Tuesday, March 02, 2004

They want money ...

As recently reported in Editor and Publisher, 'KC Star' to Charge for Biz Announcements.

What does this mean for public relations? From the article:

One Kansas City public relations company is not happy about the new policy. "My clients are very upset and they're saying they're not going to pay for it," said John Landsberg, principal of Bottom Line Communications. Landsberg sends about six or seven announcements to the paper a month on behalf of his clients. "It gives employees recognition and gives a little plug for the company. Most of them ran. I know they get a ton of them and it's always a tough thing to keep up with."

Landsberg has a point. Beyond the simple personnel announcement - which can bring easy press if the news release is followed-up - the personnel announcement builds employee morale and is a nice way to conduct a part of employee communications. Plus, personnel announcements are a great way for the public relations firm to build a repoire with the client, and get some great face time with executives. It's one of the favorite things for me to do at POP! Public Relations.

The scary part of the story is that the Kansas City Star is not just some podunk small newspaper from a small publisher. The KC Star is part of the Knight Ridder stable of newspapers, and it's quite possible that if the Kansas City experiment goes well, KR will roll out the pay-for-personnel announcement strategy around the nation to their other newspapers. And, that's 31 newspapers around the country, including the San Jose Mercury News, the Miami Herald, and the Detroit Free Press. And, if KR decides to charge, you can be sure that Gannett will soon follow, along with Hearst and Freedom Communications and so on and so on.

A side note - talking to an editor that writes about new personnel, he noted that almost every account coordinator that called asks if it's going to cost the public relations firm money to get the announcement in their magazine. It amazed him that there is so little research put into pitches, that people actually ask about pay-for-placement.

Kool Moe Dee's "They Want Money" seemed oh, so appropriate for what might be happening at KR.
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