This post was originally published on the now-retired Make & Meaning blog on January 16th, 2010.

paperclips

So I’ve been getting these press releases from the Craft and Hobby Association. They’ve been arriving with increasing frequency and a directly proportional increase in my feeling of annoyance.

Why, oh why, are the events these press releases promote so utterly banal?

I mean, ordinarily, I do expect press releases to promote banal things. Call me jaded.

But I’m working on not expecting banality from businesses in the creative space. Businesses that sell products or services intended to inspire others to create should not put out a press release touting banal promotional efforts. They should put their well-exercised imaginations to the task of creating outstanding promotions, no?

I mean, why try to sell the same-old way if you’re a business founded on doing things creatively? Surely there are promotions that expect more of consumers than their desire to emulate the once-famous or to be the biggest or fastest at something. Surely crafty folks might be turned on by new ideas, twists on old conventions, or some plain-old friendly humour, right?

(Really, a business selling paper clips could come up with some pretty freaking creative ways to promote such a simple product, so do feel free to apply my gripe with very broad strokes.)

pink paperclips

One of the recent CHA press releases had “WORLD’S LARGEST CROP ATTEMPT” in the subject line (all the subject lines are in all-caps, because apparently that seems like a good way not to make someone immediately delete the shouting in their inbox). Even though I’ve since discovered that this apparently refers to a scrapbooking event, every time I re-read the headline I think it’s about agriculture.

Press-release mechanics aside, is the best way to promote scrapbooking really to try for the world’s largest crop? Can’t we do better than to default to trying to make the biggest of something? I don’t scrapbook, but I’ll tell you what I might have felt compelled to pass on to my readers had I found mention of it in my inbox (the purpose of a press release is, after all, to have the recipient pass on its contents):

  • Some group event involving memorializing a common thing like embarrassing or confounding notes other people wrote in a high-school yearbook
  • A gallery of artists’ scrapbooks. (Notice I didn’t say “celebrities’ scrapbooks”, but that I rather prefer to see some outstanding and likely inspiring examples of scrapbooks from wildly creative people.)
  • Some kind of group effort to create something from the individual contributions of scrapbookers and paper crafters. Something like a wall mural for a kid’s wing at the hospital. Something very decidedly not piecemeal-looking and ugly.

If I think my readers will relate to something in a press release, I pass it on. Well, in theory. I’ve never actually done it, though, and all the press releases I get as a blogger are from crafts businesses or organizations (not just CHA; I’m only using it as an example because of the recent spate of releases I’ve received).

We enjoy an industry that exists because of creativity. Let’s apply that creativity to our industry, hey?


Photo credits: Muffet (top, bottom); both CC-A licensed

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