If a publication contacts your organization offering up a free two-page feature story on a recent project, your initial reaction is probably similar to most others — excitement. However, after you’ve spent hours answering in-depth questions via email and by phone about your project and have sent back changes or edits in your included “editorial review”, you’re hit with a statement you didn’t see coming.
“Before we can send this to print, we’ll just need you to send over a list of your partners.”
Over the years, the line between journalism and advertising has become quite blurred, and most times, opportunities that start out the way this one did are generally pay-for-play pieces. At One Eight Oh PR, we’ve seen a number of companies fall victim to this, and it’s easy to see why. If you aren’t made aware of these situations, you may end up wasting a ton of time and energy answering detailed questions about your company in exchange for a story that you’ll never see printed unless, of course, you don’t mind sending over your list of contacts.
What’s so bad about handing over your trade partners’ information? Once the publication gets that list, they start soliciting those individuals to buy ads surrounding the feature story, specifically mentioning it’s a story about your organization. We’re also not talking about one friendly email. Sometimes, it becomes a daily phone call or email pestering them to buy an ad for YOUR feature story!
Our best advice in dealing with a tricky situation like this one is to ask the publication a few up-front questions. Is this a pay-for-play opportunity? Will you ask our organization to share any of our partners’ contact information before the article is printed?
One benefit of having a public relations agency on retainer is that you can ask them to vet the offer for you and discover if it’s a waste of time or a legitimate opportunity for your team to get media coverage. If you’re struggling to decipher a publication’s intent, contact our team for some extra guidance.