…just before Christmas, I was working from home, writing to the backdrop of blanket coverage on the news of Nelson Mandela’s passing. What an amazing beacon of light he was for so many and will continue to be. His story was on every conceivable medium, TV & radio, print, tablet, smartphone, laptop, desktop, internet, intranet and of course on everyone’s lips – the Postie, the next-door neighbour and the hedge-cutter, who was tidying up the garden for winter.
It got me thinking about how we disseminate the news these days, compared to when I started in PR. I wrote my first press release in the 80s on an electric typewriter, which had the ability to remember one line of text – Tippex was my constant companion! I moved to Shandwick Communications, at a time when it was the biggest PR Agency in the world. From my eyrie office, like an artist’s garret, way up in the gods, I honed my copy on a Mac, well before they were cool and trendy. In fact this was a chunky, clunky monster and we didn’t even have email then! Press releases were printed off in the basement, on huge industrial printers and teams of freelancers came in to stuff envelopes ready for the post.
Fast forward a few years to my stint at The Body Shop International, this was around the mid 90s or a bit later. We had email by then and a fledgling Intranet, but only one person in the whole of Head Office had access to the Internet (she had a penchant for wearing red nail polish on one finger only, you know who you are). Because of my role in the Global Team, I was one of the first to get a login, but it was a slow burn and none of us really had an inkling that the internet would rule our lives in the future! Our inboxes went crazy and the News was full of how execs could continue to function amongst this avalanche of information. But we were still sending out press releases by post!
Royal mail may be out of a job on the press release front, but it’s delivering more and more actual parcels as we buy and sell online, eBay has proved to be its virtual saviour. The worlds of marketing and PR have made an analog to digital conversion. Content is now created, distributed and consumed via digital platforms, the internet and social media have changed the face of PR and made it easier for brands to interact directly with their public. But some things never change, to make the news, you need a good story, good writing skills and a keen idea of strategy and tactics. People do still talk though and always will, so it’s absolutely critical in this digital age, that we don’t lose sight of the human touch, because it goes hand in hand with placing your message in the right place at the right time. Afterall, we’re only human!