There is an aspect of media relations that we don't like to talk about in PR. At least not in front of our clients. It's the advertising factor. Despite the fact that experts estimate over 70% of media comes out of a media/pr relationship, that symbiotic love-fest goes right out the window when faced power of the mighty advertising dollar. Most Fashion PR's have experienced sending out a pitch to a publication only to get an advertising kit back, or a reponse that they would be happy to run something editorial in exchange for advertising. I had a story pulled last minute because my client was in direct competition of a favored advertiser. While this hasn't been the norm for me, it has happened. Most often, I encounter the advertising factor when pitching independent or emerging publications who depend on advertisers to stay afloat.
The threat of advertising influencing editorial content is a real downer for PR - and to our ideas of Free Press. PR touts the ability to secure affordable media coverage for clients, and our sucess is defined by our ability to get placements. The inability to compete on the same level as advertisers can mean losing an account and negatively impacting our reputation. It's quite the stress-fest.
Shiver me timbers then, to read about newest threat to print media. Basically, the postal service has adopted a new strategy, suggested by media giant Time-Warner, that provides big discounts to large media publishing houses at the expense of smaller magazines who shoulder the brunt of the cost. Teresa Stack at The Nation estimates that these new rates will equate to half-million dollars a year in extra mailing costs. As a monopoly, small mags have no choice but to comply with the Post Office. For more information on what is facing these smaller magazines and how to help, visit The Nation's EIC blog post, Big Business Invades Your Mailbox and sign the petition.
My concern for PR is of course, how the PR/Journalist/Editor relationship will be affected if these progressive, independent, smaller publications have to rely even more on advertiser support to compensate for these new costs. I often work with small, independent and emerging companies, and as a result, often pitch independent publications of a similar sensibility. I wonder how/if this will influence the work I do. Beyond implications my fashion and lifestyle PR clients, I worry how this threat might impair access/availability to the kind of brilliant writing and content I read and value so much.