News in a flash

Emily Letterman, Features Editor

When Springfield Business Journal President and Chairwoman Dianne Elizabeth Osis handed me a section of PVC pipe with an orange ribbon around it, I didn’t know what to think.

It’s not everyday someone hands you such an item in the office.

Removing the end cap revealed a USB flash drive from the Missouri State University Ad Team. The drive contained a press release about the group’s upcoming energy challenge and a short video.

About 10 minutes later, SBJ Editor Eric Olson handed me a USB flash drive encased in bamboo on a leather lanyard from the Rainbow Network. The drive contained similar press materials about the group serving its 40 millionth meal.

Are press releases on USB flash drives becoming a trend? If so, I wouldn’t object. In fact, I think it’s a brilliant idea.

As a working journalist, I get a lot of press releases. I can safely say, our staff gets hundreds each day. The majority of those are via email. The outliers – those that walk through the front door, those sent via fax machine or those passed out during a press conference – are a bit tricky in paper form.

I’m not gonna sugar coat it, they are a pain in the butt. Why? Because we have to retype the information. In this digital day and age where a large percentage of the population gets their breaking news via social media, every second counts.

There’s also the upside of having other data on the drive, such as the video from MSU. When SBJ photographer Wes Hamilton attended a press conference at Big Cedar Lodge last month, he came home with a 1GB USB flash drive filled with aerial golf course photos.

It’s really a win, win, win situation for journalists and public relations professionals. Companies get their message out and we get the information how and when we need it, as well as a free USB flash drive in the deal. However, the whole notion of deposable tech makes me wonder what’s changed.

I remember buying my first USB flash drive my freshman year of college. It was 512MB, cost me $60 and I was so cool. I carried it with me everywhere. Fast forward 11 years and businesses such as Hotel Vandivort are giving 8GB drives for free.

Is tech cheaper these days? Is the American attention span getting smaller? Are people more environmentally conscience and trying to save paper? Are marketing gurus getting more creative? I think the answer is yes, to all of the above.

The SBJ editorial staff is amassing a small collection of USB flash drives from companies across the Ozarks.

The SBJ editorial staff is amassing a small collection of USB flash drives from companies across the Ozarks.

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