My world got turned on its head today when I read an MSL/PRWeek survey showing 19% of CMOs “bought advertising in return for a news story.” The most disheartening part is this is up from 17% from last year.
The survey also found that “10% of senior marketers said their organizations had an implicit / non-verbal agreement with a reporter or editor that anticipated favorable coverage of their company or products in exchange for advertising.”
And, you know that old rule about never giving a reporter a gift of any monetary value? The survey shows 8% or (about one in twelve) said their organizations paid or provided a gift of value to an editor/producer to place a news story about the company or one of its products.
MSL’s Mark Hass called the widespread use of pay for play “troubling.”
Troubling? This is downright crazy! According to the survey, the marketers involved see nothing wrong with this kind of activity and see it as, “as an extension of product placement in entertainment, no different than featuring a car in an action movie or a movie star drinking from a particular brand of soda.”
Certainly we’ve seen those lines blurred recently. The times, they are a’changin.