Vocus Response on White Paper E-Mail

The following is a statement from Bill Wagner, chief marketing officer from Vocus:

First, I’d like to apologize to those who have received our email who weren’t interested in receiving these sorts of correspondences from us.  It wasn’t our intention to send out unsolicited emails to bloggers.  The fact that we focused our white paper on the blogosphere; enlisted support from leading experts in the field; and are addressing this response to bloggers is an indication of how seriously we take this emerging medium and our intention to get it right.

Given all the discussion around the “Five Golden Rules for Blogger Relations” whitepaper, I would like to clarify a few points:  our aim was not to target bloggers or journalists with our email and we didn’t pull a list from Technorati.  We sent the email to customers of Vocus, including users of our PRWeb service, and to PR/Marketing people who have opted-in to our communications.  In retrospect it’s pretty clear that we could have done a much better job telling our customers who the email was from and why they were receiving it.

The reason we wrote and distributed this white paper is because many of our customers have expressed an interest in learning more about engaging with bloggers.  We were making an effort to provide them with background on this topic, and we did this by enlisting experts like Shel, David, Susan and Rachel (I want to be clear that they had no prior knowledge of how the white paper would be distributed).

We may make other mistakes as we continue to move forward, but it is our commitment to always learn from them and apply these lessons to grow as a company and better serve our customers and others within the industry.


Bill Wagner
Chief Marketing Officer
Vocus, Inc.

Note from Jiyan: If you are interested in some of the other perspectives out there, here are some other blogs on the topic:

  1. Another Blogger Relations Learning Moment from Marketing Roadmaps
  2. Don’t Assume We Know You from the MailChimp Blog
  3. Check out this Spam from a PR Flak from copyblogger
  4. What Happens when you Spam Bloggers from the Marcom Writer Blog
  5. Follow up on Vocus Email from Toivo Lainevool’s Random Thoughts



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  1. on May 23, 2007 #

    I’m still puzzled as to why you assumed that everyone who uses PRWeb is a “public relations professional.” David Meerman Scott, one of your white paper experts and a guy I’m sure Bil Wagner chats with occasionally, wrote a great PDF over a year ago regarding the use of press releases by non-pr folks, such as bloggers, entrepreneurs and small business people. You should check it out.

  2. Ether Breather
    on May 23, 2007 #


    You are absolutely correct. There is a huge chunk of PRWeb users who are not PR professionals. There is no dodging the fact that this was simply a mistake, plain and clear. We are going to take all measures to insure that this sort of mistake does not happen moving forward.


  3. on May 23, 2007 #

    As I said on my blog, I thought the white paper very good. I’m impressed you admitted to your mistake.

  4. on May 23, 2007 #

    Kudos for owning up to the mistake.

    After going through all this I thought I might actually go and read the whitepaper. And guess what – I have to give all my contact information to get it. You already have my email address (after all you did send me an email). Why do I have to enter it again?

  5. on May 24, 2007 #

    I too was surprised that you are even collecting information on the White Paper, much less sending it out unsolicited.

    If, as you say, “customers have expressed an interest in learning more about engaging with bloggers.” That statement in itself I would doubt is true.
    However, even if that is the case, then post the White Paper on Vocus.com or PRWeb.com without collection information.

    Was the intent to serve or sell?

    The intent was NOT “educating our customers on best practices for media and blogger relations”. The intent was to collect information from customers, and see what the need was for future communications.

    I guess that has been answered.

    As a large PRWeb customer (I assume, although that may be a mistake on my part), I have no intention of downloading the white paper. If you feel it’s important, then send it to me.

    FYI, I have been very happy with the relationship I have and continue to have with the PRWeb staff and management. It’s the Vocus relationship that worries me.

    That being said, I do thank you and respect you for taking the time to response to the comments.

    -John Ellis


  1. What Happens When You Spam Bloggers (Hint: It’s a Small World) » B2B MarCom Writer Blog - May 23, 2007

    […] to add: Read Bill Wagner’s, CMO for Vocus, response to this snafu. He did this the right way: admitted they made a mistake and what they learned from […]

  2. An ongoing Press Release › Oops. Vocus made a mistake and has taken responsibility for it. - May 24, 2007

    […] Here’s the official response and links to the buzz. […]

  3. An Army Of Bloggers Can Ruin Your Day | Oxford Media Works - May 25, 2007

    […] be fair, the company owned up to its mistake and even offered a fairly reasonable explanation for what had occurred. As it turns out Vocus acquired PRWeb last year. The email in question was […]

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