When I first started working for a public relations agency some twenty years ago this month, one of my jobs was to come in early to the office to read the major daily newspapers. When I would come across an article mentioning one of our clients, I would use an X-ACTO knife to cut out the story and piece it together neatly so that it could be photocopied onto 8 1/2″ by 11″ paper — and then faxed to our client contacts.
Needless to say, this was neither efficient nor pleasant. As it turns out, newspaper editors didn’t layout their papers to accommodate this need. When I needed part of a story on both sides of a single page of the newspaper, I would sometimes need to go to the nearest newsstand to pick up an additional copy for cutting.
Of course, there were plenty of stories not in the handful of papers that we subscribed to at the office. That’s why we used to contract with the traditional paper news clipping agencies that would have teams of people who would read papers from all over the country and follow the same mechanical cutting process. We would then get a package of news clips in the mail every few weeks. Talk about inefficient and untimely!
Fortunately, the PR industry has come a long way in the last two decades. I haven’t held an X-ACTO knife in my hand for many years — and although they were very nice knives, I don’t miss it!