mobile phone messages (SMS, MMS) and instant messaging.

Any commercial message sent to you that doesn’t meet the following conditions is breaking Australia’s spam laws:
Consent—it must be sent with your consent. You may give express consent; or your consent may be inferred from your existing ‘business or other relationships’, or certain other restricted conditions.
Identify—it must contain accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message.
Unsubscribe—it must contain a functional ‘unsubscribe’ facility to allow you to opt out from receiving messages from that source in the future. Your request must be honoured within five working days.

Legality aside, I also consider it a matter of common courtesy — not to mention the obvious advantages of knowing your audience and delivering the message in a format that is both appropriate and useful to the recipient — principles which I believe will probably be included in any Masterclass given by a former PR-XXXX General Manager.

I understand that my contact details would have been picked up during my time as the XXXXX’s Public Relations Officer — a role I have not held for about a year.

Nor am I a member of XXXX.

I have repeatedly asked for my name to be taken off people’s mass mail-out lists, but as usual, there is a reason why people are frequently disparaging about the public relations industry — such as the inability to tell the difference between the size of a contact list and the quality of the contacts on it (what a strangely masculine paradigm).

As a result, my email address is collected, distributed, acquired, repurposed and redistributed by every PR hack using a shotgun instead of a laser for targeted messaging.

Well done.

Oh yes… given that this is the second or third time I’ve been sent this invitation, I feel justified in venting.

Are sales not going well?


But more importantly, take the time to ensure that your emails are reaching the right audience, meet the legal requirements and don’t put your industry into further disrepute.




Written by Xab

Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:03 am

7 Responses

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  1. Two places I like to get information on ethical marketing principles from:


    Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:32 am

    • and of course,


      Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 11:33 am

      • *Curtsies*

        Do I understand this right? PRIA sent you unsolicited email promoting a Master Class? If so, you are right to say this is way out of line.

        According to the Spam Act, if you have not given express consent, they are only able to send it to you if consent can be inferred from a business relationship. If you were still in the PR job, the industry association might argue that there is an inferred relationship. Personally I don’t buy that. Being in the same industry does not constitute a business relationship.

        Regardless of the consent issue, there is a requirement for them to identify who to contact and they must offer an unsubscribe option. I suspect this was an oversight and would be interested in their response to your letter.

        Bret Treasure

        Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 10:56 pm

      • At this stage, there has been no response. This was in response to the second or third invitation to the event. I also received an invitation to participate (pay) for another event from the same organisation.

        What really bugs me about it is that it came from an industry organisation that should be offering ‘Master Classes’ in best practice, or how to not expose your client to marketing techniques that contravene the Act.

        There was a reply email address (which I used) that appears to be valid, but I have not yet heard back from them.

        As noted in my response, I believe my email address was harvested while I was in the PR role (as I’m in the same organisation, I still have the same email address). It’s been ‘harvested’ several times as a result of PR ‘professionals’ too stupid to use bcc when sending broadcast messages seeking assistance or advice.

        I remember being quite disheartened when I learned that journalists were among the least trusted professions (rating lower than politicians, for God’s sake!)… PR people make me long for the earthy apathy of our journos.

        Public Relations (at its best) is an excellent field to work in… as is journalism… but we appear to live in a city of hacks. I have my local heroes, of course, but sometimes I wonder if it’s just competence shining like a bright star in a murky sea of crap.


        Friday, May 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm

      • The President of the organisation wrote to me today offering his apologies and assuring me that I would (a) be unsubscribed, and (b) future circulars from the organisation would include information on how to unsubscribe.
        Another email followed almost immediately apologising for another circular issued from the organisation this morning which I might receive in error.

        I also noted that this thread has received a bit of unusual traffic over the weekend, so at least it looks as though they’ve got their online monitoring sorted out.


        Wednesday, June 3, 2009 at 5:54 pm

  2. “redistributed by every PR hack using a shotgun instead of a laser for targeted messaging”

    That is an awesome quote – I’m going to try and find a way to work that into my client meetings and marketing conversation in general.



    Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    • You’re more than welcome… spread the word!


      Friday, June 26, 2009 at 10:16 am

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