Bumpf – What Is It Good For?

November 12, 2018

Communications professionals love to stuff press kits with all manner of backgrounders, side stories, graphics and clips.  They pad out those press kits with all manner of bumpf.

Every time we would have a serious meeting – a major presentation, a new business pitch, a strategic change – we would have to prepare thick and colourful deck for the meeting leave behinds.

I often wondered why.  No one read them.  The clients either got the idea in the meeting or not.  It is not like there would be an “Aha!!” moment later where someone became totally converted and convinced by the argument on page 26.  So the material is just bumpf.

Perhaps the press kits could have been stuffed with what we used to call greek text.  (Which was odd because it was always in Latin – Lorem Ipsum.)

We also used Lorem Ipsum text for sample ads, where we didn’t have time to prepare layouts with all the specific copy that might, in the end, be required.

But if no one read the insides of the Press Kits or the thick colourful leave behind decks, why did we do them?  In both cases, it was a sense of weight.  Folks in the meeting would lift the deck into their meeting materials, and if the weight of it was sufficient, we would be taken seriously.  Like we  had done our homework and were probably correct.

Lawyers do the same.  Is there a EULA, or User Manual in the world that anyone, outside of the lawyers who wrote it, actually read.  I understand it helps them prevent needless lawsuits; but if it is an accepted fact that the reasonable man would not read it, is it really a defense?  But no EULA and the producer feel vulnerable to litigation.  Especially in the U.S.

It might well be the same for bumpf. Without it, our presentation appears to be defenseless.  Or that amazing press release might appear not to be newsworthy.  If a whole lot of work went into it, there should be bumpf. No bumpf = no work.

So the net of it, I have come to realize, is that you get no points for having bumpf but you lose points if it is not there.

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