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The Public Relations Society of America represents 20,000 or so professional communicators, who communicate to the public about their clients’ products and services. Judging by the tsotchkes, the industry isn’t in great shape.
Here’s what I got besides an assortment of cheap pens and a lot of chocolate kisses:
– a yo yo from TEKgroup
– a cool but impossible to use multi-lingual calculator/alarm/calendar clock from Burrelle’s/Luce that opens automatically and removes their name from view while you are using it. I don’t know why a media distribution service gave away calculators.
– a box of “finest quality” New York collection macadamia-nut chocolates with a North American Precis label slapped on the upper right corner. Huh? I left them in the press room.
– a BulletLine mini-stapler from LexisNexis, whose URL is nowhere on the box or the stapler. Since they are an online service, I would expect something related to computers, not paper.
– swuishy rubber stress reliver thingies from Vocus PR and ARA Content.
– a pack of cards from TrackData, with no visible contact info or URL on the box or the top card.
– a thing that looks like a vibrator from PR Newswire. very weird.
– a pack of matches from listlogix (I bet that broke the bank.)

– a plastic photo viewer, key chain thingie from a hotel in Miami.
– a thing for sweeping crumbs off the table (huh?) from Cisco Systems
– a pedometer from Syracuse University’s School of Communications, who was there recruiting late career Master’s Degree candidates. The box said “Every journey begins with a single step.” They handed out cool insulated travel coffee mugs with the same slogan at the coffee breaks. That’s a keeper.
– most of the pens and pads were pretty crappy, except a nice silver one from Biz 360
– and MarketWire was giving away reporter’s notebook and cookies and brownies from Mrs. Fields. Don’t know why, but I enjoyed the sugar rush.
PRSA had a paper cut out of Bush and one of Kerry and you could have your picture taken with either. They didn’t bother to set it up with professional lighting or even a decent camera, so people came out bright red and shiny. They also had a straw poll where you could vote for President.
As of 4 PM on Monday, it was Kerry 73% and Bush 23%. This is a communications organization and they can’t use free polling software that gives results in real time? Oy.
A vendor, who insisted on remaining anonymous, complained bitterly that PRSA buried exhibitors away from the action, “refusing to support the people who pay for the conference.”