Political spam: No way this can possibly work

The other day I got an email from Chrystia Freeland. At first, I thought that it must be part of a new strategy by the Liberal Party to reach bloggers and other online media.

“Fair play,” I thought. I get quite a bit of unsolicited emails from various groups, promoters and artists – all part of the game when you have a publicly listed email. This was the first one from a political party.  So, the Liberals added me before the others, good job! At least that’s what I thought at first.

Then I opened the email. It wasn’t sent to my Forget the Box account, but rather to my personal email. Also, it wasn’t a press release, but rather a fundraising plea. I’ve received similar emails from the NDP, quite a few in fact. But that makes sense, because I was, at one time, a member of the party. That has since lapsed, but I never told them to stop sending me stuff.

I have never been a member of the Liberal Party or even voted for them – well, once, but I was young and didn’t know any better. I live nowhere near Freeland’s riding, either. There’s no other word for this email but… SPAM!

I took to Facebook almost immediately, asking how such a thing may even be possible. The response I got was that I had probably signed a petition that was CCed to Justin Trudeau. That’s got to be it!

But why am I not getting the same crap from the Conservatives? After all, if the petition was CCed to Trudeau, it was probably sent to Harper. Well, let’s say it was the petition demanding an inquiry into Missing and Murdered Native Women. The Conservatives clearly know, that my signing that petition clearly means I’m not a potential supporter or a source of cash.

The Liberals, on the other hand, do support such an inquiry – though not as strongly as the NDP, but that’s besides the point. So, someone like me, who signs that petition, may be someone who could end up supporting them. I can think of a good way they could have followed up: By sending a message to all those who signed, thanking them, stressing that they, as a party, agreed with them, and providing them with a link to sign up for LPC emails. They could even have kept my email address in a database for future releases on the topic.

Instead, with no warning, I get put on a list of potential donors where all the language assumes that I’m already a party member or supporter. I get email mentioning something about Freeland being a journalist, followed by a money ask with no mention that the Liberals support something that they now know I do too. Instead of thinking “Hmm, Trudeau agrees with me on a particular subject, I wonder what else he agrees with me on?” I’m left wondering how the LPC got my email and what to do about their spam.

Liberal fundraising email

Honestly, I’ll probably do nothing. I could, as another commenter on my Facebook thread suggested, click unsubscribe, but that may only lead to their confirming that my address is legit. Even if it doesn’t, I really couldn’t be bothered. As I said before, I get so many emails already, many that I ignore, what’s a few more?

Sure, for a while I may be intrigued by and open to them, just to get a sense of the party messaging, only to get bored with them and start ignoring them at a later date. I know NDP fundraiser emails generally include a bit of why I should want to give them money, but the ones I received from the Liberals don’t have anything about why I should even vote for them. The one from “Trudeau himself” did have a bit, but only at the bottom, after the ask.

The email I got from them just a few hours ago had as a subject: “This is bad.” What was bad? The way Harper was ruining Canada’s reputation yet again? Something else shady the Cons were doing? No, the horrible thing that needs to be rectified by midnight tonight is the fundraising gap with the Conservatives.

Well, maybe if you had first established whether or not I was interested in your succeeding or at least tried to give me a reason to be interested, I might have found this situation dire as well. Unfortunately, you didn’t, so I really don’t care.

For every person like me, who has the time to figure out how this happened, write a post about it, and move on, there are probably five or maybe ten people who does not feel that the LPC sees something the way they do and instead feels like the Libs are a bunch of spammers. It’s just not a good tactic.

To be fair, I don’t think the Liberals are the only ones who do this. I get NDP money asks legitimately (and they were also pushing the fundraising deadline of midnight tonight, though less frantically) so there’s no real way for me to tell if they do the same thing, and I don’t think I’ve ever supported anything by Harper & co., so no reason to get anything from them, either.

No matter who’s doing it, though, political spam is just unproductive. I understand the need to raise money, but potential donors need to be wooed, or, at the very least, you have to make sure they show some interest in the ideas you’re selling. Then, and only then, can you justifiably bug them for money.

Oh, and by the way, press releases can be sent to jason@forgetthebox.net

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