Of all the tired and tiresome phrases showing how we misunderstand, disunderstand or disregard our audience, the phrase “e-blast” probably tops (bottoms?) the list. I’ll hear people say “we’re going to send an e-mail blast” or “let’s do an e-blast” and I wonder … that doesn’t sound very respectful or considerate of our audience, does it?
If we Google the definition, it basically describes an act of violence:
Do we want to create “a destructive wave” toward our audiences? Are we admitting that what we send is just “a strong gust of air”? (Maybe this is more applicable than some realize.) Or we trying to “blow up or break apart” valued customers? Are our e-blasts indeed “a loud continuous … noise” that leaves our audience “expressing annoyance”?
You’re not blasting your audiences — you’re communicating with them. At least if you really care about your audience. And you should. Every day we are bombarded with messages, often via emails, and it may be clear when we feel like we’re being “blasted” and when somebody is actually trying to communicate with us. In addition, so much professional communication isn’t one-way any more — you want to create a connection, a dialogue, a beneficial relationship. You shouldn’t want to blast everyone unfortunate enough to be on your email list. We’re all busy enough without having to deal with misdirected emails — I get everything from people selling fundraising tips to lab animals (!) — and you should respect that time is a very precious resource.
“Why is this important?” you may ask. The phrase “e-blast” or “e-mail blast” is symptomatic of a mindset that communication tools are weapons more than they are interactive channels. We’ve all seen the Facebook pages that are just compendia of brutal copy-and-paste listings, the Twitter accounts that just tweet but never reply or retweet or otherwise engage.
I don’t think of social media as a megaphone, but as a potluck party. Yes, a party … where we all gather, bring what we have to the table, share and learn and nourish ourselves. And along the way, we all help each other, everybody gets fed and life is a little better. There’s no place for blasting … only for conversation, sharing and enlightenment. Isn’t that how we should live in the first place?