Thursday, May 23, 2013

When a Press Kit is NOT a Press Kit


So I received two emails with one labeled in this manner:

[Press Kit] You are cordially Invited!

At first I felt happy to know that even with the major places-to-go having closed in Malate, there was an attempt to keep the spirit of Pink Malate alive.  Sadly, as I continued to read the contents of the email, it clearly was more about selling a new event which was focused on making more money.

And worse, it was very BADLY written.  Bad enough that I doubt anyone of a professional level went through the copy to make sure it was readable, concise, accurate and properly-written.    I pondered on whether or not to post it here in my blog at first, but soon realized that if I hoped for them to have better written announcements in the future, the least I could do is show how it could have been better written.

I have, however, been told by many friends that the very contents of the email were inaccurate.  Many of them raised facts that the contents of the email had wrong.  And one was even ready to share actual evidence showing the errors of the email's declarations.  Since I personally cannot raise those facts myself, I decided to post my "copy writing" corrections (and I invite people to contribute to this post with their comments.)

I will state that I love celebrating Pride. Ever since I finally came out of the closet, I've made it a point to join the Pride March whenever I can.  I do join the parties when I can as well, but as of the last two years I've started to shy away from them since they seem more intent with getting my Pink Peso than truly celebrating Pride.  Sadly, this coming "12th White Party" seems to still be following that direction.
Manila celebrates 12th White Party
White Party is the name of a number of circuit parties held every year all over the world catering to LGBT communities.

Okay, the opening line could have been more inviting.  I mean, seriously, the way it was written sounds more like a Press Release for an event that has already happened.    The first sentence is just... wrong.  Would it have really hurt them to have opened with a more celebratory feel?  Instead it sounds like "we want to remind people that this event is an international thing.  so it should be worth your attention."  So instead of Pride, it seems to be about fame.
My version:
You are Invited to the 12th Annual White Party!
Be part of another fabulous celebration of Pride as Manila celebrates the 12th Annual White Party!
Their version continues with this:
In the Philippines, White Party started in Malate 12 years ago as a marketing tool for Malate Business Association. Over the years, LGBT organizations are directly involve in its creation. Like most White Parties held every year in Chicago, Miami and Palm Springs, White Party Manila also served its purpose as a catalyst for empowerment, pride, freedom and unity for the LGBT community. The concept of all-white clothing theme was chosen by co-founder of Miami White Party Frank Wager because, as he said, "White stands for purity. White is elegant, non-political, non-combative and makes people look just plain beautiful".
The sentences are just awkward.  Would it really hurt to have made sure there was proper syntax and construction here?  And some tenses need to be adjusted, or you risk making it sound like the fight for acceptance and equality is already OVER.  Lastly, it still feels like a name-dropping moment.    Now, there are already many who refute the claims in the very first sentence.  I'll let my friends post what they have to say about it (Admittedly, I was not around to be a witness to the true roots of the White Party celebrations in the Philippines) so I will focus on rewriting this as if the content was accurate.
My version would have been:
12 years ago, the Philippines celebrated it first White Party and over the years numerous LGBT groups have united their efforts to continue its annual celebration.  The White Party continues to serve as a catalyst for empowerment, pride, freedom and unity for the LGBT community.  The concept of an all-white clothing theme traces its roots from the co-founder of the Miami White Party, Frank Wager.  For Wager, "White stands for purity.  White is elegant, non-political, non-combative and makes people look just plain beautiful."
I feel horrified how the current version just sends all the wrong signals for this event which is meant to be unifying and celebratory.  The current version continues as follows:
This years' White Party Manila will be a celebration of feats won by the large majority of LGBT. The passing of RH Law from whence the community is strongly supporting is one of them. 
Okay.  Feats.  A celebration of feats.  What have we truly accomplished that falls under a celebration of feats?  We don't have Marriage.  We don't have anti-discrimination laws.  We don't have any legal standing as far as gender rights are concerned.   The RH Law is a law for everyone, not just the LGBT.  Or do we want to give the impression that those against the Law were right about it just being something we wanted for our own goals, such as access to those hormone pills and contraceptives?  I really don't know where these two sentences are coming from, but fine, I'll assume they're meant to be there.  Could we remind ourselves of when it should be apostrophe before or after S?  And I honestly think the use of the word "whence" would be ashamed of itself to be in that sentence.  
My version:
This year's White Party Manila will be a celebration of the steps forward we have made in being recognized and respected as a Filipino community.   The passage of laws such as the RH Bill are small but growing victories in our hopes of being part of a more progressive and socially-welcoming society.
The email continues with this part which really just... befuddles me.   This part seems to be trying to say the event is now open to everyone, but tries to explain that in a very odd way.   Oh and suddenly, the mention of that Malate Business Association group is gone, and a single bar's name takes focus here.  Why?  I don't quite know, but maybe the writer assumed we would.  Is there a reason Chelu Productions gets mention and others don't?  I thought the MBA was composed of numerous businesses?
While it is true that majority of Filipinos are now embracing and gradually becoming passive about homosexuality, it is also true that majority are still unable to accept the very core of LGBT's existence. The driving force for this year will be Acceptance. This year, White Party is trying to reach out not only to the community they are catering but also the majority of the populace, homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Chelu Productions, the group working for the event, believe that engagement outside the community is a potent force in educating the populace about gender and equality.
Admittedly, there seems to be a good direction in terms of intention here.  There is the desire to "educate" which I do agree is important.  But man, this is the White Party.  Isn't the White Party meant to be a chance to CELEBRATE?  A chance to stand out and be proud of who you are, and celebrate with your friends and peers?  Will there be seminars and talks during this party?  How exactly will this "celebration" happen?
My version:
While we now enjoy a degree of tolerance from our peers, the fight for true equality is not over.   This year's White Party seeks to embody the theme of Acceptance and invites everyone, regardless of gender, to take part in the festivities!   
So after all the talk about educating and acceptance, the letter continues with another shift in direction.  Mind you, this is within the same paragraph.  Looking at the White Party Miami website, the event is largely a celebration thing (I don't see any seminars and the like in the events page) and a fund raising activity for Care Resource.  And these are accomplished through sponsorship options.  Here, the local event claims to have loftier goals:
Like most White Party celebrated in the world, the main purpose of the event is to educate all members and its allies about current issues that involves homosexuality. HIV awareness among others will be one of this years' highlights.
Okay, so wait, I thought the focus of this year was Acceptance?  Of reaching out to those who are not LGBT?  So what really is the darned highlight of this event?  I don't even know how to write my version of this any more, since we're really treading on "This section completely needs to be reconsidered.  What direction are we really headed?  What do we really want to say?"  The main purpose is to educate?  Via a street party?  Are you serious?

