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Allena Tapia

The PR Placement Question

By January 31, 2013

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Am I the only freelance writer who gets this†PR placement question again and again? It never pans out to a client relationship, yet I'm not sure what else I can tell these companies. Take a look and let me know your opinion. PR writing is not specifically my specialty.

February 18, 2013 at 7:27 pm
(1) VRusso says:

When I wrote three shopping columns, I loved it when store owners, inventors and artists sent me emails about new products. (At the end of each column, I invited readers to tell me about new products.) However, I would not accept money for placement in my columns, since I was already being paid by the publication. So technically, they were not my clients.

February 19, 2013 at 10:25 am
(2) freelancewrite says:

Thanks for an answer on this. I just steer clear, it’s so convoluted.

February 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm
(3) ValRusso says:

What’s your opinion on this: Is it ok to be paid by a business for placement in an article and also be paid for the article by the publication? As a magazine and newspaper writer, I would accept payment only from the publication.

February 19, 2013 at 10:23 am
(4) freelancewrite says:

I think I agree with you. I odn’t know. It seems a little bit of a grey area.

February 19, 2013 at 10:56 am
(5) Ronelle Grier says:

Most publications that I have written for, especially newspapers, have policies forbidding their writers from taking money (or even gifts) from people or businesses they write about. This makes sense.
I try to explain it this way: either I’m working as a reporter for a publication, in which case the publication is paying me, or I’m working as a PR person for the company, in which case I am paid for writing a positive piece and (hopefully) getting it placed in an appropriate publication.
But it cannot work both ways. Reporters and publicists have very different (and often conflicting) agendas. Attempting to serve both masters serves neither one very effectively or ethically.

February 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm
(6) Trace Conger says:

Allena, speaking as someone who has been a PR consultant and writer for several years, I think you handled the request well. Other things to consider, include generating a strong and accurate media list. Itís one thing to identify editors at the NY Times, but itís something else to be able to identify all the relevant publications that cover automotive aftermarket products or moldmaking technology. Some of these are hard to find.

I donít pitch the media any longer, but I still create press materials (pitch letters, op-eds, press releases, contributed articles, etc.) for clients with which they pitch the media themselves. Thatís one way to handle it. One area of caution is never let a client pay you only if you receive coverage, as this is a losing proposition.

Agree with Ronelle completely on the conflict of interest between publicists and journalists, but here is anther more ethical angle. Letís say youíre paid by an eyeglass manufacturer to write an article for a publication about the newest in lens technology. In this case, you should only be paid by the company/your client.

However there is nothing stopping you from pitching a similar slant (letís say a more focused article on scratch-resistant lenses) to another publication for profit. The caveat is that this article must be a unique piece and use different sources from the original article. It is possible to play both sides in an ethical manner.

February 25, 2013 at 11:12 am
(7) freelancewrite says:

Trace (and Ronelle) thank you both so very much for your expertise!!

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