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Enough with the Company Letterhead, Already!

Wall Street Journal columnist Ron Lieber has a question for all you book publicists out there that had us nodding our heads the moment we opened the email:

Lieber writes: Why, in late 2006, must reporters seeking review copies fax their request on company letterhead? Is fraud really so rampant that you can’t accept an email suffix like @wsj.com or @time.com as proof that someone works where they say they work? Or is it not possible to take two seconds to Google somebody’s name to check them out if it’s unfamiliar?

Why make us repeatedly hunch over old newsroom fax machines wondering if the thing got through and when it might be seen by its intended recipient when we’re in a big hurry to put your words in front of our readers? How would you like it if we asked you to fax us on letterhead every time you wanted to follow up on a pitch, just so we could be sure that it’s really you?

How about it, publicists? What’s the rationale behind this requirement—especially in an age where many online publications probably don’t even bother with letterhead? (I used to cobble mine together by pasting my other blog’s logo into the header of a Word document, back when I still had to convince people I was real.) Now, we understand—and, believe me, totally appreciate—that many of you treat this as an antiquated rule to safely ignore, especially in the blogospheric era, but it still shows up on an awful lot of voice mails and “contact us” pages. So fill us in on how you decide to apply or waive the “company letterhead” rule at your office…and don’t worry, we’ll be more than happy to treat you as an anonymous insider if you’d rather not get in trouble with the suits!

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