So much has been said about PayPerPost, its copycats, and now the new ReviewMe.com service and everyone seems to be all up in arms. The horror! Someone writing about a company with less than completely altruistic intentions! Disclosure or not, the idea of influenced writing isn’t new to the blog medium even though so many act as though it is. It’s been going on in mainstream media for a very long time, but over there in Big Boy Land there are companies built around this type of influence peddling, we call them public relations firms. PR firms are paid to take your message and get the word out in whatever way possible — whether that’s cold calls, emails, press junkets, expensive dinners, or flat-out bribes, it’s what happens in the “real world” when you want X to be written about in Y and you have no connections to Y.
About a month ago I ran across an article in Inc. magazine for a company called PayPerClip, an “on-demand” public relations firm where you only pay them for the results they get. Instead of having a 4 or 5 figure budget each month for generic PR work and seeing few results, PayPerClip only gets paid if your message gets where you want it. They have a PDF of recent client news placements… here are some big name publications that were “influenced” via PayPerClip’s practices for the benefit of their clients:
- CBS Evening News
- Washington Post
- Teen People
- Chicago Tribune
…and there are a lot more. In the article I read, they actually published what it would cost to make it into what publication, and on their website their prices are listed as well. A full feature in a Top 5 national or international outlet for $4,700? Does that mean for under $5k I can get my company featured in something like the New York Post? That’s amazing and incredibly smart.
Here’s a PR firm that’s telling you that for a certain amount of money they can get your story in (essentially) whatever publication, website, or trade magazine you want. I remember distinctly from the article that it was under $3,000 to get your company a gigantic feature article directly on CNET so maybe that’s the going rate nowadays.
Now with PayPerPost and the disclosure debacle, everyone is ganging up on the company and saying that they’re immoral and should burn in hell. Now even though I think bloggers should disclose obvious paid affiliations, has everyone forgotten that money is the universal lubricant in mainstream media? Are bloggers supposed to be held to higher standards than publications on PayPerClip’s success list, publications like the Chicago Tribune or CNET?