Monday, June 26, 2006

More bad news about B2B news

I've put off writing about this for a few days now. It's just too depressing to think about. But PR Week has published a story that will break your heart if you care about journalistic integrity. According to a poll by Manning Selvage & Lee and the magazine, nearly half of the marketing executives surveyed say they have paid to get news coverage.
PR Week keeps its material behind a password-protected firewall, so only subscribers can read the original article. But you can read the New York Times take here. Or check out Paul Gillin's blog for his opinion and links to other coverage by clicking here.

The article isn't solely about B2B. Rather it appears that marketers are paying to play in a variety of publications. And I think most folks in our industry assume that some genres -- particularly fashion and shopping magazines -- are filled with this nonsense.
And it's possible that the survey isn't an accurate representation of the truth. An optimist might say the marketers are simply bragging -- claiming to have influence that they don't actually have.

But I'm not much of an optimist. I've seen too many publications engage in shocking or cheap behavior. So I'm walking around today with my head hung low.

For a look at the ASBPE's rewritten ethics guidelines, read this earlier post.
For my advice on how to handle pressure to behave unethically, read this earlier post.

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  1. AnonymousJuly 10, 2006

    Why should it be surprising that PR firms are able to buy content? Recently Folio did a front page feature on a magazine company built on the concept of 100% complimentary content, and no one batted an eye. (I doubt the writer of the article even bothered to read one of the magazines in question.) When the leading (and only) magazine for magazines thinks it's OK to sell content, why shouldn't PR firms take advantage of it?

  2. Anonymous,
    I wouldn't say that "no one batted an eye." Although the article in question didn't -- at least in my mind -- push hard enough on the integrity issue, at least one source, Teri Mollison from Penton Media, is quoted suggesting that Schofield's model is flawed.
    (Note: the article in question can be found here:
    There was also a letter to the editor in a later issue that suggested Schofield was running a "con game." I can't find that letter on the Folio site, but Schofield's response can be found here:
    And Anonymous, if you want to argue about editorial ethics, please refrain from making anonymous personal attacks about the author of the Folio piece or anyone else. That may be the single most important ethical stance any of us can take.