This is not a brothel...

I think I'm going to get in trouble for expressing my opinion so stridently, but I'm going to put up a page on my site for people who want to send me Press Releases. It's going to have this picture on it.


It really pisses me off that press people consider me an outlet to push their marketing messages. It upsets me that people in the world can look at me and only see ways that they can scavenge some limited advantage through which to push their agendas. They see my personal expression, my unadulterated opinion and they think they can use it as a host for their parasitic bullshit.


Worse still, I'm not sure they understand how revolting I find the whole thing. I'm not sure they get that I don't consider it part of my life's mission to carry the messaging they want to distribute. I don't think they understand that it's an insult to me for them to think that my voice is so apparently for sale. I find it degrading, patronising, cynical. It makes me want to hurl.


One of the absolute worst things that has ever happened to my blog was an article last year that named one of the UK's most influential blogs. I think it was on The amount of crap I received from people who now viewed me as a useful and exploitable commodity put me off writing for months. Longer maybe. Being viewed like a piece of meat by people who wanted somehow to carve off a little of my feeble authenticity. Disgusting.


Anyway, it would be difficult for me to say that getting sent lots of press releases consituted a real invasion of my life, or that it compromised my existence. But it did spoil a pleasure. It did sour a joy. It made me come to dislike one of the things that had been a particular pleasure in my life, and for that I'm furious.


So I'm putting up a page for people who want to send me press releases. And it will say this on it. For as long as I have it up, will never display anything that I'm asked to display. I will write about my employer only when I want to, when I'm proud of something they or I have done, not when I'm asked. And I will absolutely never talk about something that I receive through a press release, or as a consequence of someone giving me a freebie.


There has to be one place in your life where you're absolutely resolutely not for sale. For me, that place is my personal site, the representation of me online. I'd no more let someone else compromise that voice than I'd let them tattoo their logo on my children.

  • Elana Centor 8y

    As someone who started my career as a journalist in the 1970s I am bemused by this conversation. I think that journalist trained bloggers take a very different view of news releases -- I see them as nothing different than a blog post I might read and want to link to and give my own perspective. The difference - the news releases come into my email box and the blog posts I discover.

    I have no way of knowing whether the original poster of the blog got their info from the vilified news release.
    I read lots of blog posts - that may have been created because of a news release-- that I skip. However, once in a while there is a post that captures my imagination and I link and share.

    How is that different from going through news releases and deciding whether the information is relevant to my readers?

    Okay, so that's not how you want to do research for your blog. You don't trust news releaes -- but are you checking everyone else's blogs that you post to to make sure they were influenced but news releases?

    While there is abuse, I think that is a different issue. To me, the issue is a mindset that news releases are "unpure" and that is just silly.

    You are discerning. You can tel the difference. Sometimes a news release has news and sometimes its exciting news and sometimes its something that you want to write about.
  • Mark Coker 8y

    Tom, as a PR practicioner for the past 20 years, I believe PR can be a noble profession. Many reporters and bloggers who have worked with me and my firm over the years appreciate the value we provide. We have helped spark hundreds of bi-directionally fruitful relationships between clients and media. We've helped millions of people discover useful products and services that they otherwise may never have discovered. We've helped entrepreneurs build great businesses that worked for the social good and provided livilihoods to many employees and their families. We have a code of ethics written right into our employee manual that requires all staffers to be honest at all times with clients and media. And I know my firm is not alone. There are many good PR people out there. But like lawyers, politicians, bloggers and any other profession or passion you can name, there are always bad seeds among any group. Please be careful not to paint the entire PR profession with an overly broad brush.

    Best wishes,

    Mark Coker
    Dovetail Public Relations
    Los Gatos, CA
  • Chritopher de Beer 8y

    Flip.... reading this thread is like reading and entire blog on its own. :) And i must say I found it very insightful, as a newbie blogger ( the novelty hasnt yewt worn off, and I hope it never does), Its nice to hear whats going on from both sides :)

    When going though your weblog, I noticed how the above "this is not a brothel" pic was one of the only pictures on it, but its definitely very appropriate for the topic.

    Thanks for all your insights :)
  • Andy Polaine 8y

    Ecentor - I work as a journalist as well as blogging and I think you make a good point. But there is a difference in the way PR folks approach bloggers to the way they would approach a magazine or newspaper.

    I think it's the 'under the radar' approach being attempted that Tom is objecting to - the idea that they can spread a message without bloggers being aware of it as with Keeneypr's comments, for example. That and a real misunderstanding (or cynical use) of the medium (media, perhaps) that they are trying to get in on.
  • Darren Barefoot 8y

    Speaking as a blogger, an occasional journalist and a PR person, anybody who sends a press release to either a journalist or a blogger is dumb as a truck. It's a waste of everybody's time.

    If you can't make the effort to learn about the (new and old) media, to understand if and how they want to be contacted, and then contact them personally, you need to change fields.
  • f.lickr1 8y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called , and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.
  • adam greenfield 8y

    I wet myself laughing reading PR drones' weak sallies here about "the value we provide" and so on. What value is that, again?
  • Auntie P 7y

    Great photo and fantastic rant!

    [discovered in the photophlow main room] (?)
  • Glen 7y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Kibble - Humanity's Waste and Blots on the Landscape, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Tom Coates 7y

    As an update for people, this kind of engagement with PR people along with a few other things has essentially pushed me to a place where writing was no longer fun. As a result, I've pretty much stopped doing it. I'm still planning to write the odd thing here and there, but the day to day pleasure has just evaporated. I get a fair amount of that joy from Twitter, although the level of the conversation is a little less rigorous. But at least, at the moment anyway, it's sufficiently insulated from all this stuff to keep it entertaining and enjoyable.
  • adam mcgreggor 6y

    fantastic. Love it. The pic, and the comment.
  • Iain Croll 6y

    Oh and on a separate note and back to the picture - My friends live here - they sent their Christmas party invites out with a picture of the sign on the front :-)
  • Tom Coates 6y

    Ha! Really!? That's an awesome place to live.
  • Iain Croll 6y

    It is although not that awesome - hence the sign ;-)
  • Coal and Ice 5y

    I find the image amusing
  • -Steve Roe- 5y

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Mr Digby's Cabinet of Curiosities, and we'd love to have this added to the group!
  • Nils von Barth 5y

    Dear Tom,

    Thanks so much for sharing your excellent image; I’ve posted it at Wikimedia Commons at this page.

    For those wondering about the story of this image: this is on the door to the home of Sebastian Horsley, in Meard Street, London, England. Sebastian was a rather outré artist, who often wrote about drugs, sex, and prostitutes, hence this sign, referencing Soho’s history and reputation; his autobiography is titled Dandy in the Underworld.

    More subtly, Sebastian was once crucified in the Philippines, and the cross on the door in the background of the sign perhaps alludes to this.

    I recalled passing this door in Soho and hoped to share it (some research was required to find out its story).

    More proximately, Sebastian died the day before yesterday (17 June 2010); you can read more about his life at the Wikipedia page and links thereof, or of course by searching.
  • Lee Hall 5y

    Great pic.

    Have used it on my satirical news website with a link and credit here:

    Please share the story if you like it,

  • boopman65 3y

    Great photo but one helluva effort to read all these comments!
  • Robin Dude 2y

    Tom Coates

    And before I say more, are you still working for Yahoo?
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