One of the flaws of the Internet is that, despite the great amounts of information out there available to make our lives easier, we don’t really read all of it before taking action. We have become a society of skimmers and at TasteTO we regularly get comments from readers that make us shake our heads. After a month on hiatus where we spent a bit of time cleaning up some back end stuff, I made a post about the changes we had made. We got a pile of comments complimenting us on “our new look”. But – we never changed the look of the site at all. Same layout. Exactly.

One of the things we did change was the manner in which people can contact us. Previously we had a variety of email addresses that were listed all over the site. And we got a lot of spam as bots hit the site and spewed out junk. We also got a lot of unsolicited press releases and attachments for stuff we couldn’t or didn’t want to cover. So we put in a contact form so the emails addresses aren’t out there.

Except that people don’t like contact forms. Especially people who want to send attachments. We could sense their frustration in the message “I need an email address to send you information about a new beverage product.” “Please provide contact info so we can send you a press release about an upcoming food event.”

See, these are the kinds of things the contact form was put there to filter out. You don’t tell me what you want, I’m not going to waste my time replying so you can send me crap.

But they kept coming – people are really either afraid of that message box, or nobody taught them how to cut and paste. So we added instructions that should have made it more clear:

NOTE: PR people – If you need to send us any non-text content (photos, documents, etc.) as part of a PR package, please give a detailed description in your Message and we will get back to you with an appropriate email address for sending attachments. We will not reply to generic messages asking for an email address with no additional info.

Isn’t that self-explanatory? Does that not relay that the sender needs to tell me what the hell they want to send me before I’m going to let them fill my email inbox with potential crap? (And add my email to a mailing list so they can send me more crap?)

It’s not working. We are still getting messages from PR companies via that contact form that ask for an email address to send attachments to without telling us what is it they want to send. I’ve gotten 2 in the past 2 days from the same PR person. The real kicker? Somehow, maybe from a borrowed mailing list, they *have* our contact info. I got the press release from them this morning – stupid pdf file telling me information that could have easily been cut and pasted into that message box on our contact page. Even better, though – the 2nd request for an email address to send the press release to came in *after* the press release showed up in my inbox.

Just like with cooking, if you pay attention and follow the directions, you’ll get much better results.