The song “Everything old is new again” was written by Peter Allen and Carol Bayer Sager and was first released in 1974.
The same sentiment can be applied to many of the functions we perform in public relations today and how we did it in the ancient times when I first came into the game.
There is no doubt that the Internet has revolutionised public relations and what we do today, but when I first started in PR it wasn’t a total desert.
The function of the company website of today was filled by a corporate brochure which told the story of the organisation, their history, hopes and aspirations, usually told in glowing photographs of new projects, plants and processes.
Sure, it couldn’t be updated without an expensive print job and you couldn’t use Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and Instagram, but essentially the objective was the same.
The fact that it was static and a new print job was a financial deterrent to an update which made me seek an alternative for Jennings Industries, which was then the biggest building company in Australia and a major client for me at the time.
Their problem was that they were seen as a house builder (which they were) but they were also a builder of major industrial building projects including the remote area housing in Mount Tom Price and the houses in the Bathurst Orange Development Zone.
We endeavoured to solve this identity crisis by producing an annual report that included all these major projects (in superb glowing colour photography), with the financials in a centre section that could be updated at the last minute. This meant that when a major project was being sought this document would be part of the boardroom submission and in the case of an international company they wouldn’t be disadvantaged against their rivals from the UK and Europe.
Colour separations were expensive and I always commissioned a blockbuster picture which I ran across the centre page spread and did a deal with the Stock Exchange Gazette, which went to all listed companies, to borrow the colour separations after we had used them.
Clearly a printed publication didn’t have the same flexibility of a website of today, but it seemed to work OK for Jennings and showed that at least we were innovative enough to use the tools of the time to solve a client problem.