PR pros should be careful using tchotchkes in press kits

Putting tchotchkes in press kits is still a debated tactic among PR pros. Whether it's a coconut or cowboy hat, an object can often draw attention to a press release for both the right and wrong reasons.

Putting tchotchkes in press kits is still a debated tactic among PR pros. Whether it's a coconut or cowboy hat, an object can often draw attention to a press release for both the right and wrong reasons.

“With an added object, there's always the risk of marginalizing a pitch,” says Mark Firmani, president of Firmani and Associates. “You have to keep it light, and [PR pros] always should be aware of the opportunity for the journalist to potentially make fun of them.”

Firmani's agency developed a “love/hate” relationship with a local paper in Washington for accompanying pitches for Pemco Insurance with gifts.

One Firmani effort included trading cards of local stereotypes, such as “Ponytailed Software Geek” and “Kirkland Cigarette-Boat Dude,” whereas another project provided a box of woodchips to promote a regional carving contest, Firmani says.

Gifts should, at best, be functional, and compel reporters to call back PR pros, says Stacey Pabis, SAE at Mullen.

“Otherwise, it's a waste of your client's money and your time,” Pabis says, noting an impressive media response from a canvas backpack filled with school supplies sent to education writers on behalf of British Schools of America.

However, in a tough economy with PR budget cuts, as well as an eco-conscious media that may consider packaging wasteful, gimmicks can irk reporters, says Amy Goldsmith, president of GK Communications.

“A well-written release is all you need,” she says, “With waste on everyone's mind, whether eco or financial, it can be a bit of a sensitive issue, even for some large [client] corporations.”

Key points:

Objects can add an element of interest to a pitch

Some media outlets may ridicule PR pros for sending tchotchkes

The release should still be the centerpiece and main focus of the press kit

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