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BP Might Just Kill Your PR

It’s interesting that at a time when advertisers are scrambling to find any way to reach consumers, they’re willing to nix the one marketing strategy that still works: PR. AdAge reported this week that Morgan Stanley and BP similarly “informed print publications that its ads must be automatically pulled from any edition containing ‘objectionable editorial coverage.'” First and foremost, there are of course the ethical implications of this type of move by putting pressure on editorial objectivity.

It’s interesting that at a time when advertisers are scrambling to find any way to reach consumers, they’re willing to nix the one marketing strategy that still works: PR. AdAge reported this week that Morgan Stanley and BP similarly “informed print publications that its ads must be automatically pulled from any edition containing ‘objectionable editorial coverage.'” First and foremost, there are of course the ethical implications of this type of move by putting pressure on editorial objectivity. But from a marketing standpoint, don’t companies like Morgan Stanley and BP realize that by pulling the plug on advertising in magazines they are in turn doing a disservice to their fellow marketers?

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The US magazine model is dependent on advertisers – and it’s no secret magazines are floundering (um, did you see our “For Sale” sign?). It’s also widely known that the power of a journalist’s pen endorsing a company is roughly three times the power of an ad paid for by a company. Right now marketers are up against TiVo, the death of the 30-second spot, and the frenetic, uncaptive consumer. If magazines disappear, so will the all-powerful third-party endorsement written by legitimate journalists writing legitimately about good companies, products and leaders; the same journalism that drives consumers into your stores and investors investing in you company after reading about you in their favorite magazines.

It’s not our job to do you this favor – good companies will breed good coverage. Unless you want your marketing comrades – who are fearful of the type of coverage their own practices might breed – to cannibalize the one marketing outlet that still works, I suggest you ask them to question the consqeunces of their actions. Sure, as a journalist and magazine-junkie I may have my vested interest, but I believe, as marketers, you have yours.

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About the author

Danielle Sacks is an award-winning journalist and a former senior writer at Fast Company magazine. She's chronicled some of the most provocative people in business, with seven cover stories that included profiles on J.Crew's Jenna Lyons, Malcolm Gladwell, and Chelsea Clinton

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