The art of the PR bung

As amusing as the story is about Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s “” reaction to the Presidential bomber jacket – it does highlight the challenges of the public relations pressie (or bung as it used to be affectionately known).

As I wrote last December, freebies are the stuff of legend in motoring PR – where in the 1970s, it was known for cars, televisions and other extravagant offerings to be presented to journalists at the end of an event.  (Rumour has it that “ladies” were even available for “road testing” on some launches.”

I believe that today it is more usual to pick up a branded pen and notepad on a car launch – but over the years a great deal of effort and resource went into giving “gifts”, even to the extent of “” between the car companies.

My own experience was less glamorous – for the Peugeot 605 launch, we decided to include the press pack inside a branded brief case.  I had the bright idea of changing the security code on each one to 605 (from the standard 000).  Hence many hours spent opening cases and twiddling fiddly digits – only to have numerous hacks complain they couldn’t work out how to get into the cases. 

Branded clothing is always a tricky gift – not many journalists would do more than mow the lawn in a car launch sweatshirt.  In Brown’s case, although it is unlikely to be worn at all, I can’t see the offending item turning up on eBay. 

That is unlikely to be the case for motoring journalists’ unwanted gifts today.  Where once upon a time such items ended up in local jumble sales, even press packs now appear on auction sites.

It is hard to believe that anyone would want to buy a scruffy old press shot from the 1980s – but they do.  Anyone for a Samsonite briefcase, if only I can work out how to open it…

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Heather Yaxley PhD

Dr. Heather Yaxley is passionate about sustainable careers, reflective practice and professional development. I am a rhizomatic educator, practitioner, consultant, academic and scholar. As a qualified academic, I teach the CIPR professional qualifications with PR Academy and have experience teaching at various Universities. I run the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA) and my own strategic consultancy. I was awarded by PhD researching Career Strategies in Public Relations by Bournemouth University in 2017. I'm a published author, with books, chapters and academic papers to my name.

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