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.’