Just seen on Twitter: an extract from an e-mail received by a member of Chris Mitchell’s team at CUBE (a leading UK-based wine trade PR and events company), from a wine trade magazine advertising sales person:
We feel that one of the key functions of a PR agency is to gain earned editorial coverage for their client, and since we have such strong numbers and interest online and on social media we have a unique ability to deliver a lot of value to you and your clients in this area. In the ideal world I would like to put our time and correspondence into facilitating the best possible use of the relationship on behalf of your clients, and I would like to ask you and the team to consider what we might be able to do together.
It would be funny if it wasn’t so depressing. You would have to try hard to read this email as anything other than an offer for editorial in exchange for advertising revenue. It doesn’t state this, explicitly, of course, but merely hints and makes suggestions, in a rather ugly way. Terms such as ‘gain earned editorial coverage’, ‘deliver a lot of value to you’, ‘in an ideal world’ and ‘consider what we might be able to do together’ leave little room for doubt.
If media is to have any credibility, advertising and editorial have to be kept separate. Quite simply, the quality of media suffers if this is not the case. There’s a moral side, as well – readers expect coverage to be editorially justified, and for any advertorial to be marked as such. It is dishonest not to stick to these reader expectations. The world of trade media, it seems, is quite a murky one in places.
Whoever is in charge of the publication whose advertising sales team behave like this should be ashamed. But I suspect it’s pretty normal behaviour, sadly.