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The PR Pundit: Don't get attached to attachments
by Eric Ward, President of

QUESTION: How do I properly send attachments to the media via Email?

Eric Ward's response:
The short answer is that you don't. Ever. It's considered a huge breach of etiquette. However, let's discuss a little deeper.

If the target of your Email is someone whom you do not know and if the email address you are using was not provided to you by that person, then it is never, under any circumstanes, proper to send an attachment. Ask permission first. Wait until permission has been explicity given to you.

If the target of your email is a journalist whose name and email address are listed in the 'contact us' section or masthead of a magazine or Web site, it is still NEVER acceptable to send them an attachment without permission. A plain email yes, an attachment, no.

If the target of your email is someone you have sent email to before, but never an attachment, it is still NEVER acceptable to send an attachment.

Wondering why I'm being so difficult?

Several reasons. First and formost, it is impolite to assume that the recipient of your email has the needed software to read your uninvited file. Even if they have the software, how do you know they have the disk space to handle your absurdly large attachment and images? And if they do, do they really want 60 percent of it taken up by your one message? Nope.

Second, it is in MS Word attachments that the majority of all macro viruses reside, and these easily written and spread viruses propogate far faster than anti-virus software can catch them. I run auto-scan in my inbox and have had it miss many viruses.

Third, and this is perhaps more important than the first two, the act of sending an unsolicited attachment to someone you do not know tells that person you do not care about their time. It says, "I needed to get this news out and I didn't care to verify if anyone wanted it." It says, "I really don't care if the people I'm sending this to can read it." And lastly it says, "I don't care if I infect your machine with a virus."

What a great message to send, eh?

There really is only one scenario where you can send an attachment via email to someone's inbox, and it's remarkably obvious:

If the target of your email is someone who has told you personally that they want you to send them these attachments.

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