Lindsay Olson

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Spring Cleaning

while i'm cleaning...

This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.

This weekend I cleaned out my office. Or should I say, “this weekend I threw out my office”? Because by “cleaning” I mean that I weeded out tons of old paper files and re-filed them in my recycling bin and shredder. The whole process made me wonder if it’s possible for P.R. people to work in a paperless office.

Here’s what else I learned:

When it comes down to it, there’s very little that can’t be filed electronically. With this in mind, I filled five recycling bins with old paper documents.

What can’t be stored electronically?  My notebooks, for one.  I take notes the old-fashioned way and write them out (vs. typing) in school notebooks.  I tossed about a dozen old notebooks (some went back almost a decade), but keep any that relate to a current client. Looking back at the ideas I had and the notes I took is helpful in understanding the evolution of a P.R. program and planning for the future.

Sometimes I keep things out of nostalgia. Like other mementos, the paper documents I keep remind me of work I did. For no other reason, I’ve kept documents pertaining to work I was really proud of and other documents that help me associate with people or a client that I want to stay connected to.

I also keep paper versions of things I’ve received in non-electronic format, like receipts, interesting brochures or important snail mail letters. I have a good scanner, but it seems easier to just drop the receipts into a file folder or to call attention to a special event by putting its documents in their own, carefully-labeled place.

I also learned that the term ‘paperless office’ was a publicist’s slogan, intended to describe the “office of the future.” It started as far back as 1964; an early prediction of the paperless office was made in a Business Week article in 1975. (Thanks Wikipedia!)

Now it’s time to make sure my digital files are in order…and backed up!

Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on You can find her at Learn more about Alison Kenney.


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