Looking back after 28 years in the public relations business, I find the changes that have taken place in plastics PR truly remarkable. The purpose of PR remains the same — to help the client reach out to customers and prospects — but the industry media that help to convey the client's messages have changed drastically. Consider this:
• When I started my PR business in 1993, 100 percent of the industry media were print publications. With the advent of the internet, the situation has changed to the point where online coverage of my press releases now outweighs coverage in print. The print publications themselves often post a digital version of each issue on their websites, and a few magazines have dispensed with print altogether. In addition, there are industry news websites, e-newsletters, blogs, social media — all focused on plastics and related industries.
• Today's editors and online content managers would be perplexed to receive a press release from me via postal mail and would be unlikely to use it, but in 1993 it was hard copy all the way. With a typical mailing list of a hundred editors or more, I spent thousands of dollars for my clients each year to have press materials copied, glossy photos printed and envelopes stuffed and labeled. The vendors who did this for me are now out of business. For nearly 20 years, agencies like mine have disseminated press releases via email and prepared digital press kits for trade shows.
• I started business in 1993 knowing of a few plastics publications outside the United States and Canada but had no awareness of how extensive the global plastics media actually was. Before long, however, I knew enough to convince clients of the need to produce press materials in translation. Today, news releases from plastics companies regularly go out in the major languages of Europe, Latin America and Asia, and the fees from translation agencies are simply regular costs of doing business. Indeed, the number of international plastics media, particularly online, has grown over the years. One phenomenon has been the entry of English-language publications aimed at global audiences.
Navigating these changes has made my time as a PR representative challenging. It has also been satisfying. My clients have treated me as part of the team, someone with certain skills and experience that can help them reach customers and prospects. It has been great fun to introduce new technologies in press releases and articles, explain how they work and figure out how best to highlight their benefits for plastics processors. It has also been a pleasure to work with the industry press, getting my clients to provide editors and reporters with useful and newsworthy information and meeting editorial deadlines
I have great memories of the sheer excitement of NPE, which I first attended in 1973 and eventually served as PR agent for the 2000, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012 and 2015 shows.
I came to the plastics PR business after spending 20 years on the editorial staff of the now-defunct magazine Modern Plastics, the last eight as chief editor. During that time, in 1989, Plastics News made its debut. Back then I couldn't imagine writing something like this for an "upstart" publication like Plastics News, but today I'm happy to have this opportunity.