There’s a post rocketing around Facebook from Ragan’s PR Daily (http://bit.ly/10ZgwEj) purporting to list the “ten signs you are an old-school PR pro.” As far as I can tell, it is being read and shared mainly by old-school PR pros. Anyway, I have reviewed the items on the list, and I would like to take issue with a few of them.
The list includes something that the post’s author obviously thinks is akin to using an abacus: Scheduling appointments on a Palm Pilot. Evidently, if you used to do such a quaint thing, you’re old. This brought me up short because I don’t think of a Palm Pilot as being particularly old. I gave my last one up nine years ago when I got my first Blackberry. To me, nine years is a mere spasm of time but I suspect not to the author. The Palm Pilot is still within the bounds of recent memory. Had she said “Filofax,” I would have snickered appropriately but the Palm reference was merely ironic.
The list also includes “Editing press releases with a red pen.” While I know my way around the “Track Changes” function in Microsoft Word, my preference is to edit with a pen — don’t much care what color. That’s because I prefer to edit in the pantry near my office, where I can have a cup of coffee and work unmolested by electronic interference.
Another tactic deemed archaic by the author is “Conducting Press Tours — In Person!” Well, landogoshen, ain’t that a hoot? In person, ya say!
C’mon, my boss is not an avatar and neither is the reporter he met with yesterday. When did this become an “Insert Tab A into Slot B” business? It’s all about people — real people and relationships. Still and always.
Finally, the list impugns physical press kits with photos and business cards. I agree: This is absurdly old fashioned, but that’s what I like about it.
Okay, I admit it. I love to stuff press kits and miss the days when I did it on a regular basis.
Long after I had attained a title that innoculated me from such a menial task, you could still find me in a conference room, walking around and around, plucking this press release, that fact sheet, a product photo, a company brochure and sliding them neatly into a logo-festooned folder. Then I’d start the next one.
It’s not that I had any high-minded notions of there being dignity in any job well done (not that I would argue with that) but the act of circumnavigating a conference table and assembling the ingredients of a press kit is utterly mindless work. In this mindlessness, I often found inspiration.
Freed from the distractions of the phone and email, my mind could wander wherever it chose, and it often chose the place where my most vexing problems huddled together in darkness. What’s the big idea that will win that new account? How do we address the over-servicing problem on the Acme client? How come you can’t wear a yellow tie after Labor Day?
The press kit Maypole dance provided me with another big benefit: It was stress-free. Forty-five minutes of stuffing was, for me, better than a power nap. In fact, it amazes me that we squandered this task on our most junior staff. The overall mental health in most agencies and PR departments would be greatly improved if their leaders stuffed press kits twice a week.
So, do you really want to know how to tell if you are an old-school PR pro? Here’s how: Not much throws you for a loop because you’ve seen it before and you know how to fix it. And your boss knows it.
Categories: Random PR Thoughts