I know you’ve seen photos just like this one hundreds of times.
It’s called a ribbon-cutting event, complete with the giant cardbaord scissors, and it’s one of the most-photographed, most boring ways to try to generate publicity.
Equally repugnant are those giant cardboard checks that somebody “presents” to someone else, usually when a company or a group makes a donation. That’s called a check-passing.
It’s a shame that so many uncreative PR people rely on cardboard checks and scissors when they can’t think of a better way to attract media attention for their business that’s opening, or when their organization is making a donation.
Next time you’re tempted to stage an event like these, I hope you’ll consider some better alternatives. Dan Collins, director of media relations for Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, uses a variety of offbeat ideas that are far better than cardboard checks and scissors. He explained them all on the CD we recorded called “Fun Alternatives to Boring Ground-breakings, Ribbon-cuttings and Check-passings.”
—Donating money for new hospital equipment? Work with the hospital’s PR department to line up a patient who would agree to be photographed using the equipment.
—Publicizing a bank branch that’s opening? Ask the local newspaper to photograph the first customer on opening day.
—Better yet, stage a fun event at the bank. How about hiring a magician who can do magic tricks with dollar bills? Alert the media.
—If your organization is donating money to buy food for the local food pantry, ask a reporter to help stock the pantry when the food arrives, then write about what it’s like to work at the food pantry for a day. Inviting reporters to become involved in your story often results in far more interesting stories.
What if your boss insists that you stage one of these events? Then what do you do?
I suggest you take the photo yourself and submit it to a low-level newspaper like one of those free qeekly shoppers that often print those kinds of photos. You’ll save face with larger newspapers that view those photos are unimaginative and trite.