PR Sans Internet
Egypt is without Internet service, as service providers have stopped providing access to the Web in this country. As protesters hit the streets to demand President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, their ability to communicate and access information online has been limited, to put it mildly.
As I read about the lack of Internet access in Egypt, I thought of what life for me would be like sans Internet. I'm not just talking about not being able to follow the latest celebrity gossip, pay bills online, or check the box score of last night's Knicks game. I am thinking of what it would be like to do my job without Internet access.
I remember my first job in PR. While the Internet was certainly in use at this time, I did not have access to the Web at the agency I worked for after graduating from college in 1995. Today, submitting a press release to one of the major wire services like PR Newswire take only a few clicks. Back in my early days, putting a release on the wire was a much more complex procedure. Text and tables had to be specially formatted and sent via modem. This was a very labor and time intensive process and not conducive to getting news out in a timely fashion.
Today, with online websites and new services like Google and Factiva, staying on top of the latest headlines is a breeze. But back in the stone ages of the mid-1990's, I recall having to wait for faxes to arrive from PR Newswire and BusinessWire that contained headlines and stories mentioning my clients. I then had to do a literal cut and paste job (with scissors and tape) to format the articles before faxing the clips to my clients.
No Internet meant no email and this meant that the only way to send written materials to journalists was by mail and fax. The mail room was packed at my agency then, as staffers would stuff envelopes and man the fax machines to get news releases, pice to get time sensitive info to the media.
The Internet has transformed the daily routine of folks in the PR industry, as it has for people in just about every line of work. While the current situation in Egypt is unfortunate and not to be taken lightly, can you imagine living and working in a country with no Internet? Try going just one day without it. No Facebook, no Perez Hilton, no Politico.com...no bloggers lamenting about the dinosaur days of PR.