By Princess Jones
As a writer, I’m always searching for people to be sources for articles. Most of the time, it’s a win-win situation for both of us. I get genuine quotes and information from someone who is knowledgeable about the article topic. The source gets to plug their business or organization or cause in a publication.
I love interviewing sources, but I don’t love trying to find them. Sometimes can be a big hassle. Small business owners tend to hide their contact information. But there are good reasons for making your email address easy to find.
You Never Know Who Is Trying to Contact You
It’s not just writers looking to give you free publicity who might be looking for you. It could also be PR reps trying to reach out for sponsorship partnerships. Or perhaps someone might be trying to contact you to interview you on a podcast. You’re open for opportunities, right? Well, make sure those opportunities can actually find you.
Contact Forms Can Be Finicky
Many business owners try to split the difference between being incredibly approachable and hiding contact info by using contact forms. This adds an extra layer between SPAM or bots, but still provides an open portal for those trying to contact you. Contact forms also give you the option of requiring certain pieces of information or adding a CAPTCHA to weed out bots.
Contact forms deliver messages when someone enters the necessary information in your form and your website relays it to the email address you’ve chosen. But how would you know if your contact form wasn’t delivering messages to you? You wouldn’t, unless you tested them regularly. This should be a regular part of your website upkeep so consider assigning it to an employee or adding it to your webmaster’s to-do list.
DMs are Not Reliable
One of the ways I’m forced to contact people who don’t have clear information on their websites is by direct messaging (DMing) them on social media sites. Now, some people think that having this option is enough, but what they don’t realize is that DMs are not comparable to email in a lot of ways.
First, many social media sites limit who can DM you. If you’re not already “friends” on Facebook, messages will go to an “Other Folder” that is separate from all other messages. Twitter requires that you either follow someone or have your settings adjusted to allow anyone to DM you. Instagram remains the easiest to contact strangers but since it is owned by Facebook, you can expect it to change in the near future.
Also, many social media sites limit the length of messages. That makes them more conducive to a quick note rather than involved message. Also many people don’t check social media regularly and if they do, they don’t necessary check message regularly. This is particularly frustrating for time sensitive inquiries. Email would be a better solution.
SPAM is a Cost of Doing Business
The number one reason small business owners don’t make their contact information clear is the fear of SPAM. No one wants an inbox full of erectile dysfunction ads, dating ads, and scams. While SPAM is both annoying and invasive, if you cut off contact because of it, you’ll miss out on the good stuff, too. The more your profile rises, the more likely you’ll get some junk. It’s just part of the process.
Instead of cutting off your nose to spite your face, get better at filtering SPAM. Most email providers come with filters in place that learn as you mark items as SPAM and not SPAM. Make it a habit to quickly scan your junk folder once a week and mark out anything that shouldn’t haven’t have ended up there in the first place.
Also consider using a transactional email for inquiries that is separate from your personal email. For example, you might have an email address at your company: email@example.com. But instead of publishing your email address on the website and press releases, consider using something like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Then you can manage that inbox by moving over relevant mail to your personal inbox or the right person at your company.