Press releases, press releases, press releases …

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by Björn Schöpe

October 4, 2012 – What a lovely day! 8:00 am, work starts, the sun is shining … well strolling around outside or swimming would be great, of course, but after all, preparing some press releases about new coin issues, events and exhibitions isn’t bad either. Hence, let’s take a look in our email list what we have to do today.

This one seems to be important: an auction right this week, we absolutely must report on it. So let’s download the attached file … a pdf, mhm. However, at least there is all information we need, and it is appealingly designed. Well, maybe not so appealingly, but who cares anyway. I care about the text: no other way, I have to copy the list of the twenty-five most prominent lots into Word; there are many paragraphs and strange symbols – it will take half an hour to clean up this mess. And the images? Naturally I can’t take them directly from the pdf file. But certainly they will be online. Yes, that works! But finding the auction, clicking into the lot’s details, saving the images, proceeding with the next lot … Puh. Was it really necessary? Ups, what is this? The date in the text does not correspond with that one on the website. But which one is correct? On the website they give completely different days! Let’s fire away and write an email, the contact person is always glad to be of help. And by the way, I ask for high resolution pictures of four indicated lots for a printed text we will publish too. So, we save our files and wait for the answer. Time for another press release.

Invitation to an exhibition opening. Fine, looks great. They have even sent a word file I can easily manage. But is there any more information at hand what exhibition it is exactly? The time is given, the place, but what kind of exhibition is it? Web browser – open up! A nice museum, nice exhibitions, but nothing about an opening in this date. So, to what exhibition might it refer? Maybe it is time for another email. Oh, and the time shift between Europe and the western USA – before tomorrow I can’t expect an answer. No problem, we need this text only the day after tomorrow. Let’s hope they answer soon. Or are there holidays? A vacation? Well, we’ll see.

What’s next? Just an email, no link, no attached text. We are kindly asked to report on a new book, titel, author, publisher. Why not, at first sight the title sounds interesting. But – money talks, and this email does not talk about the price. Mhm, the publisher’s site gives the price, but no ISBN. We can check out a big online shop, and another one … no ISBN, does this book really lack an ISBN? Don’t think about it too much, too many emails are still waiting to be dealt with before lunch. OK, let’s take the text, rather short (let’s hope the book is good enough to speak for itself, this text won’t gain much interest from these three sentences and a kind of table of content), copy an image of the cover and insert the information available. And let’s hope for the best.

Oh, another auction preview! Great. Even the images are attached. For online publishing we do not need any high resolution, so this is fine. But what image relates to what lot? Damned, why haven’t I ever studied Chinese coins of the 18th century more thoroughly, I don’t even speak Chinese (what I want to say is, actually, not only I don’t speak it, I can’t even read the signs, shame on me …). Maybe I could check out in the standard book, or why not write a master thesis on the subject, the texts are stimulating. No, forget it, idiot! We are just preparing the auction preview, time is money. But the images, what the heck are these strange coins? Uff, let’s go to the website. Can we search by lot number – no! Why not??! Ok, let’s try by year of issue, grading, face value … Oh, yes, now finally. Another quarter of an hour, only to assign the right captions to the images. At least this is done.

No answer, yet? Let’s be more patient. I have not even read the eight emails received in the last two hours as I saw from the corner of my eye. Now, what else to do? A new managing director of a mint’s commemorative coins department. Well, well, nice news. A photo attached, a text as word file – but a lot of formatting, logos, fixed elements. Quite pretty – but useless in this case. So we delete all this stuff. And a link to the director’s profile would be appreciated too. No link? Mhm, on the website there is no press section, or – oh, yes, here in the corner, quite small: media. But no press releases, the last one is from summer last year … Ahem, ok no comment. But maybe in the section ‘We’, no, ‘Persons’, ‘Staff’, ‘Team’ – nothing at all … ‘Contact’: Press officer. Another email? No, well then, no link. Why don’t they show the persons, at least those they publish press releases about?

Oh, did I see right? An email I should open immediately: corrections of the last auction preview I have just prepared. Wrong date: six weeks later. Guys, why do you send it out now?? Who cares about it so early? So we save it and try to remember in our agenda: drag it out in two months! Otherwise no one will ever remember this future event.

Oh, attention that must be important – a nine MB email. Oh, at a second glance a bit disappointing, I had not asked for all these high resolution images, I don’t even want to publish that text since it does not concern our readers. Why not ask in advance, whether we really need nine MB of images, three pdf files and two versions in word and rtf in English and French, anyway?

A new email: the auction preview. Four high resolution images and the correct date – yes!! But – what is that? I never asked for an image of this Roman Imperial denarius. I don’t want it. I wanted four images, I even indicated the lot numbers, two Greeks, one mediaeval Helvetic coin, and a marvellous piece-of-eight. But of the latter there is only the obverse, the reverse clearly belongs to another coin, and instead of the Sicilian tetradrachm I received this denarius of Vespasianus. Hell …! Another email.

Oh, it is time for lunch. Let’s see later what there is still to do. Certainly enough emails to write, to read, to write again – and all that to get the information we need. Could it not be much simplier? Send a simple email, attach a pdf but better add a non formatted word file, maybe you can give a couple of low resolution pictures, whoever needs further images can ask. Or, even better – you know, one always can improve! – send also a link where to download pictures. In any case with clear, unequivocable captions and file names, please – you make our life much easier.
And the mistakes? That is only human. We all make mistakes, and believe me, I know what I am talking about as you may have noticed in the past … But anyway, one might read an email or the texts a second time. It does not always assure the elimination of typos or other errors. But sometimes it does.

And of course: all these examples have nothing to do with me, my life, or all the great people I am working with. It is pure fantasy, kind of a dream; but anyway, sometimes fantasy may give us some idea about how to change the world. Let’s hope we change it for the better.
And now – off for lunch!