Sunday, 1 February 2009

#80 – Read the press kit

Or take something in before it goes in the bin.

Half a rainforest
I often say that I hate press kits. This isn’t quite true – what I hate is the amount of them that I am given and expected to carry around with me. On some trips, it will feel like every place I visit is intent on giving me half a rainforest (plus cap, pen, T-shirt and DVD) to fit in my already burgeoning bag.

What is a press kit?

For the uninitiated, an explanation is perhaps in order. A press kit is material given to a journalist by a tourist board/ attraction/ hotel. It is supposedly filled with lots of useful information about said destination/ attraction/ hotel, but they vary dramatically in quality.

Good press kits
The most useful ones are tailored to journalists and cover new angles, openings, potential storylines and lists of interesting information. They’ll also have a map. Some editing will have gone on, and it will be merely a reasonably large pile of paper.

Bad press kits

The least useful ones pack in every glossy brochure that has ever been printed about the destination – all clearly aimed at the tourist rather than the journalist. They feature lots of nice pictures and next to no useful information. Oh, and they also come with gifts such as items of clothing you’ll never wear, bulky local delicacies that will never be allowed through customs and something ridiculously inappropriate like a paperweight.

The hotel bin
At least 90% of these kits, both the good and bad ones, will end up in a hotel bin. Sorry chaps, but there’s no way I’m lugging that lot around with me. If I really want it, I shall ask you to e-mail the document over when I get back home. This isn’t to say I don’t read what’s in them, however.

A job for the evening
I always try and make a point of looking through the press kit, usually in the evening before dinner or when I get back in at night. This is partly because I’m a bit weird and find it quite relaxing, and partly it’s because it’s worth it. There are almost always two or three good story angles to be found within them.

Applied skim-reading
I won’t read through every word – it’s very much an exercise in applied skim-reading – but I’ll usually manage to glean enough inspiration for things to go and check out the next day. It’s time well spent – just ditch the t-shirts and paperweights.

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