The email continues:
Attendees for this years' White Party will expect the best music, the best performers and the best authority in the LGBT community. Support groups and other LGBT advocates will also be putting up booths at the event venue significant to the community.
Again, that "years'" issue is getting on my nerves.  And I don't quite get the "best authority in the LGBT community" part.  Best authority in what way?  Celebrities are not best authorities.  Or is that what we want to count as an authority in our community now?   "Putting up booths at the event venue significant to the community" means what?  Are we talking testing centers?  Are we talking places with pamphlets on safer sex?  Are we talking about fun festive booths and small shops with memorabilia and trinkets?  Would it have been really so hard to spell that out better?

Finally, it goes:
The event will be held at the birthplace of the country's first White Party in Orosa-Nakpil, Malate, Manila on June 29, 2013. Gates will be opened by 8PM. General admission is Php 150 (entrance only) and VIP tickets are at Php 1000 with unlimited drinks.
Okay.  First, let's admit it:  O bar and Bed have closed shop.  So the two BIG reasons to celebrate in Malate are no longer there.  I understand the desire to try to still market this event, but maybe it would have helped to at least mention which bars are part of it at this point.  And maybe even clarify how this event will look.  Shall it be tables along Orosa-Nakpil?  Shall it be an open street?

And once again, I am disgusted that the event has an entrance fee.  So much for making this an celebration where we can invite others to join us.   As mentioned many times before, there have been  White Parties in the past that were fully sponsored and did not charge entrance.  And now, with the public fully aware of the big two no longer being there, we're being invited to this event with no idea what will really be in it, but clearly told we have to pay to get in.  Oh and yes, NO MENTION OF THIS BEING A FUND-RAISER AT ALL.  So where does the money go?  

I dunno about you guys, but I personally find this to be very wrong.  It's practically Nancy Binay wrong.  It's like, "Don't think about it too much, just focus on the name:  White Party.  You will spend for the White Party, right?  Look, it happens world-wide.  White Party.  Spend your Pink Peso here.  White Party!"

I'm sorry, but I didn't vote Nancy Binay because I wasn't someone who just focused on "the name."  I believe in the deeper reasons behind things.  And for the White Party, it will always be a celebration of unity and Pride for me.   I can understand bars charging those who step into their grounds during the party, but I cannot fathom why those who celebrate outside need to pay just to "get in" when the "in" you are talking about is the damned street.

The email ends signed by the :
Head - Communications and Public Relation
I give up.  The email was from the Head of Public Relation.  Not the PR head, mind you, cause that's Public Relations.  A typo?  I guess. But man, if the event organizers can't be bothered to hire a proper copywriter... or even just someone to double check the copy to make sure it is clear, well-written, and actually properly written, and yet will have the gall to spend for photo shoots, etc... clearly the goal is less about education and reaching out and more about flash and pomp.  More about the money.

