PR Swag generally refers to a company giving their products to celebrities in the hopes of gaining free press from Hollywood’s elite. I recently found a company called Backstage Creations that rocks the swag. This company is described in one article as a “swag suite production company,” and markets themselves as, “the premier celebrity product placement company.” This company blows gift baskets out of the water! Backstage Creations created the “Celebrity Gift Lounge,” a unique hybrid between the gift bag and the green room. Through this company, corporate clients are given an exclusive opportunity to personally introduce their products and services to celebrities in a room backstage called, “The Retreat”. These lavish rooms are all designed in the name of product placement and, of course, increased sales.
This got me thinking more about the elaborate world of gift-giving that PR has built. From giving expensive gifts to celebrities and high-profile CEOs, companies have now begun to take advantage of our online world. The Twitter Age has created a resurgence of swag. Gifts are now being given to YouTube contributors, online reporters and bloggers.
But when do gifts cross the line? What are appropriate gifts and when do they become as tasteless as Samantha Jones’ representation of PR professionals on Sex in the City?
Here are some simple guidelines to avoid gauche gift-giving:
• Avoid environmentally wasteful gifts: This article is a great example of one company offending an otherwise cheerful food blogger, all because of wasteful packaging. http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2007/11/strong_buzz.html
• Know your audience: Targeting your audience will help you send gifts that will get the buzz out. A mommy blogger obviously isn’t going to write about the newest cologne.
• Keep it ethical: Always follow your company’s ethical policy. A good set of guidelines for all PR professionals are laid out in the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Code of Professional Ethics. Their guideline for gift-giving states, “Preserve the free flow of unprejudiced information when giving or receiving gifts by ensuring gifts are nominal, legal, and infrequent.”