THINKPIECE: How can you replace the trusty press kit with web sites when none of them seem to work?

Has the spirit of Marie Antoinette surfaced in the world of publicity?

Has the spirit of Marie Antoinette surfaced in the world of publicity?

Has the spirit of Marie Antoinette surfaced in the world of


It certainly seems so. Some of PR’s most visible practitioners have lost

their heads, especially when they equate web sites with press kits.

The two are not equivalents.

A recent and extensive request for information for an electronic book

resulted in a high percentage of referrals to ’the web site.’ My

mailbox, normally flowing with publicity materials, looked quite

desolate for once.

Perhaps the underlying reasoning was that an e-book requires Internet

data - sort of like matching bookends. That’s faulty thinking on two


First, writers want details and facts, not compressed hype, to shape

their original prose. Second, they want to avoid lifting information

directly from a copyrighted site. And on a more practical note, they

like to mark notes all over fact sheets and news releases. Some of them

even like to sit in a comfortable chair and read kits like books - well,


One government site met the requirements for story research - a big

section was designed for writers with information that was appropriate,

concise, complete and easy to find.

However, the rest failed the test. They were a colossal waste of time,

except to pick up occasional snippets of information missing from a

’real’ press kit. One principal flaw was the lack of basic information,

such as fact sheets and corporate profiles. Another was the time wasted

navigating unfamiliar and poorly organized sites designed for multiple

audiences, including the general public.

Some gyrated with splashy graphics suitable for teenagers. Others oozed

embellishments that pled for accompanying jingles. More than a few had

patches of incomplete information.

Then there were the glitches. Some trapped you in cyberspace. Others

refused to be printed. And designers are profiting from these?

Tenacity tells writers to press on for information. When annoyingly

minuscule boxes opened for questions, you typed requests that were never


Guest books first begged for your signature and then peppered you with

senseless e-mail messages. Finally, you screamed ’No more,’ and resorted

to the telephone, the fax or e-mail for a speedy rescue before your

deadline overcame you.

Oh, for those days when my real mailbox runneth over once again. Despite

today’s technology, web sites and well-executed press kits are not the

same thing - at least not yet.

When they are, then PR pros may say, ’Go to the web site’ as

nonchalantly as Marie Antoinette said to her subjects, ’Let them eat

cake.’ Until then, we writers are more likely to spout about PR pros,

’Off with their heads.’

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