So many errors.  And at the very end, even the very POSITION of the sender of the email is written wrong.  I can already foresee it - there will be some who will accuse me of being nit-picky.  Or claim I'm acting all elitist about having a better command in English.  I can imagine those who will accuse me of making a mountain over a molehill.  Or dig through all my stuff for my own syntax errors.  Probably even find myself the target of scorn and insults by some who will think, "How dare this no body blog about this as if he knows everything."  Well, I don't.  I'm not omniscient nor a member of Mensa or anything grand.  But I do know that if you ever release any statement or announcement to the public, as a given you are expected to hit a certain standard of quality.  It doesn't even have to be released in English.  It just has to be well-written enough to make proper sense.   And when this is a written statement - meaning something that can go through a proper editing process - given the free access to dictionaries and other resources now online, there is NO reason to have a badly written article/release unless whoever was supposed to work on it plain and simple chose to be irresponsible.

The only thing this really made clear is this:

12th White Party.  You need to pay to be part of it.
Oh, and we're trying to make it sound more than
just a street party without really explaining how.

So yeah, count me out of this event.  Clearly it is less a community celebration and more a party you want to make money from.  Just like that other party not too long ago.

And no, you do not have the right to use "my version" of the copy for free.

I felt I had to speak up about this.  I miss the Old Malate.
But I am really disgusted with how these events are now being approached.

What's next?  A fee to join the Pride March?


Here's the whole letter.
Altered only to hide the identity of the sender, out of respect of that person's privacy.


Manila celebrates 12th White Party

White Party is the name of a number of circuit parties held every year all over the world catering to LGBT communities.

In the Philippines, White Party started in Malate 12 years ago as a marketing tool for Malate Business Association. Over the years, LGBT organizations are directly involve in its creation. Like most White Parties held every year in Chicago, Miami and Palm Springs, White Party Manila also served its purpose as a catalyst for empowerment, pride, freedom and unity for the LGBT community. The concept of  all-white clothing theme was chosen by co-founder of Miami White Party Frank Wager because, as he said, "White stands for purity. White is elegant, non-political, non-combative and makes people look just plain beautiful".
This years' White Party Manila will be a celebration of feats won by the large majority of LGBT. The passing of RH Law from whence the community is strongly supporting is one of them. While it is true that majority of Filipinos are now embracing and gradually becoming passive about homosexuality, it is also true that majority are still unable to accept the very core of LGBT's existence. The driving force for this year will be Acceptance. This year,  White Party is trying to reach out not only to the community they are catering but also the majority of the populace, homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Chelu Productions, the group working for the event, believe that engagement outside the community is a potent force in educating the populace about gender and equality.

Like most White Party celebrated in the world, the main purpose of the event is to educate all members and its allies about current issues that involves homosexuality. HIV awareness among others will be one of this years' highlights.

Attendees for this years' White Party will expect the best music, the best performers and the best authority in the LGBT community. Support groups and other LGBT advocates will also be putting up booths at the event venue significant to the community.

The event will be held at the birthplace of the country's  first White Party in Orosa-Nakpil, Malate, Manila on June 29, 2013. Gates will be opened by 8PM. General admission is Php 150 (entrance only) and VIP tickets are at Php 1000 with unlimited drinks.

For event details, visit our Facebook Page at facebook.com/whitepartymanila2013, Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/whiteparty2013 or add our Official BBM pin:26FF7994.


Regards,

[name redacted]
Head - Communications and Public Relation
12th White Party Manila

5 comments:

Anonymous

This group is the new arm of the Chinese Dowager and did not went through the current Malate Business Association

Unknown

It sounds like the writer doesn't really understand what the event is about and just put together an article based on facts handed over to him/her. I've been in that position before and it's difficult, but still easy enough to come up with something personable. Hahaha I am laughing at the second and third paragraph in particular for being so completely clueless.

Tobie Abad

All I can hope for is that my post at least helps them in the sense of feedback.

But man, the spirit of Malate is truly dead.

Christopher Allan

I am disappointed but not utterly surprised.

rudeboy

All together now: "Cash grab, cash grab!!!"

Anyone familiar with the Malate Velvet Mafia will know that this event is as much about Gay Pride as GMA was about good governance.

And the unceremonious exit of the eye roll-worthy Mentorque Productions - who used to handle this annual travesty - in favor of the more baldfaced-branded Chelu Productions should provide more grist for the mill.

Ah, Nakpil-Orosa. If this is your future, you're better off dead.

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