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A dialogue (of sorts) with Netrank.


I have an email from Ellie Precious. On the plus side, that is a response within 36 hours of my original post. Not bad as a damage limitation reaction time. On the minus side, it was an email, not posted as a response to the post, which shows a continued level of not really getting it. So, in a spirit of helpfulness, here is the email, with my responses. I should make clear that this is not response personally directed at ‘Ellie’. As with the first post, any references to ‘you’ should be assumed to refer to Netrank.

Hi there,

Well hello.

I have spoken to my team about your comments and I wanted to respond personally, as you have specifically mentioned me.

Just to be clear, your first email made no mention of a team, or company, it was sent as an email from ‘Ellie Precious’, personally. It was hard to avoid mentioning the name. What did your team think of the post? Now you’ve discussed it, I’d be interested to know.

I am very sorry that my efforts to contact you have been taken in such a way to make you feel manipulated and disliked.

I didn’t feel manipulated. I was annoyed at a rather poor attempt to manipulate me. I never said I felt disliked, which I didn’t. See below.

I can assure you that by contacting you with the age discrimination news, my sole aim was to introduce you to the research and open a dialogue.

This is disengenuous in the extreme. For a start, in what possible way was this an overture to a dialogue? It was a press release, all the links in which lead to fixed pages at Fox Willams with no comment option. Or are you suggesting that you, personally, were intending to enter into an email or phone discussion on the impact of age discrimination legislation on law firms? Given that your company’s recent enthusiastic introductions have generally concerned kitchen appliances and baby apparatus, I think not.

Now, ‘sole aim’? Are you trying to tell me that, out of the goodness of your heart, you were trying to ‘introduce the research’ to people who were interested and that it had nothing to do with raising your client’s profile, search engine rating and search term result, or even just gaining the client publicity for ‘doing age discrimination’? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe you. In fact, do you take me for an idiot?

I also contacted other UK based bloggers that I thought might be interested in the content.

And that worked well. Nick Holmes’ specialist uk law blog search records precisely no results for the research on a search for ‘age discrimination fox williams’. Which brings us neatly back to the point of my post, which concerned Netrank’s methods.

Taking your comments on board, my approach could have been phrased better;

Then you haven’t taken my comments on board. The point is not your ‘phrasing’, but the methods.

however I want to make it really clear that at no point was I hiding who I was or who I worked for. Net-Additions is a small online publishing company within Netrank and I have an email address for both Netrank and Net-Additions.

Disengenuous. You were hiding who you worked for, as the email did not give any company affiliation at all, posing as a personal email. (The original is here, stripped of the press release, but otherwise untouched.) If you consider an email domain to be full disclosure, it is worth noting that has no website and a google search for ‘net-additions’ gives one hit that might suggest what the ‘company’ does, unless you are also a US shopping site.

I work for a search marketing company and undertake online PR as part of my role.

‘Search marketing’ meaning search engine optimiser, I take it.

My work involves looking for blogging sites that I think are particularly clear, informative and above all – human. I and the company I work for do not sneak about when we go about our work.

Then why send an email that posed as a personal email and contained no company affiliation? I can guess. I’ll bet the conversation went something like this:

A – “Blogs are everywhere these days, how can we use blogs as a PR vehicle and attract links and ranking for our client?”

B – “Well, blogs are personal things aren’t they? We should take a personal approach to them, send an email from a person not the company, that sort of thing. You know, the human touch.”

So, I return to my original point. Netrank’s (or net-addition’s) methods don’t work in the blog world. In fact, they are counter-productive.

“Eleanor Precious doesn’t really like me”- I do not dislike you – how can you dislike someone you’ve never met, and I am at a loss as to why you would think this,

Either you are patronizing me or you have missed something. I thought PR people were supposed to get nuance?

If I wanted to say you disliked me, the post would have been titled ‘Eleanor Precious really doesn’t like me’. But it wasn’t. The clue is in the post which was about a faux personal approach, concealing PR flackery. Do you see what I did there?

I am genuinely distraught that my work has caused you offence and to respond with such an attack – I’ve learned a lot from the experience.

It wasn’t an attack, it was a robust comment. Judging by the medium and content of this response, I don’t think Netrank have learnt any relevant thing at all. If you are selling yourselves to your clients as being in any way on top of this blog thing, then Netrank have got a lot of learning to do.

Look at the result of your mail. Response = nada, apart from me and I take it that mine wasn’t what you were looking for. I only responded because I actually have posted about age discrimination in law firms, so for a moment thought this might be a genuine mail, but then you didn’t know that I had posted on the topic, did you?

I’m damned if I’m going to help Netrank get a clue any more. Re-read the first post, assume that any references to feeling betrayed, etc., are a running joke on the theme of a dismally failed attempt at ‘a personal approach’ to PR flackery by Netrank, and have a think about the actual point.

If you want to discuss further, you have my number.

If you want to discuss further, you have this blog. I promise to let your comments through unedited [usual conditions apply].

Best Regards,


Netrank Ltd

Fondly, Nearly Legal
By the way, Netrank use one of those completely useless disclaimer footers, in their case in a pale 8 point font. Fortunately, even if the disclaimer wasn’t ineffectual in practice, it states that

This email is without prejudice, confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual to whom it is addressed

Good. As the individual to whom it is addressed, I’m using it.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.


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