A Cold Blast From the Past

We haven't had any new entries for the p.r. wall for some time. Don't know if folks are getting better or we just haven't been paying attention. But today's package deliveries brought back memories of the halcyon days of the late '90s when I was covering manufacturing software, the Internet was just cranking up and everybody had more money (especially if it belonged to a venture capitalist financing a cocktail-napkin business plan that had .com somewhere in the verbiage) to spend than was good for any of us. 

Ah, those were good days to be a business journalist! Overnight delivery services brought us closets full of free t-shirts, really nice pens, leather notebooks, stuffed animals, coffee mugs, 3-inch thick pads of sticky notes and Lord-knows-what other gew-gaws--accompanied by a press release touting the newest wonder product. It wasn't uncommon to get three or four overnight letter envelopes a day, each with a single page in it containing nothing more than a ho-hum product announcement.

But times change. Economies change. Values change. At least I thought they did until today.

Here at the home pop stand, about a half-dozen sturdy boxes, 15" x 20" x 3", each weighing over a pound, delivered by a national ground-service package delivery company showed up on editors' desks. Oo-o-o-o!! Just like Christmas, we all thought. (Editors can be simple souls. Show us something shiny, and we can be easily distracted from mundane duties such as copy editing.)

We opened the boxes to discover the Ghost of 1999.

Inside was a die-cut model of the company's product (which couldn't have come cheap), a single-page press release, and a memory stick embossed with the company logo, containing an electronic version of the press release, a data sheet and photos. The wonder product in question? A labeller.

I'm sure it's a good product. The company in question has been doing this a long time and has a good reputation, but somebody in marketing and/or p.r. needs a good slap upside the head. 

Hadn't they heard there's a recession on? Don't they know we're all doing more with less? Didn't anybody check to see how much this fairly lame attention-seeking gambit was costing? Not to mention the number of trees killed and gallons of gas burned just to amuse bored editors on a Thursday afternoon. Hasn't anybody there heard of email?  This was just a really, really wasteful campaign. Maybe nobody would have thought so in 1999, but that was then. This is now.

Welcome to the 21st century, folks. Get a grip.