In my office at home I have two rather beautiful 1930s aluminium filing cabinets: both rescued from an old garage, and restored in what I’d like to think are a rather fetching shabby-chic way.
In one of them I keep maps, brochures and notebooks from recent journeys and interviews (you never know, as a journalist, when you might have to produce your original notes to verify facts or quotes).
In the other cabinet, I file press releases that could be useful: there’s one drawer devoted to interiors; another to new hotels; another to spas; and another to African camps. And, in the bottom, there is an entire drawer inhabited by memory sticks.
I don’t know why I say “thank you” when someone offers me a memory stick. Yes, they’re light. Yes, they’re small. Yes, they’re portable. But have I ever used one? No. Never. Not once.
Why? For a start, most companies choose to make their memory sticks look on-brand – and, given that they all are trying to be cooler than cool, most sticks don’t even have a name on them. So they are impossible to identify.
Then, there’s the question of storage. I don’t know a single journalist who has a filing system for memory sticks – and know dozens who’ll happily shove them into a box or a drawer. A drawer that, when you do need to write a story, you won’t be anywhere near. You’ll be in a hotel somewhere, or at home, or another country. Probably swearing about the fact you haven’t got the facts to hand.
We journalists love photographs. Love fact sheets. And love PRs who put them all in one place. But, please, could that place be a section marked PRESS on a website? And could the photos be on a reliable server in a format that’s easy to access?
(P.S. If anyone has any bright ideas about what to do with 300 or so memory sticks, do let me know. Each has had just one not-so-loving owner, has no miles on the clock and is currently parked in a dark former-garage drawer.)